S

Saline

Solution of salt in water.

Saliva

Spit. Made by the salivary glands. Keeps the mouth healthy and moist and contains an enzyme which begins to digest food before it reaches the stomach.

Sarcoma

Cancer that has arisen in connective tissue (e.g. muscle, bone, nerves). See Connective Tissue.

Scan
(Scans)

Looking at the inside of the body from the outside to see if there is anything wrong (e.g. CT scan or Ultrasound scan).

Schwannoma

A tumor of the nerve sheath (fatty covering of the nerves). Can occur in the major nerves of the head or the peripheral nerves (outside the brain and spinal cord). One of the commonest sites is the main nerve for hearing, the acoustic nerve. Schwannomas are usually benign, but can rarely be malignant. See Acoustic Neuroma.

Screening
(Screening Test, Screening Tests)

Testing the general population to see if a particular disease can be picked up early - usually before that person has noticed any symptoms. Can only be done if there is a reliable and simple test for the disease.

Scrotum

Pouch of skin in men containing the testicles.

Secondary Brain Tumor
(Metastatic Brain Tumor)

Cancer which has spread to the brain from somewhere else in the body. The doctor can tell this by looking at the cells under a microscope. They will look like the original cells, rather than like brain cells. For example, if the cancer has spread from the lung, the cancer cells in the brain will look like lung cells.

Secondary Breast Cancer

Cancer that has spread from the breast to another part of the body (e.g. liver, bone).

Secondary Bronchi
(Secondary Bronchus)

The airways that branch off from the bronchi to each lobe of the lungs. See Airways, Bronchi.

Secondary Cancer
(Secondaries)

Cancer spread. Cancer cells have broken away from the primary cancer (where the cancer began in the body) and have spread to another organ or part of the body, where they have begun to grow. Secondary cancer has to be treated according to the type of cells that it is made up of. For example, breast cancer cells that have spread to the lung will respond to breast cancer treatments and not lung cancer treatments because the cancer cells are breast cancer cells no matter where in the body they are growing. See Primary Cancer.

Secondary Lung Cancer

Lung cancer that has spread from the lungs to another part of the body (e.g. the liver). See Secondary Cancer, Spread.

Secondary Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer that has spread from the prostate to another part of the body (e.g. the bones).

Second Cancer

Different type of cancer caused by previous cancer treatment. Must not be confused with secondary cancer, which is a cancer which has spread.

Second Opinion

Getting another view on diagnosis or treatment from another doctor.

Sedative

Drug given to relax you. Will often make you drowsy. Used before some medical procedures that are not usually done under general anesthetic, for example bronchoscopy. See General Anesthetic.

Segmentectomy

Operation to remove a segment of a body organ, for example a segment of a lung.

Selectron
(Curitron)

Machine used in internal radiotherapy treatment. Automatically puts in and takes out the radioactive source. Reduces the amount of radiation the hospital staff and visitors are exposed to as the source can be automatically taken back into the machine when someone else is in the room. See After Loading.

Self Help Group
(Self Help Groups)

Groups of patients (and sometimes their relatives or friends) who have the same type of disease. Get together to talk about their experiences and find ways of helping themselves.

Semen

The milky white liquid that contains sperm and comes out of the penis when a man has an orgasm. See Ejaculation.

Seminal Vesicle
(Seminal Vesicles)

Two glands at the base of the bladder. They make and secrete the liquid part of semen that mixes with the sperm made by the testicles. This liquid contains nutrients (food) for the sperm.

Seminoma

Type of testicular cancer most common in men between 30 and 50 years old.

Seroma

Collection of fluid under a wound after an operation.

Sex Hormones

The hormones that 'make' us male and female and control the production of eggs in women and sperm in men. The female sex hormones are estrogen and progesterone. The male sex hormone is testosterone. Some cancers use sex hormones to help them grow. So, for these cancers, treatments can be aimed at stopping the body making sex hormones. This can cause menopausal side effects for women and hot flushes and impotence for men. See Hot Flushes, Menopausal Symptoms, Menopause, Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone.

Sexual Impotency

Inability to get an erection.

Shell

Another word for mask or mold used during radiotherapy treatment to the head. See Mask, Radiotherapy.

Side Effects

Unwanted effects of medical treatment.

