NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

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The NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms features 7,916 terms related to cancer and medicine.

Browse the dictionary by selecting a letter of the alphabet or by entering a cancer-related word or phrase in the search box.

847 results found for: S
S-1
A drug that is being studied for its ability to enhance the effectiveness of fluorouracil and prevent gastrointestinal side effects caused by fluorouracil. It belongs to the family of drugs called antimetabolites.
S100 calcium binding protein A8
(… KAL-see-um … PROH-teen …)
A protein that is made by many different types of cells and is involved in processes that take place both inside and outside of the cell. It is made in larger amounts in inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, and in some types of cancer. It is being studied as a biomarker for breast cancer. Also called calgranulin A.
S100 calcium binding protein A9
(… KAL-see-um … PROH-teen …)
A protein that is made by many different types of cells and is involved in processes that take place both inside and outside of the cell. It is made in larger amounts in inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, and in some types of cancer. It is being studied as a biomarker for breast cancer. Also called calgranulin B.
SAB
A temporary loss of feeling in the abdomen and/or the lower part of the body. Special drugs called anesthetics are injected into the fluid in the lower part of the spinal column to cause the loss of feeling. The patient stays awake during the procedure. It is a type of regional anesthesia. Also called spinal anesthesia, spinal block, and subarachnoid block.
sacrum
(SAY-krum)
The large, triangle-shaped bone in the lower spine that forms part of the pelvis. It is made of 5 fused bones of the spine.
safingol
(SA-fin-gol)
A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called protein kinase inhibitors. Also called L-threo-dihydrosphingosine.
SAHA
A drug that is used to treat cutaneous T-cell lymphoma that does not get better, gets worse, or comes back during or after treatment with other drugs. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. SAHA is a type of histone deacetylase inhibitor. Also called suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid, vorinostat, and Zolinza.
saline
(SAY-leen)
A solution of salt and water.
saliva
(suh-LY-vuh)
The watery fluid in the mouth made by the salivary glands. Saliva moistens food to help digestion and it helps protect the mouth against infections.
salivary gland
(SA-lih-VAYR-ee gland)
A gland in the mouth that produces saliva.
salivary gland cancer
(SA-lih-VAYR-ee gland KAN-ser)
A rare cancer that forms in tissues of a salivary gland (gland in the mouth that makes saliva). Most salivary gland cancers occur in older people.
salpingo-oophorectomy
(sal-PIN-goh-oh-oh-foh-REK-toh-mee)
Surgical removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries.
salvage therapy
(SAL-vij THAYR-uh-pee)
Treatment that is given after the cancer has not responded to other treatments.
samarium 153
(suh-MAYR-ee-um ...)
A radioactive substance used in the treatment of bone cancer and bone metastases (cancers that have spread from the original tumor to the bone). Samarium 153 is a radioactive form of the element samarium. It collects in bone, where it releases radiation that may kill cancer cells. It is a type of radioisotope.
samarium Sm 153 lexidronam pentasodium
(suh-MAYR-ee-um…LEK-sih-DROH-nam PEN-tuh-SOH-dee-um)
A drug used to treat bone pain caused by bone cancer and other cancers that have spread to the bone. It contains a radioactive substance called samarium SM 153. Samarium Sm 153 lexidronam pentasodium collects in bone and gives off radiation that may kill cancer cells. It is a type of radiopharmaceutical. Also called Quadramet.
saponin
(SA-poh-nin)
A substance found in soybeans and many other plants. Saponins may help lower cholesterol and may have anticancer effects.
saquinavir mesylate
(sa-KWIH-nuh-veer MEH-zih-layt)
A drug that belongs to the family of drugs called protease inhibitors. It interferes with the ability of a virus to make copies of itself.
sarCNU
A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is a type of alkylating agent. Also called sarcosinamide nitrosourea.
sarcoid
(SAR-koyd)
An inflammatory disease marked by the formation of granulomas (small nodules of immune cells) in the lungs, lymph nodes, and other organs. Sarcoid may be acute and go away by itself, or it may be chronic and progressive. Also called sarcoidosis.
sarcoidosis
(SAR-koy-DOH-sis)
An inflammatory disease marked by the formation of granulomas (small nodules of immune cells) in the lungs, lymph nodes, and other organs. Sarcoidosis may be acute and go away by itself, or it may be chronic and progressive. Also called sarcoid.
sarcoma
(sar-KOH-muh)
A type of cancer that begins in bone or in the soft tissues of the body, including cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, fibrous tissue, or other connective or supportive tissue. Different types of sarcoma are based on where the cancer forms. For example, osteosarcoma forms in bone, liposarcoma forms in fat, and rhabdomyosarcoma forms in muscle. Treatment and prognosis depend on the type and grade of the cancer (how abnormal the cancer cells look under a microscope and how quickly the cancer is likely to grow and spread). Sarcoma occurs in both adults and children.
sarcomatoid carcinoma
(sar-KOH-muh-toyd KAR-sih-NOH-muh)
A type of cancer that looks like a mixture of carcinoma (cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs in the body) and sarcoma (cancer of the bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, or other connective or supportive tissue). The sarcoma-like cells are often spindle cells. Under a microscope, spindle cells look long and slender.
sarcosinamide nitrosourea
(SAR-koh-SIH-nuh-MIDE ny-TROH-soh-YOO-ree-uh)
A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is a type of alkylating agent. Also called sarCNU.
sargramostim
(sar-GRA-moh-stim)
A substance that helps make more white blood cells, especially granulocytes, macrophages, and cells that become platelets. It is a cytokine that is a type of hematopoietic (blood-forming) agent. Also called GM-CSF and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor.
satellite tumor
(SA-teh-lite TOO-mer)
A type of skin cancer on or under the skin that has spread from the primary tumor through the lymph system and is not more than 2 centimeters away from the original tumor.
satraplatin
(SA-truh-PLA-tin)
A substance being studied in the treatment of prostate and other types of cancer. It contains the metal platinum and may kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA and stopping them from dividing. It is a type of alkylating agent. Also called BMS-182751 and JM 216.
saturated fat
(SA-chuh-RAY-ted…)
A type of fat with certain chemical properties that is usually solid at room temperature. Most saturated fats come from animal food products, but some plant oils, such as palm and coconut oil, also contain high levels. Eating saturated fat increases the level of cholesterol in the blood and the risk of heart disease.
saw palmetto
(...pawl-MEH-toh)
A shrub that is a member of the palm tree family. An extract made from the berries of this shrub has been studied in the treatment of certain urinary and prostate disorders. The scientific name is Serenoa repens.
SB-715992
A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. SB-715992 blocks a protein that tumor cells need to divide. It is a type of mitotic inhibitor. Also called ispinesib.
SB939
A substance being studied in the treatment of several types of cancer. SB939 blocks the action of an enzyme called histone deacetylase (HDAC) and may stop tumor cells from dividing. It is a type of HDAC inhibitor.
SC-70935
A substance being studied for its ability to stimulate the production of blood cells during chemotherapy. It is a type of colony-stimulating factor. Also called leridistim.
scalpel
(SKAL-pul)
A small, thin knife used for surgery.
scan
(skan)
A type of test that makes detailed pictures of areas inside the body. A scan may also refer to the picture that gets made during the test. Scans may be used to help diagnose disease, plan treatment, or find out how well treatment is working. There are many different types of scans, including computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and nuclear medicine scans (such as bone scans and liver scans). CT scans are done with an x-ray machine linked to a computer. MRI scans are done with radio waves and a powerful magnet linked to a computer. Nuclear medicine scans are done with small amounts of radioactive substances that are injected into the body and a special machine that detects the radioactive substance.
scanner
(SKA-ner)
In medicine, an instrument that takes pictures of the inside of the body.
scapula
(SKA-pyoo-luh)
One of a pair of triangular bones at the back of the shoulder. The scapula connects the collarbone with the upper arm bone. Also called shoulder blade.
scar tissue
(skar TIH-shoo)
Fibrous tissue that forms when normal tissue is destroyed by disease, injury, or surgery. For example, scar tissue forms when a wound heals after a cut, sore, burn, or other skin condition, or when an incision (cut) is made into the skin during surgery. It may also form inside the body when certain conditions, such as cirrhosis, cause normal tissue to become fibrous tissue.
scatter radiation
(SKA-ter RAY-dee-AY-shun)
Radiation that spreads out in different directions from a radiation beam when the beam interacts with a substance, such as body tissue. For example, during x-ray mammography, very small amounts of radiation may be scattered to areas away from the breast, such as the head and neck, sternum, and thyroid gland. The energy of scatter radiation is usually much lower than that of the original radiation beam.
SCF
A substance that causes blood stem cells (cells from which other types of cells develop) to change into different types of blood cells and increases the number and actions of these cells in the blood. SCF is a type of cytokine and a type of growth factor. Also called kit ligand and stem cell factor.
SCH 54031
A drug used to treat melanoma and hepatitis C. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. It is used under the brand name Sylatron to treat melanoma in patients who have had surgery to remove cancer that has spread to lymph nodes. It is used under the brand name PEG-Intron to treat hepatitis C infections. SCH 54031 is a form of interferon alfa (a substance normally made by cells in the immune system) linked to a substance called PEG, which makes the drug stay in the body longer. SCH 54031 is made in the laboratory. It is a type of cytokine and a type of biological response modifier. Also called peginterferon alfa-2b.
SCH 66336
An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called enzyme inhibitors. Also called lonafarnib.
SCH-58500
A substance that has been studied in the treatment of some types of cancer. SCH-58500 is a weakened adenovirus that carries the p53 gene into tumor cells, causing them to die. It is a type of gene therapy. Also called ACN53, rAd/p53, and recombinant adenovirus-p53.
Schiller test
(SHIH-ler …)
A test in which iodine is applied to the cervix. The iodine colors healthy cells brown; abnormal cells remain unstained, usually appearing white or yellow.
schistosome
(SHIS-tuh-some)
A parasitic worm that can cause diseases of the liver, bladder, and gastrointestinal tract. One type of schistosome has been linked to bladder cancer. Schistosomes are found in Africa, the Middle East, East Asia, the Caribbean, and South America.
schizophrenia
(SKIT-soh-FREE-nee-uh)
A group of severe mental disorders in which a person has trouble telling the difference between real and unreal experiences, thinking logically, having normal emotional responses to others, and behaving normally in social situations. Symptoms include seeing, hearing, feeling things that are not there, having false ideas about what is taking place or who one is, nonsense speech, unusual behavior, lack of emotion, and social withdrawal.
school liaison
(skool lee-AY-zan)
A person who helps a child return to school after a serious illness, such as cancer, or a long hospital stay. A school liaison may also arrange for education services in the child’s home or at the hospital if the child is not able to return to school. School liaisons help parents, teachers, and other students understand special issues that the child may have in returning to the classroom as a result of the illness or its treatment. This may help in planning extra education services and support that the child may need.
