Macmillan Nurse

Nurse who specializes in giving advice about coping with symptoms (for example, pain, sickness) in people with cancer. Can be based in hospital, or visit people in their own homes.


Type of white blood cells that are part of the immune system. They are found in the lymph nodes where they help to fight infection. They swallow up and kill foreign cells, including cancer cells. See Immune Response, Immune System.

Magic Bullet

Popular name for targeted treatment using monoclonal antibodies. See Monoclonal Antibodies.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging
(MRI, MRI Scan, NMR, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance)

Scan using magnetism to build up a picture of the organs inside the body. These scans are painless, but are very noisy. You should tell your doctor if you have a pacemaker or any metal parts inside your body (such as joint replacements or surgical clips) as this may mean you cannot have this type of scan.


Cancerous. Opposite of benign.


X ray examination of the breast to look for early signs of cancer.


Using X rays to examine the breast for signs of cancer.


Chemical substance produced by a cancer and used to monitor the progress of the disease. Usually measured by a blood test. See Alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP).

Marie Curie Nurse

Nurse who looks after cancer patients in their own homes, often overnight, to give relatives a break. Can be contacted through the district nurse.

(Face Mold, Face Mask, Mold, Shell)

Clear plastic mask of the head made to hold the head and neck still. Worn during radiotherapy treatment.


Rubbing or kneading the body to stimulate the circulation and relax tension in the muscles. Can produce general feeling of relaxation and well being.


Operation to remove the breast.

Mastectomy Bras

(Artificial Breast)
Bras designed for women who have had a breast removed. Each cup has a pocket inside it to hold a Prosthesis.

Mastectomy Exercises

Exercises designed to be done after surgery to remove a breast. Aim to increase movement in the arm and shoulder.

Mastectomy Swimwear

Swimsuits designed for women who have had a breast removed. Each cup has a pocket inside it to hold a Prosthesis.


Fully developed. In terms of cells, means fully differentiated. See Cell, Cell Differentiation.

Maximum Dose

The highest dose of a drug or radiotherapy that can be safely given.

Meals On Wheels

Cooked midday meals delivered people in their own homes. Can be arranged through social services for anyone who lives alone and cannot shop or cook for themselves.


An infectious disease caused by a virus. Measles can be dangerous to people who have low resistance to infection, for instance after chemotherapy. There is a vaccination for measles, but it should NOT be given during chemotherapy treatment as it is a live virus vaccine. See Chemotherapy, Vaccination.


Medical examination of the mediastinum. The doctor makes a small cut at the base of the neck. He puts a small tube through the cut and into the mediastinum. He can look through this tube to examine the area. He can also take tissue samples which will be looked at under the microscope to see if there are any cancer cells. See Mediastinum.


Area at the center of the chest which contains the heart, windpipe (trachea), gullet (esophagus) large main blood vessels and the lymph nodes that surround the heart.

Medical History

Record of a person's illnesses, allergies, operations and other medical treatments. All doctors ask for this information when they first see a patient.

Medical Physicist

Specialist in radiation. Makes sure equipment is accurate and safe, and advises doctors on the best type of machine to use.

Medical Research Council

Independent body that oversees a number of medical research trials.

Medroxyprogesterone Acetate

Man-made form of progesterone (Female Sex Hormone) used to treat breast cancer.


Type of brain tumor. Commonest type in children. Sometimes called Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumors (PNET's) because they develop from primitive (poorly developed) nerve cells in the brain.


See Megestrol.


Man made form of progesterone (Female Sex Hormone) used to treat breast cancer.


Type of brain tumor. Usually benign. Develop from the covering of the brain (meninges). Can be anywhere in the brain or spinal cord.


'Change of life'. Period of time between the early forties and late fifties when women stop producing sex hormones. Periods become irregular and stop and women can't become pregnant any longer.