Sigmoidoscopy
(Sigmoidoscope)

Examination of the rectum (back passage) and colon (large bowel) using a sigmoidoscope. The sigmoidoscope is a thin bendable tube which is put up into the colon and rectum through the anus. The tube is connected to an eyepiece which allows the doctor to see inside the bowel. And to take biopsies (samples of tissue) for examination under the microscope. A sigmoidoscopy can see into the bowel as far as the sigmoid colon. This is the S shaped part of the large bowel on the lower left of the abdomen. To see further into the bowel a colonoscopy is done. See Colonoscopy.

Silicone

Substance used to make body implants (for example, artificial breasts). Also used to make some medical equipment (for example, urinary catheters). Used because it is very unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.

Silicone Implant

Artificial body part - for example, breast or testicle put into the body to replace a part that has been removed.

Simple Mastectomy

Operation to remove the breast only.

Simulator

Specialized X ray machine used to plan radiotherapy treatment.

Skin Markings
(Skin Marks)

Lines drawn on the body with a felt tip pen during radiotherapy planning. These are used to line up the radiotherapy machine every day.

Skin Nodule
(Skin Nodules)

Lump on the skin.

Skin Reaction

Reddening and sometimes peeling of the skin that can happen as a reaction to radiotherapy treatment. Similar to moderate sunburn. Severe skin reactions to radiotherapy are now quite rare since the use of newer 'skin sparing' radiotherapy techniques.

Small Bowel
(Duodenum, Ileum)

Part of the digestive system. Tube that connects the stomach to the large bowel (colon). Digestion continues in the first part of the small bowel (the duodenum). In the rest of the small bowel (the ileum), nutrients from digested food are absorbed into the body. 

Small Cell Lung Cancer
(Small Cell)

Type of lung cancer. Behaves differently from the other main types of lung cancer and so is treated differently. Can spread early, so often treated with chemotherapy. See Non Small Cell Lung Cancer.

Small Cell Lymphocytic

Type of lymphoma. The cells appear small under the microscope. This is a low grade type of lymphoma. See Grade: Lymphomas, Lymphoma, Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Small Non Cleaved Burkitt's

Type of lymphoma. The cells look small under the microscope and are not split. The cells have a particular appearance and are named after the person that first classified this type of lymphoma. Burkitt's Lymphoma is a rare and special type of lymphoma that is usually treated with combination chemotherapy. See Chemotherapy, Lymphoma.

Small Non Cleaved Non Burkitt's

Type of lymphoma. The cells look small under the microscope and are not split. This looks similar to the cells in Burkitt's Lymphoma, but are not the same so this type of lymphoma is called Non Burkitt's. It is usually treated with combination chemotherapy. See Chemotherapy,
Lymphoma.

Smear
(Cervical Smear, Pap Smear, Pap Test)

Screening test to detect cancer of the cervix. A scraping of cells is taken from the surface of the cervix and examined under the microscope to see if any of them are showing signs of becoming cancerous. This is a test for pre cancer. A positive smear does not mean you have cancer. It means you have cells that, if not treated, might go on to develop into cancer. See Screening.

Soft Diet

Diet of soft and mashed foods that are easy to swallow and don't need much chewing. Often recommended when the mouth is sore from chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or when it is difficult to swallow.

Somnolence
(Somnolence Syndrome)

Feeling extremely tired, drowsy and irritable. Can be a side effect of a long course of radiotherapy to the brain. May last for some weeks after treatment has finished.

Sperm Bank

Place of storage for frozen sperm samples.

Sperm Banking 

Collecting, freezing and storing sperm samples for use in the future. Can be done before cancer treatment is given. If the treatment causes infertility, the frozen sperm can be used. See Infertility.

Sperm Count

Number of healthy sperm counted in a sperm sample. Indicates how healthy the sperm sample is and so whether it is worth freezing the sample for sperm banking.

Spermatic Cord

Pipeline which runs from the testicle towards the penis. Contains the tube which carries sperm, blood vessels, nerves and lymph vessels.

Spine

Backbone

Spleen

Body organ. Part of the lymphatic system. The spleen is on the left of the body, just under the diaphragm. It filters the blood, removing worn out red blood cells and stores red blood cells. It also contains lymph node tissue and many lymphocytes. The spleen is sometimes removed in Hodgkin's Disease. It is perfectly possible to live healthily without a spleen, but you will be more at risk of infection, so may be asked to take antibiotics long term. See Diaphragm, Hodgkin's Disease, Lymphatic System, Lymph Nodes, Red Blood Cells.