Schwann cell
(shwan sel)
A type of glial cell of the peripheral nervous system that helps separate and insulate nerve cells.
schwannoma
(shwah-NOH-muh)
A tumor of the peripheral nervous system that arises in the nerve sheath (protective covering). It is almost always benign, but rare malignant schwannomas have been reported.
SCID
A rare, inherited disease that is marked by a lack of B lymphocytes (white blood cells that make antibodies and help fight infections) and a lack of T lymphocytes (white blood cells that attack virus-infected cells, foreign cells, and cancer cells). Patients with this disease have a high risk of developing viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. Also called severe combined immunodeficiency disease.
scientific review committee
(SY-en-TIH-fik ree-VYOO kuh-MIH-tee)
A group of doctors, scientists, and other experts that reviews the detailed plan of a clinical trial for scientific quality and correct study design. There is a scientific review committee at every health care facility that does clinical research. Most clinical trials are reviewed by the scientific review committee before they go to the facility’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) for approval. Also called scientific review panel.
scientific review panel
(SY-en-TIH-fik ree-VYOO PA-nil)
A group of doctors, scientists, and other experts that reviews the detailed plan of a clinical trial for scientific quality and correct study design. There is a scientific review panel at every health care facility that does clinical research. Most clinical trials are reviewed by the scientific review panel before they go to the facility’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) for approval. Also called scientific review committee.
scientist
(SY-en-tist)
A person who has studied science, especially one who is active in a particular field of investigation.
scintigraphy
(sin-TIH-gruh-fee)
A procedure that produces pictures (scans) of structures inside the body, including areas where there are cancer cells. Scintigraphy is used to diagnose, stage, and monitor disease. A small amount of a radioactive chemical (radionuclide) is injected into a vein or swallowed. Different radionuclides travel through the blood to different organs. A machine with a special camera moves over the person lying on a table and detects the type of radiation given off by the radionuclides. A computer forms an image of the areas where the radionuclide builds up. These areas may contain cancer cells. Also called radionuclide scanning.
scintimammography
(SIN-tih-ma-MAH-gruh-fee)
A type of breast imaging test that is used to detect cancer cells in the breasts of some women who have had abnormal mammograms, or who have dense breast tissue. It is not used for screening or in place of a mammogram. In this test, a woman receives an injection of a small amount of a radioactive substance called technetium 99, which is taken up by cancer cells, and a gamma camera is used to take pictures of the breasts. Also called Miraluma test and sestamibi breast imaging.
sclera
(SKLAYR-uh)
The white layer of the eye that covers most of the outside of the eyeball.
scleroderma
(SKLAYR-oh-DER-muh)
A chronic disorder marked by hardening and thickening of the skin. Scleroderma can be localized or it can affect the entire body (systemic).
sclerosing adenosis
(skleh-ROH-sing A-deh-NOH-sis)
A benign condition in which scar-like tissue is found in a gland, such as the breast lobules or the prostate. A biopsy may be needed to tell the difference between the abnormal tissue and cancer. Women with sclerosing adenosis of the breast may have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer.
scoliosis
(SKOH-lee-OH-sis)
A condition marked by a side-to-side curve of the backbone. The curve is usually shaped like an S or a C. In most cases, the cause of scoliosis is not known. In some cases, scoliosis may be present at birth or it may be caused by muscle spasms, inflammation, tumors, or certain other disorders. It may also occur at some point in time after radiation therapy to the backbone.
SC-PEG E. coli L-asparaginase
(… as-PAYR-uh-jih-NAYS)
A drug used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). It is a form of the anticancer drug PEG-asparaginase that stays in the body longer. SC-PEG E. coli L-asparaginase is an enzyme that breaks down the amino acid asparagine and may block the growth of tumor cells that need asparagine to grow. It is a type of protein synthesis inhibitor. Also called EZN-2285 and Oncaspar-IV.
screening
(SKREE-ning)
Checking for disease when there are no symptoms. Since screening may find diseases at an early stage, there may be a better chance of curing the disease. Examples of cancer screening tests are the mammogram (breast), colonoscopy (colon), and the Pap test and HPV test (cervix). Screening can also include checking for a person’s risk of developing an inherited disease by doing a genetic test.
screening mammogram
(SKREE-ning MA-muh-gram)
X-rays of the breasts taken to check for breast cancer in the absence of signs or symptoms.
scrotum
(SKROH-tum)
In males, the external sac that contains the testicles.
Scutellaria barbata
(skoo-tuh-LAYR-ee-uh bar-BAY-tuh)
An herb that belongs to a group of herbs named the Scutellaria species or scullcap. Both the root and the above-ground part have been used to make herbal medicines. The root has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat lung cancer and other medical problems.
SDR
An aunt, uncle, grandparent, grandchild, niece, nephew, or half-brother or -sister. Also called second-degree relative.
SDS
A rare, inherited disorder in which the pancreas and bone marrow do not work the way they should. Symptoms include problems digesting food, a low number of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell), bone problems, and being short. Infants with the disorder get bacterial infections and are at an increased risk of aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, and leukemia. Also called Shwachman syndrome and Shwachman-Diamond syndrome.
SDX-102
A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called antimetabolites. Also called alanosine.
sebum
(SEE-bum)
An oily substance produced by certain glands in the skin.
second opinion
(SEH-kund uh-PIN-yun)
In medicine, the opinion of a doctor other than the patient’s current doctor. The second doctor reviews the patient’s medical records and gives an opinion about the patient’s health problem and how it should be treated. A second opinion may confirm or question the first doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan, give more information about the patient’s disease or condition, and offer other treatment options.
second primary cancer
(SEH-kund PRY-mayr-ee KAN-ser)
Refers to a new primary cancer in a person with a history of cancer.
secondary cancer
(SEH-kun-dayr-ee KAN-ser)
A term that is used to describe cancer that has spread (metastasized) from the place where it first started to another part of the body. Secondary cancers are the same type of cancer as the original (primary) cancer. For example, cancer cells may spread from the breast (primary cancer) to form new tumors in the lung (secondary cancer). The cancer cells in the lung are breast cancer cells, not lung cancer. Also called secondary tumor.
secondary tumor
(SEH-kun-dayr-ee TOO-mer)
A term that is used to describe cancer that has spread (metastasized) from the place where it first started to another part of the body. Secondary tumors are the same type of cancer as the original (primary) cancer. For example, cancer cells may spread from the breast (primary cancer) to form new tumors in the lung (secondary tumor). The cancer cells in the lung are breast cancer cells, not lung cancer. Also called secondary cancer.
second-degree relative
(SEH-kund-deh-GREE REH-luh-tiv)
An aunt, uncle, grandparent, grandchild, niece, nephew, or half-brother or -sister. Also called SDR.
secondhand smoke
(SEH-kund-hand ...)
Smoke that comes from the burning of a tobacco product and smoke that is exhaled by smokers. Inhaling secondhand smoke is called involuntary or passive smoking. Also called environmental tobacco smoke and ETS.
second-line therapy
(SEH-kund ... THAYR-uh-pee)
Treatment that is given when initial treatment (first-line therapy) doesn’t work, or stops working.
second-look surgery
(SEH-kund ... SER-juh-ree)
Surgery performed after primary treatment to determine whether tumor cells remain.
secrete
(seh-KREET)
To form and release a substance. In the body, cells secrete substances, such as sweat that cools the body or hormones that act in other parts of the body.
secretin
(seh-KREE-tin)
A hormone released into the blood by cells in the inner layer of the small intestine. It is released when partly digested food moves from the stomach into the small intestine. Secretin causes the pancreas, liver, and stomach to release other substances that help digest food. Secretin may also be made in the laboratory.
secretin human
(seh-KREE-tin HYOO-mun)
A drug used to help diagnose gastrinomas (tumors that cause too much gastric acid to be made) and other problems with the pancreas. It is also used to increase secretions from the pancreas and to help identify a duct called the ampulla of Vater. Secretin human is a form of secretin that is made in the laboratory. Secretin causes the pancreas, liver, and stomach to release substances that help digest food. Also called ChiRhoStim and synthetic human secretin.
secretin stimulation test
(seh-KREE-tin STIM-yoo-LAY-shun …)
A test used to help diagnose problems in the pancreas, such as gastrinomas and pancreatitis. It measures the ability of the pancreas to respond to the hormone secretin (a hormone that causes other substances to be released by the stomach, liver, and pancreas). Secretin is given to the patient by a tube put through the nose or throat into the small intestine and stomach or by injection into a vein. After a certain amount of time, samples are taken to be sent to a laboratory for testing. It is a type of pancreatic function test. Also called pancreatic function test.
sedation
(seh-DAY-shun)
A state of calmness, relaxation, or sleepiness caused by certain drugs. Sedation may be used to help relieve anxiety during medical or surgical procedures or to help cope with very stressful events. Drugs that relieve pain may be used at the same time.
sedative
(SEH-duh-tiv)
A drug or substance used to calm a person down, relieve anxiety, or help a person sleep.
sedimentation rate
(SEH-dih-men-TAY-shun rayt)
The distance red blood cells travel in one hour in a sample of blood as they settle to the bottom of a test tube. The sedimentation rate is increased in inflammation, infection, cancer, rheumatic diseases, and diseases of the blood and bone marrow. Also called erythrocyte sedimentation rate and ESR.
sedoxantrone trihydrochloride
(seh-DOK-san-trone try-HY-droh-KLOR-ide)
A substance being studied in the treatment of some types of cancer. Sedoxantrone trihydrochloride binds to DNA and stops cells, including cancer cells, from repairing damage to DNA and from making more DNA, RNA, and protein. It is a type of DNA intercalator. Also called CI-958.
SEGA
A benign (not cancer), slow-growing tumor that usually forms in the walls of fluid-filled spaces in the brain. The tumors are made up of large, star-shaped cells called astrocytes. SEGAs are common in patients with tuberous sclerosis (an inherited disorder in which benign tumors form in the brain and other parts of the body). Also called subependymal giant cell astrocytoma.
segmental cystectomy
(seg-MEN-tul sis-TEK-toh-mee)
Surgery to remove part of the bladder (the organ that holds urine). Also called partial cystectomy.
segmental mastectomy
(seg-MEN-tul ma-STEK-toh-mee)
An operation to remove the cancer and some normal tissue around it, but not the breast itself. Some lymph nodes under the arm may be removed for biopsy. Part of the chest wall lining may also be removed if the cancer is near it. Also called breast-conserving surgery, breast-sparing surgery, lumpectomy, partial mastectomy, and quadrantectomy.
segmental resection
(seg-MEN-tul ree-SEK-shun)
Surgery to remove part of an organ or gland. It may also be used to remove a tumor and normal tissue around it. In lung cancer surgery, segmental resection refers to removing a section of a lobe of the lung. Also called segmentectomy.
segmentectomy
(seg-men-TEK-toh-mee)
Surgery to remove part of an organ or gland. It may also be used to remove a tumor and normal tissue around it. In lung cancer surgery, segmentectomy refers to removing a section of a lobe of the lung. Also called segmental resection.
seizure
(SEE-zher)
Sudden, uncontrolled body movements and changes in behavior that occur because of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Symptoms include loss of awareness, changes in emotion, loss of muscle control, and shaking. Seizures may be caused by drugs, high fevers, head injuries, and certain diseases, such as epilepsy.
selection bias
(seh-LEK-shun BY-us)
An error in choosing the individuals or groups to take part in a study. Ideally, the subjects in a study should be very similar to one another and to the larger population from which they are drawn (for example, all individuals with the same disease or condition). If there are important differences, the results of the study may not be valid.
selective estrogen receptor modulator
(seh-LEK-tiv ES-truh-jin reh-SEP-ter MAH-juh-lay-ter)
A drug that acts like estrogen on some tissues but blocks the effect of estrogen on other tissues. Tamoxifen and raloxifene are selective estrogen receptor modulators. Also called SERM.