Menopausal Side Effects
(Menopausal Side Effects, Menopause Symptoms)

Side effects from the menopause such as hot flushes, sweating, putting on weight, feeling anxious. These happen because the body is getting used to lower levels of sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone). See Hot Flushes, Menopause, Sex Hormones.


Type of cancer. Most commonly found in the pleural membrane. This is the sheet of skin covering each lung. Mesothelioma is sometimes also found in the peritoneum. This is the membrane which covers all the digestive system organs in the abdomen. Mesothelioma can be caused by exposure to asbestos, but may not develop for many years. See Asbestos.


Taking the results of lots of trials that have tested the same treatment, and looking at the results all together. This can give a more accurate picture than looking at the results separately.

(Metastasis, Secondary Cancer, Secondaries)

Areas of cancer spread - for example, areas in the liver where cancer has spread from another part of the body are called liver metastases.

Metastatic Breast Cancer

Breast cancer which has spread to other parts of the body.


An anti-cancer drug.

Microscopic Spread

This means cancer that has spread, but the spread is too small to be seen on scans or with the naked eye during surgery. In some types of cancer that are known to spread quite quickly, doctors sometimes assume that the cancer is elsewhere in the body even if they cannot find it. So, they will then treat with chemotherapy (which treats the whole body) rather than surgery or radiotherapy (which are more local treatments). See Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy, Spread, Surgery.


An anti-cancer drug (chemotherapy).


An anti-cancer drug (chemotherapy).

Mixed Cell Cancer

Cancer containing more than one type of cell (for example, teratoma and seminoma).

Mixed Glioma

Glioma which contains more than one type of cell. See Glioma.


Combination vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella. You should not have this vaccination if you are having chemotherapy as it is live. See Vaccination.

Modified Radical Mastectomy

Operation to remove the breast and the lymph glands under the arm.

Monoclonal Antibodies
(Magic Bullets)

Single antibodies that can be made in the laboratory and used for targeted cancer treatment. This type of treatment is experimental.

Morning After Pill

Pill to prevent pregnancy. Can be taken for up to 72 hours after unprotected sex has taken place.

Mold Room

Room in hospital where masks (molds) are made.

Mouth Ulcer
(Mouth Ulcers)

Painful area of broken skin inside the mouth.


Liquid used to clean the mouth by swilling it around. Usually not swallowed.


A slimy substance produced by mucous membranes in the body. Mucous membranes are the moist tissues that line the inside of the body openings, for example the mouth and throat, the vagina. Mucus is produced to make body tissues slippery and reduce damage from friction.

Multi-Center Trial

Trial where patients are recruited from more than one hospital. Many multi-center trials recruit patients from different countries. See Clinical Trial.


Means 'many factors involved'. When used about a disease, means it has more than one cause. For example, someone may develop a cancer partly because of their genetic make up, partly because of their diet and partly because of other factors in their environment.


Infectious disease. You should not have a vaccination against mumps if you are having chemotherapy, as the vaccine is live. See Vaccination.

Muscle Reconstruction

Type of plastic surgery which uses muscle tissue to rebuild part of the body which has been removed during surgery (for example, the breast).


A change in a gene. Genes are really codes that tell a cell to make a particular protein. If a gene is mutated, the protein it makes will be abnormal. Mutation can also alter how a gene works by permanently switching it on or off. See Chromosome, Gene.

Mycosis Fungoides

A very rare type of non Hodgkin's lymphoma that affects the skin. It is one of a group of conditions called cutaneous T cell lymphomas. MF usually begins with red scaly patches forming on the skin. These can be very itchy. In the second stage raised red plaques (patches) can form. The last stage is raised lumps forming on the skin which are tumors. It is a very slow disease and some people do not progress beyond the first or second stages. MF is treated with chemotherapy or steroid creams, radiotherapy and ultraviolet light. See Chemotherapy, Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma, Lymphoma, Radiotherapy.

Myocardial Infarction

Heart attack.


Cancer of a muscle.

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(Song *In The Garden* Composed by: Bruce DeBoer
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