Spread

Growth of a cancer from where it started. A cancer can spread to areas next to where it began to grow (local spread) or to other parts of the body (secondary cancer or metastasis). See Metastases.

Squamous Cells

Type of flat skin cells that cover the outside and inside of the body. Many cancers are squamous cell cancer. See Squamous Cell Cancer.

Squamous Cell Cancer

A cancer that develops from squamous cells found in the skin that covers the outside and lines the inside of the body. For example, a squamous cell cancer of the lung develops from the cells that line the airways. See Non Small Cell Lung Cancer.

Stage
(Stages)

The size of a cancer and how far it has spread. Used to decide on the best course of treatment. There can be any number of stages, but for most cancers there are about four. Stage one is the smallest cancer and stage four (or the highest number) means the cancer has spread away from where it started to another part of the body.

Staging

Classifying a cancer by looking at the size of the tumor and whether it has spread. Used to decide the best course of treatment. See Stage.

Staging Laparotomy

Operation sometimes performed in Hodgkin's Disease or Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The surgeon opens the abdomen to check how far the disease has spread and whether any organs are involved, for example the stomach or spleen. The surgeon may remove any lymphoma tumors that are found. Sometimes the spleen is removed in a staging laparotomy. See Abdomen, Hodgkin's Disease, Lymphoma, Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Spleen, Staging.

Standard Treatment

The most commonly used treatment for a particular cancer. New treatments are often compared to standard treatments in research trials. See Best Current Treatment, Clinical Trials.

Statistician

Someone who works on trial results to find out whether they have happened by chance, or whether one treatment is really better than another. Also work out how many people are needed to take part in a trial and put them into groups at random. See Clinical Trials, Randomized Controlled Trial.

Statistics

Collecting and analyzing data to make comparisons and see patterns.

Stem Cells
(Blood Stem Cells, Peripheral Blood Stem Cells)

Stem cells are very early blood cells found in the bone marrow. All the blood cells, red cells, white cells and platelets develop originally from the same stem cells. Normally most stem cells are found in the bone marrow. When growth factor injections are given, so many extra stem cells are made that they spill out into the circulating blood. They can then be collected for stem cell transplant. See Bone Marrow, Growth Factors, Stem Cell Collecting Machine, Stem Cell Harvest, Stem Cell Transplant.

Stem Cell Collecting Machine
(Blood Cell Separator, Cell Separator)

Also called a blood cell separator. A machine which can separate out blood cells and remove them from your blood. A drip is put into a vein in each of your arms (or one of the drips is attached to your central line if you have one). Your blood circulates out of one drip, through the machine and back into the other drip. The machine filters out blood stem cells. These can then be frozen and given back to you after high dose chemotherapy. The collection takes three to four hours. See Central Line, High Dose Chemotherapy, Stem Cells.

Stem Cell Harvest
(Stem Cell Collection)

Collecting blood stem cells for a stem cell transplant. Before the collection, you will be given injections of growth factors to help lots of stem cells to develop. When your white blood cell count is high enough, your stem cells will be collected using a stem cell collecting machine. See Growth Factors, Stem Cell Collecting Machine, Stem Cells, Stem Cell Transplant.

Stem Cell Transplant

Treatment for cancer. Stem cell transplant is similar to bone marrow transplant, but does not need an anesthetic to collect the cells and recovery can be quicker. But donor transplants (allogeneic transplant) cannot be done with stem cells yet. So if a donor transplant is needed, a bone marrow transplant will still be done. Very high doses of chemotherapy are given to kill cancer cells. This also kills the bone marrow which contains all the developing blood cells. For a transplant, the very early blood cells normally found in the bone marrow are collected from the blood, frozen and stored. The stem cells can then be given back through a drip after the high dose chemotherapy is over. They find their way back inside the bones and start to make blood cells again. See Allogeneic Transplant, Bone Marrow, Bone Marrow Transplant, High Dose Chemotherapy, Stem Cells, Stem Cell Harvest.