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
(seh-LEK-tiv SAYR-uh-TOH-nin ree-UP-tayk in-HIH-bih-ter)
A type of drug that is used to treat depression. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors slow the process by which serotonin (a substance that nerves use to send messages to one another) is reused by nerve cells that make it. This increases the amount of serotonin available for stimulating other nerves. Also called SSRI.
selenium
(seh-LEE-nee-um)
A mineral that is needed by the body to stay healthy. It is being studied in the prevention and treatment of some types of cancer. Selenium is a type of antioxidant.
self-esteem
(self-eh-STEEM)
A feeling of self-worth, self-confidence, and self-respect.
sella turcica
(SEL-uh TER-sih-kuh)
A depression of the bone at the base of the skull where the pituitary gland is located.
selumetinib
(SEL-yoo-MEH-tih-nib)
A substance being studied in the treatment of several types of cancer. Selumetinib blocks proteins needed for cell growth and may kill cancer cells. It is a type of protein kinase inhibitor. Also called AZD6244 and MEK inhibitor AZD6244.
semaxanib
(seh-MAK-suh-nib)
A substance that has been studied in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to the families of drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors and tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Also called SU5416.
semen
(SEE-men)
The fluid that is released through the penis during orgasm. Semen is made up of sperm from the testicles and fluid from the prostate and other sex glands.
Se-methyl-seleno-L-cysteine
(… MEH-thul-seh-LEE-noh-L-SIS-teh-een)
A substance that contains the element selenium (a nutrient that protects cells against damage) and is found in certain plants such as garlic and broccoli. Se-methyl-seleno-L-cysteine can act as an antioxidant and may help prevent or slow the growth of cancer cells. It is a type of amino acid.
seminal fluid
(SEH-mih-nul FLOO-id)
Fluid from the prostate and other sex glands that helps transport sperm out of the man's body during orgasm. Seminal fluid contains sugar as an energy source for sperm.
seminal vesicle
(SEH-mih-nul VEH-sih-kul)
A gland that helps produce semen.
seminal vesicle biopsy
(SEH-mih-nul VEH-sih-kul BY-op-see)
The removal of fluid or tissue with a needle from the seminal vesicles for examination under a microscope. The seminal vesicles are glands in the male reproductive tract that produce a part of semen.
seminoma
(SEH-mih-NOH-muh)
A type of cancer that begins in cells that make sperm or eggs. Seminomas occur most often in the testicles or the ovaries. They may also occur in other organs, such as the brain, chest, or abdomen. This happens when cells that have the ability to form sperm or eggs are found in other parts of the body. Seminomas grow and spread slowly.
semiparasitic
(SEH-mee-PAYR-uh-SIH-tik)
In botany, a plant that gets food from a host but also contains chlorophyll and is capable of photosynthesis.
semustine
(seh-MUS-teen)
A substance that has been studied in the treatment of some types of cancer. Semustine damages the cell’s DNA and may kill cancer cells. It is a type of alkylating agent and a type of nitrosourea.
Seneca Valley virus-001
(SEH-nih-kuh VA-lee VY-rus…)
A virus being studied in the treatment of neuroendocrine tumors and other types of cancer. Neuroendocrine tumors form from cells that release hormones in response to a signal from the nervous system. The virus infects and breaks down these tumor cells but not normal cells. It is a type of oncolytic virus. Also called NTX-010 and SVV-001.
senega root
(SEH-neh-guh root)
The root of an herb called Polygala senega. It has been used in some cultures to treat certain medical problems, including problems of the respiratory system.
senile keratosis
(SEE-nile KAYR-uh-TOH-sis)
A thick, scaly patch of skin that may become cancer. It usually forms on areas exposed to the sun, such as the face, scalp, back of the hands, or chest. It is most common in people with fair skin. Also called actinic keratosis and solar keratosis.
sensitivity
(SEN-sih-TIH-vih-tee)
In medicine, sensitivity may describe how well a test can detect a specific disease or condition in people who actually have the disease or condition. No test has 100% sensitivity because some people who have the disease or condition will not be identified by the test (false-negative test result). Sensitivity may also refer to the way the body reacts to the environment or to drugs, chemicals, or other substances. For example, a person who is sensitive to the sun may have skin that burns easily or get a rash when exposed to the sun. A person who is sensitive to caffeine may need only small amounts of it to feel its effects.
sensor
(SEN-sor)
A device that responds to a stimulus, such as heat, light, or pressure, and generates a signal that can be measured or interpreted.
Sensorcaine
(SEN-sor-kane)
A drug used to relieve pain by blocking signals at nerve endings. It is being studied in the relief of pain following surgery for cancer. It is a type of local anesthetic. Also called bupivacaine, bupivacaine hydrochloride, and Marcaine.
sensory
(SEN-sor-ee)
Having to do with the senses.
sentinel lymph node
(SEN-tih-nul limf node)
The first lymph node to which cancer is likely to spread from the primary tumor. When cancer spreads, the cancer cells may appear first in the sentinel node before spreading to other lymph nodes.
sentinel lymph node biopsy
(SEN-tih-nul limf node BY-op-see)
Removal and examination of the sentinel node(s) (the first lymph node(s) to which cancer cells are likely to spread from a primary tumor). To identify the sentinel lymph node(s), the surgeon injects a radioactive substance, blue dye, or both near the tumor. The surgeon then uses a probe to find the sentinel lymph node(s) containing the radioactive substance or looks for the lymph node(s) stained with dye. The surgeon then removes the sentinel node(s) to check for the presence of cancer cells.
sentinel lymph node mapping
(SEN-tih-nul limf node MA-ping)
The use of dyes and radioactive substances to identify the first lymph node to which cancer is likely to spread from the primary tumor. Cancer cells may appear first in the sentinel node before spreading to other lymph nodes and other places in the body.
seocalcitol
(see-oh-KAL-sih-tol)
A substance that is being studied as a treatment for cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called vitamin D analogs.
sepsis
(SEP-sis)
The presence of bacteria or their toxins in the blood or tissues.
septate
(SEP-tate)
An organ or structure that is divided into compartments.
septicemia
(SEP-tih-SEE-mee-uh)
Disease caused by the spread of bacteria and their toxins in the bloodstream. Also called blood poisoning and toxemia.
sequential AC/Taxol-Trastuzumab regimen
(see-KWEN-shul … TAK-sol-tras-TOO-zoo-mab REH-jih-men)
An abbreviation for a chemotherapy combination used to treat breast cancer. It includes the drugs doxorubicin hydrochloride (Adriamycin) and cyclophosphamide, followed by treatment with paclitaxel (Taxol) and trastuzumab (Herceptin). Also called AC-T-T, AC-T-T regimen, and AC-TH regimen.
sequential treatment
(see-KWEN-shul TREET-ment)
One treatment after the other.
SERM
A drug that acts like estrogen on some tissues but blocks the effect of estrogen on other tissues. Tamoxifen and raloxifene are SERMs. Also called selective estrogen receptor modulator.
seroma
(see-ROH-muh)
A mass or lump caused by a buildup of clear fluid in a tissue, organ, or body cavity. It usually goes away on its own but may need to be drained with a needle. It often occurs after breast surgery.
Seromycin
(SAYR-oh-MY-sin)
A drug used to treat tuberculosis. It is also being studied in the treatment of pain and nerve problems (numbness, tingling) caused by chemotherapy and in the treatment of low back pain, autism, certain anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia. Seromycin is a type of antibiotic. Also called D-cycloserine.
serosa
(seh-ROH-suh)
The outer lining of organs and body cavities of the abdomen and chest, including the stomach. Also called serous membrane.
serotonin
(SAYR-uh-TOH-nin)
A hormone found in the brain, platelets, digestive tract, and pineal gland. It acts both as a neurotransmitter (a substance that nerves use to send messages to one another) and a vasoconstrictor (a substance that causes blood vessels to narrow). A lack of serotonin in the brain is thought to be a cause of depression. Also called 5-hydroxytryptamine.
serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor
(sayr-uh-TOH-nin-NOR-eh-pih-NEH-frin ree-UP-tayk in-HIH-bih-ter)
A type of drug that is used to treat depression and certain other disorders. Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors increase the levels of the chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Nerves use these chemicals to send messages to one another. Increasing their levels in the brain helps improve mood. Also called SNRI.
serous
(SEER-us)
Having to do with serum, the clear liquid part of blood.
serous membrane
(SEER-us MEM-brayn)
The outer lining of organs and body cavities of the abdomen and chest, including the stomach. Also called serosa.
Sertoli-Leydig cell tumor of the ovary
(ser-TOH-lee-LY-dig sel TOO-mer ... OH-vuh-ree)
A rare type of ovarian tumor in which the tumor cells secrete a male sex hormone. This may cause virilization (the appearance of male physical characteristics in females). Also called androblastoma and arrhenoblastoma.
sertraline
(SER-truh-leen)
A drug used to treat depression. It is a type of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Also called Zoloft.
serum
(SEER-um)
The clear liquid part of the blood that remains after blood cells and clotting proteins have been removed.
serum albumin
(SEER-um al-BYOO-min)
The main protein in blood plasma. Low levels of serum albumin occur in people with malnutrition, inflammation, and serious liver and kidney disease.
serum glutamate pyruvate transaminase
(SEER-um GLOO-tuh-mayt py-ROO-vayt tranz-A-mih-nays)
An enzyme found in the liver and other tissues. A high level of serum glutamate pyruvate transaminase released into the blood may be a sign of liver damage, cancer, or other diseases. Also called alanine transferase and SGPT.
serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase
(SEER-um gloo-TA-mik-ok-SA-loh-uh-SEE-tik tranz-A-mih-nays)
An enzyme found in the liver, heart, and other tissues. A high level of serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase released into the blood may be a sign of liver or heart damage, cancer, or other diseases. Also called aspartate transaminase and SGOT.
serum tumor marker test
(SEER-um TOO-mer MAR-ker ...)
