Strictly speaking, radiation means giving
off any energy particles or waves and includes heat and light. But usually
used to mean radioactivity. This means gamma rays, alpha or beta particles
from a radioactive source. The radioactivity comes from the breakdown of
atoms. The source can be natural or made in a nuclear reactor. Uncontrolled
radiation can be dangerous and cause cancer. Controlled exposure to radiation
can be used in medicine for diagnosis (eg X-rays) or to treat cancer (radiotherapy).
Operation to remove the breast,
lymph glands under the arm, and the muscles of the chest wall. Very rarely
An intensive course of radiotherapy
that is given to try to cure a cancer. See Radiotherapy.
Something which gives off high
energy rays or particles. See Radiation.
Type of radiotherapy using
small beads made of isotopes of gold or iodine that give off radiation.
The beads can be placed inside the body where there is a cancer. This gives
a high dose of radiotherapy to the cancer, but at a low dose to healthy
parts of the body.
Type of internal radiotherapy.
The radiation is given in liquid form as a drink (eg radioactive iodine)
to treat cancer of the thyroid. See Internal
Dye which gives off radiation.
Used in very small amounts during some types of scan.
Injection into a vein of a
tiny amount of a radioactive substance. This is usually done for a scan,
for example a bone scan. But it can also be a treatment such as P32. See
Liquid that gives off radiation.
Any substance which gives off
radiation. See Radiation.
Where radiation is given off.
With external radiotherapy the radiotherapy machine is the source. With
internal radiotherapy the implant, wires, or whatever is being used is
the source. See External Radiotherapy,
Person trained to operate radiotherapy
machines and take x-rays.
Radioactive atoms used in tiny
amounts as a tracer in a bone scan. See Bone
Doctor who specialises in treating
patients with radiotherapy.
(Radiotherapy Treatment, Radium
Cancer treatment using high
energy waves similar to X-rays. Used to be called radium treatment because
all radiotherapy used to be given using radium.
Department in a hospital where
radiotherapy treatment is planned and given.
Area covered by a radiotherapy
beam. Usually several 'beams' are used for external radiotherapy, and so
there are several fields.
Radioactive substance that
is put inside the body to give radiotherapy directly to a cancer. Can be
in many different forms eg wires, beads. For example, irridium wires can
be put into the breast or tongue to treat breast cancer or mouth cancer.
See Implant, Iridium.
There is a maximum amount of
radiotherapy that can be given to any part of the body, or person. Each
body organ has its own radiotherapy limit. Some organs are more sensitive
to radiotherapy than others. See Radiotherapy.
Machine used to give external
radiotherapy treatment for cancer (and some other illnesses and conditions).
Nurse who works in the radiotherapy
department and can advise patients on managing radiotherapy treatment and
side effects. See Radiotherapy.
Process of designing an individual's
course of radiotherapy treatment.
Radiotherapy Side Effects
Unwanted effects on the body
of radiotherapy. Radiotherapy side effects only occur in the area that
is being treated. Although you can sometimes get skin reddening on the
other side of the body, where the rays pass through. Radiotherapy can cause
hair loss, sickness, diarrhoea, sore skin, and sore mouth depending on
where in the body you are being treated. A long course of radiotherapy
often causes tiredness. Radiotherapy side effects are a little unusual
in that they don't start as soon as you start the treatment. They take
a while to build up and then do not disappear until a little while after
you have finished the course of treatment. This can be a number of weeks
depending on how much radiotherapy you have had. See Radiotherapy.
The first substance discovered
to give off radiation. Used to treat cancer.
Old name for radiotherapy.
Used because all radiotherapy used to be given using radium.
A naturally occuring radioactive
gas. Radon is given off by the Earth. The amount of it around depends on
where you live. Areas with a lot of granite in the ground tend to have
higher than average levels of radon. In the UK these are Derbyshire, Devon,
Cornwall, Somerset and Northamptonshire. Radon is one of the causes of
lung cancer and may contribute to causing other cancers as well.
Trial where the patients have
been put into two groups by chance. One group is given the best current
treatment or a placebo and their results are compared with the patients
having the new treatment. See Best
Current Treatment, Placebo.
Trial where the patients are
divided into groups by chance. See Clinical
Operation to rebuild a part
of the body that has been removed or damaged (for example, breast reconstruction).
Medical examination where the
doctor puts a finger into the back passage to see if he can feel anything
wrong. Used to examine the prostate.
The back passage. The end of
the bowel where faeces is stored before it is passed out of the body through
the anus. See Anus, Faeces.
Cancer that has come back again
The skin going red.
(Red Blood Cell, Red Cells)
Cells found in the blood which
carry oxygen from the lungs around the body. If a person doesn't have enough
red blood cells, they have anemia.
Red Spidery Marks
These are a long term side
effect of radiotherapy. Extra blood vessels can grow in the skin where
radiotherapy treatment has been given in the past. See Long
Term Side Effects, Radiotherapy.
Type of complementary therapy.
Reflexologists use pressure points on the feet, similar to acupuncture
points to detect blockages of energy in the body. They seek to correct
the blockages by massaging the feet. See Complementary
Chemotherapy that is given
to one part of the body only. For example, for secondary bowel cancer in
the liver, chemotherapy can be given to the liver through the hepatic artery.
See Hepatic Artery Infusional Chemotherapy.
An illness that has seemed
to be getting better, or to have been cured, comes back or gets worse again.
Cassette tapes that help you
to learn to relax. Usually have a recording of someone talking through
relaxation exercises and soothing music.
Different ways of relaxing
(eg relaxing the muscles in turn, deep breathing).
If a cancer is in remission,
there is no sign of it on scans or when the doctor examines you. Doctors
use the word 'remission' instead of cure when talking about cancer because
they cannot be sure that there are no cancer cells at all in the body.
So the cancer could come back in the future, although there is no sign
of it at the time.
Looking into something in a
systematic and logical way to find out new facts about it. Cancer research
looks into new treatments, but can also find out many other things about
cancers for example, who is at risk of particular types of cancer, how
to prevent cancer and how to lessen side effects of treatment.
Research Ethics Committee
Group of people who look at
plans for trials to see whether they have been properly though out and
prepared. They are responsible for checking that the best interests of
the patients have been considered. The committee usually includes doctors,
nurses, lawyers and members of the public.
Word used in surgery to meaning
to cut away. So if something is resected, it is removed during an operation.
Resistance To Infection
How resistant you are to infections
shows how well your immune system is working. Cancer treatments such as
chemotherapy can lower your white blood cell count and so lower your immunity.
Until your white blood cell count recovers, you will have less resistance
to infection. See Chemotherapy, Immunity,
System, White Blood Cells.
The body system for breathing.
Includes the nose, windpipe (trachea), airways and lungs. See Airways,
Natural form of trying to prevent
pregnancy by avoiding sex in the middle of a woman's menstrual cycle, when
becoming pregnant is most likely. Not thought safe when avoiding pregnancy
is very important - for example, during cancer treatment or after having
particular cancers such as breast cancer.
A type of arthritis that is
an auto-immune disease. This means the body thinks some of its own cells
are foreign and attacks them. In rheumatoid arthritis, this happens in
the joints causing them to swell and become painful.
(Rubella Vaccine, German Measles,
German Measles Vaccine)
Infectious disease. You should
not have a vaccination against rubella if you are having chemotherapy as
the vaccine is live. See Vaccination.