Stent
(Stents)

A stent is a pipe. Stents are used to keep open tubes in the body that are in danger of becoming blocked off. For example, in cancer of the lung a stent may be used to keep open an airway that is becoming blocked by a tumor (cancer growth).

Sterilization

Has two meanings:
1: To thoroughly clean something and kill any bacteria that might be there.
2: To prevent pregnancy by tying the tubes from a woman's ovaries, or cutting the tubes that carry sperm in a man.

Sterility

Inability to have children.

Sternum
(Chest Bone)

The bone at the front of the chest where the ribs meet. Bone marrow is sometimes taken from the sternum during a bone marrow harvest. See Bone Marrow Harvest.

Steroid Replacement Therapy

To give steroid tablets when the body is not producing them naturally.

Steroids

Substances made naturally in the body. Have many different uses, including the immune response. Steroids can now be made artificially and given as treatment in tablets or injections. In lymphomas they are given with chemotherapy as part of the treatment. They have side effects such as difficulty sleeping, increased appetite and water retention. See Chemotherapy, Lymphomas.

Stoma

An opening onto the outside of the body. There are several different types of stoma. A colostomy is an opening of the large bowel onto the outside of the abdomen. An ileostomy is an opening of the small bowel onto the outside of the abdomen. A urostomy is an opening of the urinary system onto the outside of the abdomen (made after the bladder has been removed). See Colostomy.

Stoma Appliances
(Stoma Bag, Stoma Bags)

Bags and seals that are made to use with a stoma. There are many different designs of these and it may take a few tries to find the one that suits you. See Colostomy, Stoma, Stoma Nurse.

Stoma Nurse

Nurse who is specially trained and experienced at working with people who have a colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy. The stoma nurse can help you find the right type of stoma appliances for you and help solve any problems or difficulties that you may be having coping with your stoma. See Stoma, Stoma Appliances.

Stomach

Organ of the digestive system. The stomach digests food and absorbs water. Lymphoma can sometimes develop in the stomach. See Lymphoma.

Stridor

Rasping noise made when breathing. Stridor usually means that an airway is partly blocked in some way. See Airways.

Strontium
(Metastron, Sr89)

A radioactive isotope used to treat bone cancer. A small dose is injected into the body. It finds it way into the bones where it delivers a high local dose of radiotherapy. See Internal Radiotherapy.

Subcapsular Orchidectomy

Removal of the inner part of a testicle from inside its covering, or capsule.

Subcutaneous Breast Reconstruction

Type of Breast Reconstruction where the skin and nipple are left in place, the breast tissue removed from underneath, and an implant put in under the skin.

Subcutaneous Injection
(Subcutaneously)

Injection under the skin.

Submuscular Breast Reconstruction

Type of Breast Reconstruction where an implant is put under the muscles of the chest wall after the breast has been removed.

Support Group
(Cancer Support Group, Support Groups)

Groups of patients (and sometimes their relatives or friends) who have the same type of disease. Get together to talk about their experiences and find ways of helping themselves.

Suppressor T Cell

Specialized type of white blood cell that tells B cells when to stop making antibodies. Part of the immune response. See B Cells, Immune Response, Immune System, T Cells.

Surgery

Medical treatment to remove or repair body tissue during an operation. Surgery can be done with a scalpel (knife) or with lasers.

Symptom
(Symptoms)

Anything noticed by a patient that indicates there is something wrong. Can help the doctor diagnose a particular disease.

Symptom Control

Treatment to manage or control the effects of a disease such as pain or sickness.

Symptom Control Team

Team of doctors, nurses and other health workers who specialize in managing or controlling the effects of diseases such as pain, sickness.

Systemic Disease

A disease that affects the whole body. Leukemia's and lymphomas are systemic diseases because the blood system and the lymphatic system are all over the body. Systemic diseases are treated with treatments that cover the whole body such as chemotherapy, rather than local treatments such as surgery. See Lymphomas.

Systemic Treatment

Treatment that covers the whole body. For example, chemotherapy is usually a systemic treatment because it circulates throughout the body in the blood stream. Systemic treatments are best for cancers that have spread. See Chemotherapy, Local Treatment.


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(Song *My Reflection In Your Eyes* Composed by: Bruce DeBoer
Bruce DeBoer's Original Compositions
Used With Permission Copyright 1998 All Rights Reserved)