A blood test that measures the amount of substances called tumor markers (or biomarkers). Tumor markers are released into the blood by tumor cells or by other cells in response to tumor cells. A high level of a tumor marker may be a sign of cancer.
Serzone
(SER-zone)
A drug used to treat depression. It belongs to the family of drugs called antidepressant agents. Also called nefazodone.
sesquiterpene lactone
(SES-kwih-TER-peen LAK-tone)
A substance found in some plants. Sesquiterpene lactones may have anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects. Plants containing sesquiterpene lactones have been used in some cultures to treat certain medical problems.
sestamibi breast imaging
(SES-tuh-MIH-bee brest IH-muh-jing)
A type of breast imaging test that is used to detect cancer cells in the breasts of some women who have had abnormal mammograms, or who have dense breast tissue. It is not used for screening or in place of a mammogram. In this test, a woman receives an injection of a small amount of a radioactive substance called technetium 99, which is taken up by cancer cells, and a gamma camera is used to take pictures of the breasts. Also called Miraluma test and scintimammography.
sestamibi scan
(SES-tuh-MIH-bee...)
An imaging test used to find overactive parathyroid glands (four pea-sized glands found on the thyroid) and breast cancer cells, and to diagnose heart disease. The patient receives an injection of a small amount of a radioactive substance called technetium which is bound to another substance called sestamibi. This substance collects in overactive glands, cancer cells, heart muscle, or other tissues and a picture is taken by a gamma camera (a special camera that detects radioactivity).
severe combined immunodeficiency disease
(seh-VEER kum-BIND IH-myoo-noh-deh-FIH-shun-see dih-ZEEZ)
A rare, inherited disease that is marked by a lack of B lymphocytes (white blood cells that make antibodies and help fight infections) and a lack of T lymphocytes (white blood cells that attack virus-infected cells, foreign cells, and cancer cells). Patients with this disease have a high risk of developing viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. Also called SCID.
severe myelosuppression
(... MY-eh-loh-suh-PREH-shun)
A severe form of myelosuppression. Myelosuppression is a condition in which bone marrow activity is decreased, resulting in fewer red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It is a side effect of some cancer treatments. Also called myeloablation.
sex cord tumor
(… kord TOO-mer)
A rare type of cancer that forms in the tissues that support the ovaries or testes. These tumors may release sex hormones. Sex cord tumors include granulosa cell, Sertoli cell, and Leydig cell tumors. Also called sex cord-gonadal stromal tumor and sex cord-stromal tumor.
sex cord-gonadal stromal tumor
(… kord-goh-NA-dul STROH-mul TOO-mer)
A rare type of cancer that forms in the tissues that support the ovaries or testes. These tumors may release sex hormones. Sex cord-gonadal stromal tumors include granulosa cell, Sertoli cell, and Leydig cell tumors. Also called sex cord tumor and sex cord-stromal tumor.
sex cord-stromal tumor
(… kord-STROH-mul TOO-mer)
A rare type of cancer that forms in the tissues that support the ovaries or testes. These tumors may release sex hormones. Sex cord-stromal tumors include granulosa cell, Sertoli cell, and Leydig cell tumors. Also called sex cord tumor and sex cord-gonadal stromal tumor.
sex drive
(sex drive)
The need for sex. Also called sexual drive.
sexual drive
(SEK-shoo-ul …)
The need for sex. Also called sex drive.
sexuality
(SEK-shoo-A-lih-tee)
A person's behaviors, desires, and attitudes related to sex and physical intimacy with others.
Sezary syndrome
(say-zah-REE SIN-drome)
A cancer that affects the skin. It is a form of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.
SGN-00101
A substance that is being studied in the prevention of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called fusion proteins.
SGN-30
A monoclonal antibody that binds to cells that have the CD30 antigen on their surface, including Hodgkin disease cells and cells from anaplastic large cell lymphoma, and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. SGN-30 is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is a type of monoclonal antibody.
SGN-35
A drug used to treat Hodgkin lymphoma in patients who did not get better with other treatment, cannot be treated with autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT), or have a high risk that the cancer will come back or get worse after ASCT. It is also used to treat systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma that did not get better with other treatment. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of lymphoma. SGN-35 is made up of a monoclonal antibody linked to an anticancer drug. It binds to a protein called CD30, which is on the surface of some lymphoma cells, and may kill cancer cells. SGN-35 is a type of antibody-drug conjugate. Also called Adcetris and brentuximab vedotin.
SGN-40
A monoclonal antibody that binds to cells that have the CD40 antigen on their surface, including cells from multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. SGN-40 is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is a type of monoclonal antibody.
SGOT
An enzyme found in the liver, heart, and other tissues. A high level of SGOT released into the blood may be a sign of liver or heart damage, cancer, or other diseases. Also called aspartate transaminase and serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase.
SGPT
An enzyme found in the liver and other tissues. A high level of SGPT released into the blood may be a sign of liver damage, cancer, or other diseases. Also called alanine transferase and serum glutamate pyruvate transaminase.
sham therapy
(...THAYR-uh-pee)
An inactive treatment or procedure that is intended to mimic as closely as possible a therapy in a clinical trial. Also called placebo therapy.
shave biopsy
(shayv BY-op-see)
A procedure in which a skin abnormality and a thin layer of surrounding skin are removed with a small blade for examination under a microscope. Stitches are not needed with this procedure.
sheep sorrel
(sheep SOR-ul)
A plant that has been used in some cultures to treat certain medical problems. It may have anticancer effects. The scientific name is Rumex acetosella. Also called dock and sorrel.
Sheridan’s Formula
(SHAYR-ih-dunz FOR-myoo-luh)
A liquid that has been promoted as a treatment for a wide range of diseases, including cancer. The ingredients thought to be in Sheridan’s Formula have been tested, and none of them have been shown to be effective in treating any form of cancer. Sheridan’s Formula is not available in the United States. Also called 126–F, Cancell, Cantron, Jim’s Juice, JS–101, JS–114, and Protocel.
shiitake mushroom
(shee-TAH-kee ...)
A dark oriental mushroom widely used as a food. Several anticancer substances have been found in shiitake mushrooms, including lentinan, which has been studied in Japan as a treatment for stomach and colorectal cancer. The scientific name is Lentinus edodes.
shinbone
(SHIN-bone)
The larger of two bones between the knee and ankle. Also called tibia.
short-term side effect
(... eh-FEKT)
A problem that is caused by treatment of a disease but usually goes away after treatment ends. Short-term side effects of cancer treatment include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, fatigue, and mouth sores.
Sho-saiko-to
(shoh-sah-ee-koh-toh)
A Japanese formulation of seven Chinese herbs that is being studied as a treatment for cancer.
shoulder blade
(SHOLE-der blayd)
One of a pair of triangular bones at the back of the shoulder. The shoulder blade connects the collarbone with the upper arm bone. Also called scapula.
shunt
(shunt)
In medicine, a passage that is made to allow blood or other fluid to move from one part of the body to another. For example, a surgeon may implant a tube to drain cerebrospinal fluid from the brain to the abdomen. A surgeon may also change normal blood flow by making a passage that leads from one blood vessel to another.
Shwachman syndrome
(SHWAK-mun SIN-drome)
A rare, inherited disorder in which the pancreas and bone marrow do not work the way they should. Symptoms include problems digesting food, a low number of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell), bone problems, and being short. Infants with the disorder get bacterial infections and are at an increased risk of aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, and leukemia. Also called SDS and Shwachman-Diamond syndrome.
Shwachman-Diamond syndrome
(SHWAK-mun-DY-mund SIN-drome)
A rare, inherited disorder in which the pancreas and bone marrow do not work the way they should. Symptoms include problems digesting food, a low number of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell), bone problems, and being short. Infants with the disorder get bacterial infections and are at an increased risk of aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, and leukemia. Also called SDS and Shwachman syndrome.
sialic acid
(sy-A-lik A-sid)
Any of a group of simple sugar molecules.
sialyl Tn-KLH
(sy-A-lil ...)
A vaccine composed of a substance that enhances immunity plus an antigen found on some tumors of the colon, breast, lung, ovary, pancreas, and stomach.
sibling
(SIB-ling)
A person’s brother or sister who has the same parents.
sickle cell anemia
(SIH-kul sel uh-NEE-mee-uh)
An inherited disease in which the red blood cells have an abnormal crescent shape, block small blood vessels, and do not last as long as normal red blood cells. Sickle cell anemia is caused by a mutation (change) in one of the genes for hemoglobin (the substance inside red blood cells that binds to oxygen and carries it from the lungs to the tissues). It is most common in people of West and Central African descent. Also called sickle cell disease.
sickle cell disease
(SIH-kul sel dih-ZEEZ)
An inherited disease in which the red blood cells have an abnormal crescent shape, block small blood vessels, and do not last as long as normal red blood cells. Sickle cell disease is caused by a mutation (change) in one of the genes for hemoglobin (the substance inside red blood cells that binds to oxygen and carries it from the lungs to the tissues). It is most common in people of West and Central African descent. Also called sickle cell anemia.
side effect
(side eh-FEKT)
A problem that occurs when treatment affects healthy tissues or organs. Some common side effects of cancer treatment are fatigue, pain, nausea, vomiting, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss, and mouth sores.
sideropenic dysphagia
(SIH-der-oh-PEE-nik dis-FAY-jee-uh)
A disorder marked by anemia caused by iron deficiency, and a web-like growth of membranes in the throat that makes swallowing difficult. Having sideropenic dysphagia may increase the risk of developing esophageal cancer. Also called Paterson-Kelly syndrome and Plummer-Vinson syndrome.
sidestream smoke
(SIDE-streem …)
Smoke that comes from the lighted end of a burning tobacco product, such as a cigarette, pipe, or cigar. Sidestream smoke can be a form of secondhand smoke. It contains nicotine and many harmful, cancer-causing chemicals. Inhaling sidestream smoke increases the risk of lung cancer and may increase the risk of other types of cancer. Inhaling it also increases the risk of other health problems, such as heart disease and lung disease.
side-to-end coloanal anastomosis
(... KOH-loh-AY-nul uh-NAS-toh-MOH-sis)
A surgical procedure in which the side of the colon is attached to the anus after the rectum has been removed. A section of the colon about 2 inches long is formed into a mini-pouch in order to replace the function of the rectum and store stool until it can be eliminated. This procedure is similar to the J-pouch coloanal anastomosis but a much smaller pouch is formed.
SIDS
A disorder marked by the sudden and unexpected death of a healthy child who is younger than one year old, usually during sleep. The cause of SIDS is not known. Also called crib death and sudden infant death syndrome.
sigmoid colon
(SIG-moyd KOH-lun)
The S-shaped section of the colon that connects to the rectum.
sigmoidoscope
(sig-MOY-doh-skope)
A thin, tube-like instrument used to examine the inside of the colon. A sigmoidoscope has a light and a lens for viewing and may have a tool to remove tissue.
sigmoidoscopy
(sig-MOY-DOS-koh-pee)
Examination of the lower colon using a sigmoidoscope, inserted into the rectum. A sigmoidoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease. Also called proctosigmoidoscopy.
sign
In medicine, a sign is something found during a physical exam or from a laboratory test that shows that a person may have a condition or disease. Some examples of signs are fever, swelling, skin rash, high blood pressure, and high blood glucose.
signal transduction
(SIG-nul tranz-DUK-shun)
The process by which a cell responds to substances in its environment. The binding of a substance to a molecule on the surface of a cell causes signals to be passed from one molecule to another inside the cell. These signals can affect many functions of the cell, including cell division and cell death. Cells that have permanent changes in signal transduction molecules may develop into cancer.
signal transduction inhibitor
(SIG-nul tranz-DUK-shun in-HIH-bih-ter)
A substance that blocks signals passed from one molecule to another inside a cell. Blocking these signals can affect many functions of the cell, including cell division and cell death, and may kill cancer cells. Certain signal transduction inhibitors are being studied in the treatment of cancer.
signaling pathway
(SIG-nuh-ling …)
Describes a group of molecules in a cell that work together to control one or more cell functions, such as cell division or cell death. After the first molecule in a pathway receives a signal, it activates another molecule. This process is repeated until the last molecule is activated and the cell function is carried out. Abnormal activation of signaling pathways can lead to cancer, and drugs are being developed to block these pathways. These drugs may help block cancer cell growth and kill cancer cells.
signature molecule
(SIG-nuh-cher MAH-leh-kyool)
A biological molecule found in blood, other body fluids, or tissues that is a sign of a normal or abnormal process, or of a condition or disease. A signature molecule may be used to see how well the body responds to a treatment for a disease or condition. Also called biomarker and molecular marker.
signet ring cell carcinoma
(SIG-nut ... sel KAR-sih-NOH-muh)
A highly malignant type of cancer typically found in glandular cells that line the digestive organs. The cells resemble signet rings when examined under a microscope.
significant
(sig-NIH-fih-kunt)
In statistics, describes a mathematical measure of difference between groups. The difference is said to be significant if it is greater than what might be expected to happen by chance alone. Also called statistically significant.
SIL
A general term for the abnormal growth of squamous cells on the surface of the cervix. The changes in the cells are described as low grade or high grade, depending on how much of the cervix is affected and how abnormal the cells appear. Also called squamous intraepithelial lesion.
sildenafil
(sil-DEH-nuh-FIL)
A drug used to treat erectile dysfunction. Sildenafil relaxes the smooth muscle of the penis to allow increased blood flow and erection. It is a type of phosphodiesterase inhibitor. Also called Viagra.
silicon phthalocyanine 4
(SIH-lih-kon THA-loh-SY-uh-NEEN …)
A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. When absorbed by cancer cells and exposed to light, it becomes active and kills the cancer cells. It is a type of photodynamic therapy agent.
silicone
(SIH-lih-kone)
A synthetic gel that is used as an outer coating on breast implants and as the inside filling of some implants.
siltuximab
(sil-TUK-sih-mab)
A drug used to treat a rare condition called Castleman disease in patients who do not have HIV or human herpesvirus 8. It is also being studied in the treatment of multiple myeloma. Siltuximab binds to a protein called interleukin-6 (IL-6), which is made by some white blood cells and other cells in the body. Siltuximab may help reduce inflammation and stop the growth of cancer cells or abnormal blood cells. It is a type of monoclonal antibody. Also called anti-IL-6 chimeric monoclonal antibody, cCLB8, CNTO 328, and Sylvant.
Silybum marianum
(SIH-lih-bum mayr-ee-AY-num)
A plant that has been used in some cultures to treat certain medical problems, including stomach, liver, and gallbladder disorders. The active extract of Silybum marianum seeds is called silymarin. It is being studied in the prevention of liver damage caused by some cancer treatments. Also called milk thistle.
silymarin
(SIH-lih-MAYR-in)
A substance obtained from milk thistle seeds that is being studied in the prevention of liver damage caused by certain cancer treatments.
simian virus 40
(SIH-mee-un VY-rus…)
A virus that infects some types of monkeys. It may also infect humans, and was found in some polio vaccines tested in the early 1960s. Although the virus has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals, there is no evidence that it causes cancer in people. Also called SV40.
simple mastectomy
(SIM-pul ma-STEK-toh-mee)
Surgery to remove the whole breast. Some of the lymph nodes under the arm may also be removed. Also called total mastectomy.
simple nephrectomy
(SIM-pul neh-FREK-toh-mee)
Surgery to remove one kidney.
simple vulvectomy
(SIM-pul vul-VEK-toh-mee)
Surgery to remove the entire vulva (the external female genital organs, including the clitoris, vaginal lips, and the opening to the vagina).
simulation
(SIM-yoo-LAY-shun)
In cancer treatment, a process used to plan radiation therapy so that the target area is precisely located and marked.
simvastatin
(SIM-vuh-STA-tin)
A drug used to lower the amount of cholesterol and other harmful substances in the blood, such as triglycerides. It is also being studied in the treatment of cancer and other conditions. Simvastatin blocks an enzyme that helps make cholesterol in the body. It is a type of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor and a type of statin. Also called Zocor.
single blind study
(SING-gul blind STUH-dee)
A type of clinical trial in which only the doctor knows whether a patient is taking the standard treatment or the new treatment being tested. This helps prevent bias in treatment studies.
single nucleotide polymorphism
(SING-gul NOO-klee-oh-tide PAH-lee-MOR-fih-zum)
The most common type of change in DNA (molecules inside cells that carry genetic information). Single nucleotide polymorphisms occur when a single nucleotide (building block of DNA) is replaced with another. These changes may cause disease, and may affect how a person reacts to bacteria, viruses, drugs, and other substances. Also called SNP.
single-photon emission computed tomography
(SIN-gul-FOH-ton ee-MIH-shun kum-PYOO-ted toh-MAH-gruh-fee)
A special type of computed tomography (CT) scan in which a small amount of a radioactive drug is injected into a vein and a scanner is used to make detailed images of areas inside the body where the radioactive material is taken up by the cells. Single-photon emission computed tomography can give information about blood flow to tissues and chemical reactions (metabolism) in the body. Also called SPECT.
Singulair
(SING-yoo-layr)
A drug used to treat symptoms of asthma, such as trouble breathing, tight chest, wheezing, coughing, and runny nose. Singulair blocks the action of a substance that causes airways in the lungs to narrow and causes other symptoms of asthma. It is a type of leukotriene receptor antagonist and a type of antiasthmatic agent. Also called montelukast sodium.
sinus
(SY-nus)
A cavity, space, or channel in the body. Examples include hollow spaces in the bones at the front of the skull, and channels for blood and lymph. Sinuses may also be found in the heart, brain, and other organs.
sinusoidal obstruction syndrome
(SINE-yoo-SOY-dul ub-STRUK-shun SIN-drome)
A condition in which some of the veins in the liver are blocked. This causes a decrease in blood flow inside the liver and may lead to liver damage. Signs and symptoms include weight gain, yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, dark-colored urine, and increased liver size. It may occur at some point in time after radiation therapy to the liver and bile ducts or after high-dose anticancer drugs were given before a stem cell transplant. Also called hepatic veno-occlusive disease.
siplizumab
(sip-LIH-zoo-mab)
A substance being studied in the treatment of certain types of T-cell lymphoma. It is also being studied in the prevention of organ or tissue rejection after a kidney and/or bone marrow transplant. Siplizumab binds to a protein called CD2, which is found on some types of immune cells and cancer cells. This may help suppress the body’s immune response and it may help kill cancer cells. Siplizumab is a type of monoclonal antibody. Also called MEDI-507.
Sipple syndrome
(SIH-pul SIN-drome)
A rare, genetic disorder that affects the endocrine glands and causes a type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid cancer, pheochromocytoma, and parathyroid gland cancer. It may also cause benign (noncancerous) tumors in the parathyroid glands and adrenal glands. The affected endocrine glands may make high levels of hormones, which can lead to other medical problems such as high blood pressure and kidney stones. An itchy skin condition may also occur. Sipple syndrome is caused by a mutation (change) in a gene called RET. Also called MEN2A, MEN2A syndrome, multiple endocrine adenomatosis type 2A, and multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A syndrome.
sipuleucel-T
(SY-puh-LOO-sel...)
A drug used to treat prostate cancer that has spread. It is made from immune system cells collected from a patient with prostate cancer. The cells are treated with a protein that is made by combining a protein found on prostate cancer cells with a growth factor. When the cells are injected back into the patient, they may stimulate T cells to kill prostate cancer cells. Sipuleucel-T is a type of vaccine and a type of cellular adoptive immunotherapy. Also called APC8015 and Provenge.
sirolimus
(sih-ROH-lih-mus)
A drug used to keep the body from rejecting organ and bone marrow transplants. Sirolimus blocks certain white blood cells that can reject foreign tissues and organs. It also blocks a protein that is involved in cell division. It is a type of antibiotic, a type of immunosuppressant, and a type of serine/threonine kinase inhibitor. Sirolimus was previously called rapamycin. Also called Rapamune.
SIRS
A serious condition in which there is inflammation throughout the whole body. It may be caused by a severe bacterial infection (sepsis), trauma, or pancreatitis. It is marked by fast heart rate, low blood pressure, low or high body temperature, and low or high white blood cell count. The condition may lead to multiple organ failure and shock. Also called systemic inflammatory response syndrome.
SJG-136
A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called DNA cross-linking agents.
Sjögren syndrome
(SHOH-grin SIN-drome)
An autoimmune disease that affects the tear glands and salivary glands, and may affect glands in the stomach, pancreas, and intestines. The disease causes dry eyes and mouth, and may cause dryness in the nose, throat, air passages, skin, and vagina. It may also cause inflammation in the joints, muscles, and skin; pneumonia; tingling in the fingers and toes; and fatigue. It often occurs with rheumatoid arthritis or other connective tissue diseases.
SK&F106615
A substance being studied in the treatment of certain multiple myelomas and other advanced cancers. SK&F106615 may block the growth of tumors and may prevent the growth of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow. SK&F106615 is a type of signal transduction inhibitor and a type of antiangiogenesis agent. Also called atiprimod and azaspirane.
skeletal
(SKEH-leh-tul)
Having to do with the skeleton (bones of the body).
skeleton
(SKEH-leh-tun)
The framework that supports the soft tissues of vertebrate animals and protects many of their internal organs. The skeletons of vertebrates are made of bone and/or cartilage.
skin cancer
(skin KAN-ser)
Cancer that forms in the tissues of the skin. There are several types of skin cancer. Skin cancer that forms in melanocytes (skin cells that make pigment) is called melanoma. Skin cancer that forms in the lower part of the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin) is called basal cell carcinoma. Skin cancer that forms in squamous cells (flat cells that form the surface of the skin) is called squamous cell carcinoma. Skin cancer that forms in neuroendocrine cells (cells that release hormones in response to signals from the nervous system) is called neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin. Most skin cancers form in older people on parts of the body exposed to the sun or in people who have weakened immune systems.
skin conduction
(... kun-DUK-shun)
A change in the heat and electricity passed through the skin by nerves and sweat. Skin conduction increases in certain emotional states and during hot flashes that happen with menopause. Also called electrodermal response and galvanic skin response.
skin graft
(skin graft)
Skin that is moved from one part of the body to another.
skin patch
(skin pach)
A bandage-like patch that releases medicine into the body through the skin. The medicine enters the blood slowly and steadily.
skin stimulation
(skin STIM-yoo-LAY-shun)
The process of applying pressure, friction, temperature change, or chemical substances to the skin to lessen or block a feeling of pain.
skin test
(skin test)
A test for an immune response to a compound by placing it on or under the skin.
skin vesicle
(… VEH-sih-kul)
A fluid-filled sac in the outer layer of skin. It can be caused by rubbing, heat, or diseases of the skin. Also called blister.
skinning vulvectomy
(SKIH-ning vul-VEK-toh-mee)
Surgery to remove the top layer of skin of the vulva (the external female genital organs, including the clitoris, vaginal lips, and the opening to the vagina). A skin graft may be used to replace the skin that was removed.
skull
(skul)
The bones that form the head. The skull is made up of cranial bones (bones that surround and protect the brain) and facial bones (bones that form the eye sockets, nose, cheeks, jaw, and other parts of the face). An opening at the base of the skull is where the spinal cord connects to the brain. Also called cranium.
SL-11047
A substance that is being studied in the treatment of lymphoma. It belongs to the family of drugs called polyamine analogs.
SLE
A chronic, inflammatory, connective tissue disease that can affect many organs including the joints, skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, and nervous system. It is marked by many different symptoms; however, not everyone with SLE has all of the symptoms. Also called lupus and systemic lupus erythematosus.
sleep apnea
(… AP-nee-uh)
A sleep disorder that is marked by pauses in breathing of 10 seconds or more during sleep, and causes unrestful sleep. Symptoms include loud or abnormal snoring, daytime sleepiness, irritability, and depression.
sleep disorder
(sleep dis-OR-der)
A disturbance of normal sleep patterns. There are a number of sleep disorders that range from trouble falling asleep, to nightmares, sleepwalking, and sleep apnea (problems with breathing that cause loud snoring). Poor sleep may also be caused by diseases such as heart disease, lung disease, or nerve disorders.
sleep stage
(sleep stayj)
One of 5 parts or stages of the sleep cycle based on the type of brain activity that occurs during the stage. During stages 1 to 4, a person will feel drowsy, fall asleep, and move into a deep, dreamless sleep. Stage 5 is called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and it is during this stage that dreams occur. During several hours of normal sleep, a person will go through several sleep cycles that include REM sleep and the 4 stages of non-REM sleep (light to deep sleep).
sleeve lobectomy
(...loh-BEK-toh-mee)
Surgery to remove a lung tumor in a lobe of the lung and a part of the main bronchus (airway). The ends of the bronchus are rejoined and any remaining lobes are reattached to the bronchus. This surgery is done to save part of the lung. Also called sleeve resection.
sleeve resection
(...ree-SEK-shun)
Surgery to remove a lung tumor in a lobe of the lung and a part of the main bronchus (airway). The ends of the bronchus are rejoined and any remaining lobes are reattached to the bronchus. This surgery is done to save part of the lung. Also called sleeve lobectomy.
slippery elm
(SLIH-puh-ree elm)
The inner bark of this plant has been used in some cultures to treat certain medical problems. It may have antioxidant effects. Also called gray elm, Indian elm, red elm, sweet elm, Ulmus fulva, and Ulmus rubra.
slit-lamp biomicroscopy
(… BY-oh-my-KROS-koh-pee)
An eye exam using an instrument that combines a low-power microscope with a light source that makes a narrow beam of light. The instrument may be used to examine the retina, optic nerve, and other parts of the eye. Also called slit-lamp eye exam.
slit-lamp eye exam
(... I eg-ZAM)
An eye exam using an instrument that combines a low-power microscope with a light source that makes a narrow beam of light. The instrument may be used to examine the retina, optic nerve, and other parts of the eye. Also called slit-lamp biomicroscopy.
SLL
An indolent (slow-growing) type of lymphoma in which too many immature lymphocytes (white blood cells) are found mostly in the lymph nodes. This causes the lymph nodes to become larger than normal. Sometimes cancer cells are found in the blood and bone marrow, and the disease is called chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The disease is most often seen in people older than 50 years. SLL is a type of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Also called small lymphocytic lymphoma and well-differentiated lymphocytic lymphoma.
small cell lung cancer
(... sel lung KAN-ser)
An aggressive (fast-growing) cancer that forms in tissues of the lung and can spread to other parts of the body. The cancer cells look small and oval-shaped when looked at under a microscope.
small intestine
(... in-TES-tin)
A long tube-like organ that connects the stomach and the large intestine. It is about 20 feet long and folds many times to fit inside the abdomen. The small intestine has three parts: the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. It helps to further digest food coming from the stomach. It absorbs nutrients (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins) and water from food so they can be used by the body. The small intestine is part of the digestive system.
small intestine cancer
(... in-TES-tin KAN-ser)
A rare cancer that forms in tissues of the small intestine (the part of the digestive tract between the stomach and the large intestine). The most common type is adenocarcinoma (cancer that begins in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids). Other types of small intestine cancer include sarcoma (cancer that begins in connective or supportive tissue), carcinoid tumor (a slow-growing type of cancer), gastrointestinal stromal tumor (a type of soft tissue sarcoma), and lymphoma (cancer that begins in immune system cells).
small lymphocytic lymphoma
(... LIM-foh-SIH-tik lim-FOH-muh)
An indolent (slow-growing) type of lymphoma in which too many immature lymphocytes (white blood cells) are found mostly in the lymph nodes. This causes the lymph nodes to become larger than normal. Sometimes cancer cells are found in the blood and bone marrow, and the disease is called chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The disease is most often seen in people older than 50 years. Small lymphocytic lymphoma is a type of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Also called SLL and well-differentiated lymphocytic lymphoma.
small-molecule drug
(… MAH-leh-kyool ...)
A substance that is able to enter cells easily because it has a low molecular weight. Once inside the cells, it can affect other molecules, such as proteins, and may cause cancer cells to die. This is different from drugs that have a large molecular weight, such as monoclonal antibodies, which are not able to get inside cells very easily. Many targeted therapies are small-molecule drugs or small molecule inhibitors.
smokeless tobacco
(SMOKE-les tuh-BA-koh)
A type of tobacco that is not smoked or burned. It may be used as chewing tobacco or moist snuff, or inhaled through the nose as dry snuff. Smokeless tobacco contains nicotine and many harmful, cancer-causing chemicals. Using it can lead to nicotine addiction and can cause cancers of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas. It may also cause heart disease, gum disease, and other health problems.
smoking cessation
(SMOH-king seh-SAY-shun)
To quit smoking. Smoking cessation lowers the risk of cancer and other serious health problems. Counseling, behavior therapy, medicines, and nicotine-containing products, such as nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers, and nasal sprays, may be used to help a person quit smoking.
smoldering myeloma
(SMOLE-der-ing MY-eh-LOH-muh)
A very slow-growing type of myeloma in which abnormal plasma cells (a type of white blood cell) make too much of a single type of monoclonal antibody (a protein). This protein builds up in the blood or is passed in the urine. Patients with smoldering myeloma usually have no symptoms, but need to be checked often for signs of progression to fully developed multiple myeloma.
SN-38 liposome
(... LY-poh-some)
A form of the anticancer drug irinotecan that is contained in very tiny, fat-like particles. It may have fewer side effects and work better than irinotecan alone. SN-38 liposome is being studied in the treatment of advanced colorectal cancer and other types of cancer. SN-38 liposome blocks the ability of cells to divide and grow. It may stop the growth of tumor cells. It is a type of topoisomerase inhibitor and a type of irinotecan (CPT-11) derivative. Also called liposomal SN-38.
SNDX-275
A substance being studied in the treatment of several types of cancer. It blocks enzymes needed for cell division and may kill cancer cells. It is a type of histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor. Also called entinostat and HDAC inhibitor SNDX-275.
SnET2
An anticancer drug that is also used in cancer prevention. It belongs to the family of drugs called photosensitizing agents. Also called tin ethyl etiopurpurin.
SNP
(snip)
The most common type of change in DNA (molecules inside cells that carry genetic information). SNPs occur when a single nucleotide (building block of DNA) is replaced with another. These changes may cause disease, and may affect how a person reacts to bacteria, viruses, drugs, and other substances. Also called single nucleotide polymorphism.
SNRI
A type of drug that is used to treat depression and certain other disorders. SNRIs increase the levels of the chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Nerves use these chemicals to send messages to one another. Increasing their levels in the brain helps improve mood. Also called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor.
snuff tobacco
(… tuh-BA-koh)
A type of smokeless tobacco that is made of finely ground or shredded tobacco leaves. It may have different scents and flavors and may be moist or dry. Moist snuff tobacco is placed in the mouth, usually between the cheek and gum or behind the upper or lower lip. Dry snuff tobacco is inhaled through the nose. Snuff tobacco contains nicotine and many harmful, cancer-causing chemicals. Using it can lead to nicotine addiction and can cause cancers of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas. Snuff tobacco use may also cause gum disease, heart disease, stroke, and other health problems. Using snuff tobacco is also called “dipping.”
SNX 111
A drug used in the treatment of chronic pain. Also called Prialt and ziconotide.
SNX-5422
A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. SNX-5422 blocks a protein needed for cells to grow and may kill cancer cells. It is a type of heat shock protein 90 inhibitor.
SNX-5422 mesylate
(…MEH-zih-layt)
A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. SNX-5422 mesylate blocks a protein needed for cells to grow and may kill cancer cells. It is a type of heat shock protein 90 inhibitor.
soblidotin
(soh-blih-DOH-tin)
A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is a type of tubulin inhibitor. Also called TZT-1027.
social service
(SOH-shul SER-vis)
A community resource that helps people in need. Services may include help getting to and from medical appointments, home delivery of medication and meals, in-home nursing care, help paying medical costs not covered by insurance, loaning medical equipment, and housekeeping help.
social support
(SOH-shul suh-PORT)
A network of family, friends, neighbors, and community members that is available in times of need to give psychological, physical, and financial help.
social worker
(SOH-shul WUR-ker)
A professional trained to talk with people and their families about emotional or physical needs, and to find them support services.
SOD1 inhibitor ATN-224
(... in-HIH-bih-ter ...)
A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. It may prevent the growth of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow. SOD1 inhibitor ATN-224 also blocks enzymes that cells need to divide and grow, and it may kill cancer cells. It is a type of antiangiogenesis agent and a type of superoxide dismutase inhibitor. Also called ATN-224.
sodium
(SOH-dee-um)
A mineral needed by the body to keep body fluids in balance. Sodium is found in table salt and in many processed foods. Too much sodium can cause the body to retain water.
sodium borocaptate
(SOH-dee-um BORE-oh-KAP-tayt)
A substance used in a type of radiation therapy called boron neutron capture therapy. Sodium borocaptate is injected into a vein and becomes concentrated in tumor cells. The patient then receives radiation treatment with atomic particles called neutrons. The neutrons react with the boron in sodium borocaptate and make radioactive particles that kill the tumor cells without harming normal cells. Also called BSH.
sodium ferric gluconate
(SOH-dee-um FAYR-ik GLOO-koh-nayt)
A form of the mineral iron that is used to treat anemia caused by low amounts of iron in the blood. Anemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells is below normal. Sodium ferric gluconate is a type of hematinic and a dietary supplement. Also called Ferrlecit.
sodium salicylate
(SOH-dee-um suh-LIH-sih-LAYT)
A drug that is a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Sodium salicylate may be tolerated by people who are sensitive to aspirin.
sodium stibogluconate
(SOH-dee-um stih-boh-GLOO-koh-nayt)
A substance being studied in the treatment of certain solid tumors, lymphoma, and myeloma. Sodium stibogluconate may block enzymes needed for cancer growth. It is a type of pentavalent antimonial. Also called SSG.
sodium sulfite
(SOH-dee-um SUL-fite)
A chemical used in photography, paper making, water treatment, and for other purposes.
sodium thiosulfate
(SOH-dee-um THY-oh-SUL-fayt)
A substance that is used in medicine as an antidote to cyanide poisoning and to decrease side effects of the anticancer drug cisplatin.
soft diet
(soft DY-et)
A diet consisting of bland foods that are softened by cooking, mashing, pureeing, or blending.
soft palate
(... PAL-et)
The back, muscular (not bony) part of the roof of the mouth.
soft tissue
(... TIH-shoo)
Refers to muscle, fat, fibrous tissue, blood vessels, or other supporting tissue of the body.
soft tissue sarcoma
(…TIH-shoo sar-KOH-muh)
A cancer that begins in the muscle, fat, fibrous tissue, blood vessels, or other supporting tissue of the body.
solar keratosis
(SOH-ler KAYR-uh-TOH-sis)
A thick, scaly patch of skin that may become cancer. It usually forms on areas exposed to the sun, such as the face, scalp, back of the hands, or chest. It is most common in people with fair skin. Also called actinic keratosis and senile keratosis.
solid tumor
(SAH-lid TOO-mer)
An abnormal mass of tissue that usually does not contain cysts or liquid areas. Solid tumors may be benign (not cancer), or malignant (cancer). Different types of solid tumors are named for the type of cells that form them. Examples of solid tumors are sarcomas, carcinomas, and lymphomas. Leukemias (cancers of the blood) generally do not form solid tumors.
Soliris
(soh-LAYR-is)
A drug used to prevent red blood cells from being destroyed in patients with a rare red blood cell disorder called paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH). It is also used to treat another rare disorder called atypical hemolytic urea syndrome (aHUS), in which blood clots form in small blood vessels. Soliris binds to an immune system protein called C5. This helps keep red blood cells from breaking down and helps keep blood clots from forming. Soliris is a type of monoclonal antibody. Also called eculizumab.
soluble
(SOL-yoo-bul)
Able to be dissolved in a liquid.
solvent
(SOL-vent)
A liquid that is able to dissolve a solid.
somatic
(soh-MA-tik)
Having to do with the body.
somatic cell
(soh-MA-tik ...)
Any of the body cells except the reproductive (germ) cells.
somatic mutation
(soh-MA-tik myoo-TAY-shun)
An alteration in DNA that occurs after conception. Somatic mutations can occur in any of the cells of the body except the germ cells (sperm and egg) and therefore are not passed on to children. These alterations can (but do not always) cause cancer or other diseases.
somatomedin
(SOH-muh-toh-MEE-din)
A protein made by the body that stimulates the growth of many types of cells. Somatomedin is similar to insulin (a hormone made in the pancreas). There are two forms of somatomedin called IGF-1 and IGF-2. Higher than normal levels of IGF-1 may increase the risk of several types of cancer. Somatomedin is a type of growth factor and a type of cytokine. Also called IGF and insulin-like growth factor.
somatostatin receptor scintigraphy
(soh-MA-toh-STA-tin reh-SEP-ter sin-TIH-gruh-fee)
A type of radionuclide scan used to find carcinoid and other types of tumors. Radioactive octreotide, a drug similar to somatostatin, is injected into a vein and travels through the bloodstream. The radioactive octreotide attaches to tumor cells that have receptors for somatostatin. A radiation-measuring device detects the radioactive octreotide, and makes pictures showing where the tumor cells are in the body. Also called octreotide scan and SRS.
somatotropin
(soh-MA-toh-TROH-pin)
A protein made by the pituitary gland that helps control body growth and the use of glucose and fat in the body. Also called growth hormone.
Somatuline Depot
(soh-MA-too-leen DEE-poh)
A drug used to treat gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors that are advanced or have spread to other parts of the body. These tumors form in the stomach, small and large intestines, rectum, and pancreas. Somatuline Depot is used for tumors that cannot be removed by surgery. It is also used to treat some patients with acromegaly (a condition in which the pituitary gland makes too much growth hormone). Somatuline Depot is like somatostatin (a hormone made by the body), and may help stop the body from making extra amounts of certain hormones, including growth hormone, insulin, glucagon, and hormones that affect digestion. It may also help keep certain types of tumor cells from growing. Somatuline Depot is a type of somatostatin analog. Also called lanreotide acetate.
somnolence syndrome
(SOM-noh-lens SIN-drome)
Periods of drowsiness, lethargy, loss of appetite, and irritability in children following radiation therapy treatments to the head.
sonidegib
(soh-NIH-deh-gib)
A drug used to treat locally advanced basal cell carcinoma (BCC) that has come back after surgery or radiation therapy. It is also used in patients who cannot be treated with surgery or radiation therapy. Sonidegib is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Sonidegib blocks a type of protein involved in tissue growth and repair and may block the growth of cancer cells. It is a type of hedgehog signaling pathway antagonist. Also called erismodegib, LDE225, and Odomzo.
sonogram
(SAH-noh-gram)
A computer picture of areas inside the body created by high-energy sound waves. The sound waves are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of the body tissues on a computer screen. A sonogram may be used to help diagnose disease, such as cancer. It may also be used during pregnancy to check the fetus (unborn baby) and during medical procedures, such as biopsies. Also called ultrasonogram.
SOP
Written instructions for doing a specific task in a certain way. In clinical trials, SOPs are set up to store records, collect data, screen and enroll subjects, and submit Institutional Review Board (IRB) applications and renewals. Also called Standard Operating Procedure.
sorafenib tosylate
(sor-A-feh-nib TOH-suh-layt)
A drug used to treat advanced kidney cancer and a type of liver cancer that cannot be removed by surgery. It is also used to treat a type of advanced thyroid cancer that did not get better with radioactive iodine treatment. It is being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Sorafenib tosylate stops cancer cells from dividing and may prevent the growth of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow. It is a type of kinase inhibitor and a type of antiangiogenesis agent. Also called BAY 43-9006 and Nexavar.
sorivudine
(sor-IH-vyoo-deen)
An antiviral drug that is being studied as a treatment for herpesvirus. It belongs to the family of drugs called nucleic acid synthesis inhibitors.
sorrel
(SOR-ul)
A plant that has been used in some cultures to treat certain medical problems. It may have anticancer effects. The scientific name is Rumex acetosella. Also called dock and sheep sorrel.
soy
(soy)
A product from a plant of Asian origin that produces beans used in many food products. Soy contains isoflavones (estrogen-like substances) that are being studied for the prevention of cancer, hot flashes that occur with menopause, and osteoporosis (loss of bone density). Soy in the diet may lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Also called Glycine max, soya, and soybean.
soya
(SOY-uh)
A product from a plant of Asian origin that produces beans used in many food products. Soya contains isoflavones (estrogen-like substances) that are being studied for the prevention of cancer, hot flashes that occur with menopause, and osteoporosis (loss of bone density). Soya in the diet may lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Also called Glycine max, soy, and soybean.
soybean
(SOY-been)
A product from a plant of Asian origin that produces beans used in many food products. Soybean contains isoflavones (estrogen-like substances) that are being studied for the prevention of cancer, hot flashes that occur with menopause, and osteoporosis (loss of bone density). Soybean in the diet may lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Also called Glycine max, soy, and soya.
spasm
(SPA-zum)
A sudden contraction of a muscle or group of muscles, such as a cramp.
spastic colon
(SPAS-tik KOH-lun)
A disorder of the intestines commonly marked by abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in a person’s bowel habits. This may include diarrhea or constipation, or both, with one occurring after the other. Also called IBS, irritable bowel syndrome, irritable colon, and mucus colitis.
specialist
(SPEH-shuh-list)
In medicine, a doctor or other health care professional who is trained and licensed in a special area of practice. Examples of medical specialists include oncologists (cancer specialists) and hematologists (blood specialists).
specific immune cell
(speh-SIH-fik ih-MYOON sel)
An immune cell such as a T or B lymphocyte that responds to a single, specific antigen.
specificity
(SPEH-sih-FIH-sih-tee)
When referring to a medical test, specificity refers to the percentage of people who test negative for a specific disease among a group of people who do not have the disease. No test is 100% specific because some people who do not have the disease will test positive for it (false positive).
SPECT
A special type of computed tomography (CT) scan in which a small amount of a radioactive drug is injected into a vein and a scanner is used to make detailed images of areas inside the body where the radioactive material is taken up by the cells. SPECT can give information about blood flow to tissues and chemical reactions (metabolism) in the body. Also called single-photon emission computed tomography.
spectroscopy
(spek-TROS-koh-pee)
The study of the amount of light that is taken up, given off, or scattered (reflected) by an object. Spectroscopy breaks down light and measures different wavelengths of visible and non-visible light. In medicine, different types of spectroscopy are being used to study tissues and to help make a diagnosis.
speculum
(SPEK-yoo-lum)
An instrument used to widen an opening of the body to make it easier to look inside.
speech pathologist
(... puh-THAH-loh-jist)
A specialist who evaluates and treats people with communication and swallowing problems. Also called speech therapist.
speech therapist
(speech THAYR-uh-pist)
A specialist who evaluates and treats people with communication and swallowing problems. Also called speech pathologist.
sperm
(spurm)
The male reproductive cell, formed in the testicle. A sperm unites with an egg to form an embryo.
sperm banking
(spurm...)
The process of freezing sperm and storing it for future use. Samples of semen are collected and checked under a microscope in the laboratory to count sperm cells and find out how healthy they are. The sperm cells are then frozen and stored. Sperm banking is often used for men who want to have children after having treatment that may cause infertility, such as certain cancer treatments. Sperm banking is a type of fertility preservation. Also called sperm cryopreservation.
sperm count
(spurm kownt)
A count of the number of sperm in a sample of semen. A sperm count may be used as a measure of fertility.
sperm cryopreservation
(… KRY-oh-PREH-zer-VAY-shun)
The process of freezing sperm and storing it for future use. Samples of semen are collected and checked under a microscope in the laboratory to count sperm cells and find out how healthy they are. The sperm cells are then frozen and stored. Sperm cryopreservation is often used for men who want to have children after having treatment that may cause infertility, such as certain cancer treatments. Sperm cryopreservation is a type of fertility preservation. Also called sperm banking.
sperm retrieval
(spurm reh-TREE-vul)
Removal of sperm from a man's testis or epididymis by a doctor using a fine needle or other instrument.
spermatic cord
(sper-MA-tik kord)
A cord-like structure in the male reproductive system that contains nerves, blood and lymph vessels, and the vas deferens (a coiled tube that carries sperm out of the testicle). It runs from the abdomen to the testicle, and connects to the testicle in the scrotum (external sac). Also called testicular cord.
spermicide
(SPER-mih-side)
A chemical substance that kills sperm and is used as a type of birth control. It is available over-the-counter (without a doctor’s order) and comes in many different forms such as cream, gel, foam, and suppository. Spermicides can be used alone or with another birth control method such as a condom or diaphragm. They do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
SPF
A scale for rating the level of sunburn protection in sunscreen products. The higher the SPF, the more sunburn protection it gives. Sunscreens with a value of 2 through 11 give minimal protection against sunburns. Sunscreens with a value of 12 through 29 give moderate protection. SPFs of 30 or higher give high protection against sunburn. Also called sun protection factor.
S-phase fraction
(... fayz FRAK-shun)
A measure of the percentage of cells in a tumor that are in the phase of the cell cycle during which DNA is synthesized. The S-phase fraction may be used with the proliferative index to give a more complete understanding of how fast a tumor is growing.
sphenoid sinus
(SFEE-noyd SY-nus)
A type of paranasal sinus (a hollow space in the bones around the nose). There are two large sphenoid sinuses in the sphenoid bone, which is behind the nose between the eyes. The sphenoid sinuses are lined with cells that make mucus to keep the nose from drying out.
sphincter
(SFINK-ter)
A ring-shaped muscle that relaxes or tightens to open or close a passage or opening in the body. Examples are the anal sphincter (around the opening of the anus) and the pyloric sphincter (at the lower opening of the stomach).
spiculated mass
(SPIH-kyoo-LAY-ted …)
A lump of tissue with spikes or points on the surface.
spinal anesthesia
(SPY-nul A-nes-THEE-zhuh)
A temporary loss of feeling in the abdomen and/or the lower part of the body. Special drugs called anesthetics are injected into the fluid in the lower part of the spinal column to cause the loss of feeling. The patient stays awake during the procedure. It is a type of regional anesthesia. Also called SAB, spinal block, and subarachnoid block.
spinal block
(SPY-nul blok)
A temporary loss of feeling in the abdomen and/or the lower part of the body. Special drugs called anesthetics are injected into the fluid in the lower part of the spinal column to cause the loss of feeling. The patient stays awake during the procedure. It is a type of regional anesthesia. Also called SAB, spinal anesthesia, and subarachnoid block.
spinal canal
(SPY-nul kuh-NAL)
The narrow, fluid-filled space in the spinal column (the bones, muscles, tendons, and other tissues that reach from the base of the skull to the tailbone). The spinal cord runs through the spinal canal.
spinal column
(SPY-nul KAH-lum)
The bones, muscles, tendons, and other tissues that reach from the base of the skull to the tailbone. The spinal column encloses the spinal cord and the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. Also called backbone, spine, and vertebral column.
spinal cord
(SPY-nul kord)
A column of nerve tissue that runs from the base of the skull down the center of the back. It is covered by three thin layers of protective tissue called membranes. The spinal cord and membranes are surrounded by the vertebrae (back bones). The spinal cord and the brain make up the central nervous system (CNS). Spinal cord nerves carry messages between the brain and the rest of the body.
spinal cord compression
(SPY-nul kord kum-PREH-shun)
Pressure on the spinal cord that may be caused by a tumor, a spinal fracture, or other conditions. Spinal cord compression may cause pain, weakness, loss of feeling, paralysis, incontinence (inability to control urine or stool), or impotence (inability to have an erection of the penis).
spinal tap
(SPY-nul ...)
A procedure in which a thin needle called a spinal needle is put into the lower part of the spinal column to collect cerebrospinal fluid or to give drugs. Also called lumbar puncture.
spindle cell sarcoma
(SPIN-dul sel sar-KOH-muh)
A type of sarcoma that contains spindle cells. Under a microscope, spindle cells look long and slender. Sarcomas are cancers that begin in muscle, fat, fibrous tissue, or other connective or supportive tissue in the body. Spindle cell sarcomas usually occur in adults.
spindle cell tumor
(SPIN-dul sel TOO-mer)
A type of tumor that contains cells called spindle cells, based on their shape. Under a microscope, spindle cells look long and slender. Spindle cell tumors may be sarcomas or carcinomas.
spine
(spine)
The bones, muscles, tendons, and other tissues that reach from the base of the skull to the tailbone. The spine encloses the spinal cord and the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. Also called backbone, spinal column, and vertebral column.
spine cancer
(... KAN-ser)
Cancer that begins in the spinal column (backbone) or spinal cord. The spinal column is made up of linked bones, called vertebrae. The spinal cord is a column of nerve tissue that runs from the base of the skull down the back. It is surrounded by three protective membranes, and is enclosed within the vertebrae. Many different types of cancer may form in the bones, tissues, fluid, or nerves of the spine.
spiral CT scan
(SPY-rul … skan)
A procedure that uses a computer linked to an x-ray machine to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The x-ray machine scans the body in a spiral path. This allows more images to be made in a shorter time than with older CT methods. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly on the x-ray. Spiral CT scan also creates more detailed pictures and may be better at finding small abnormal areas inside the body. It may be used to help diagnose disease, plan treatment, or find out how well treatment is working. Also called helical computed tomography.
spirituality
(SPEER-ih-choo-A-lih-tee)
Having to do with deep, often religious, feelings and beliefs, including a person’s sense of peace, purpose, connection to others, and beliefs about the meaning of life.
spit tobacco
(… tuh-BA-koh)
A type of smokeless tobacco made from cured tobacco leaves. It may be sweetened and flavored with licorice and other substances. It comes in the form of loose tobacco leaves, pellets or “bits” (leaf tobacco rolled into small pellets), plugs (leaf tobacco pressed and held together with some type of sweetener), or twists (leaf tobacco rolled into rope-like strands and twisted). It is placed in the mouth, usually between the cheek and lower lip, and may be chewed. Spit tobacco contains nicotine and many harmful, cancer-causing chemicals. Using it can lead to nicotine addiction and can cause cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and pancreas. Spit tobacco use may also cause gum disease, heart disease, stroke, and other health problems. Also called chewing tobacco.
spleen
(spleen)
An organ that is part of the lymphatic system. The spleen makes lymphocytes, filters the blood, stores blood cells, and destroys old blood cells. It is located on the left side of the abdomen near the stomach.
splenectomy
(spleh-NEK-toh-mee)
An operation to remove the spleen.
splenic
(SPLEH-nik)
Having to do with the spleen (an organ in the abdomen that makes immune cells, filters the blood, stores blood cells, and destroys old blood cells).
splenomegaly
(SPLEH-noh-MEH-guh-lee)
Enlarged spleen.
sporadic cancer
(spuh-RA-dik KAN-ser)
Cancer that occurs in people who do not have a family history of that cancer or an inherited change in their DNA that would increase their risk for that cancer.
spotted thistle
(... THIH-sul)
A plant whose leaves, stems, and flowers have been used in some cultures to treat certain medical problems. Spotted thistle may have anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects. The scientific name is Cnicus benedictus. Also called blessed thistle, cardin, holy thistle, and St. Benedict's thistle.
Sprycel
(SPRY-sel)
A drug used to treat certain types of chronic myeloid leukemia and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Sprycel is also being studied in the treatment of certain other blood diseases and types of cancer. Sprycel binds to and blocks BCR-ABL and other proteins that help cancer cells grow. It is a type of tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Also called BMS-354825 and dasatinib.
sputum
(SPYOO-tum)
Mucus and other matter brought up from the lungs by coughing.
sputum cytology
(SPYOO-tum sy-TAH-loh-jee)
Examination under a microscope of cells found in sputum (mucus and other matter brought up from the lungs by coughing). The test checks for abnormal cells, such as lung cancer cells.
squalamine lactate
(SKWAH-luh-meen LAK-tayt)
A drug that belongs to the family of drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors. It prevents the growth of new blood vessels into a solid tumor.
squamous cell
(SKWAY-mus sel)
Flat cell that looks like a fish scale under a microscope. These cells are found in the tissues that form the surface of the skin, the passages of the respiratory and digestive tracts, and the lining of the hollow organs of the body (such as the bladder, kidney, and uterus, including the cervix).
squamous cell carcinoma
(SKWAY-mus sel KAR-sih-NOH-muh)
Cancer that begins in squamous cells. Squamous cells are thin, flat cells that look like fish scales, and are found in the tissue that forms the surface of the skin, the lining of the hollow organs of the body, and the lining of the respiratory and digestive tracts. Most cancers of the anus, cervix, head and neck, and vagina are squamous cell carcinomas. Also called epidermoid carcinoma.
squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck
(SKWAY-mus sel KAR-sih-NOH-muh …)
Cancer of the head and neck that begins in squamous cells (thin, flat cells that form the surface of the skin, eyes, various internal organs, and the lining of hollow organs and ducts of some glands). Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck includes cancers of the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, salivary glands, throat, and larynx (voice box). Most head and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.
squamous intraepithelial lesion
(SKWAY-mus IN-truh-eh-pih-THEE-lee-ul LEE-zhun)
A general term for the abnormal growth of squamous cells on the surface of the cervix. The changes in the cells are described as low grade or high grade, depending on how much of the cervix is affected and how abnormal the cells appear. Also called SIL.
SR-29142
A drug that may protect healthy tissue from the toxic effects of anticancer drugs.
SR-45023A
An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called bisphosphonates. It affects cancer cell receptors governing cell growth and cell death.
SR49059
A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. It inhibits a hormone growth factor that causes some cancer cells to divide. It is a type of vasopressin receptor antagonist.
SRS
A type of radionuclide scan used to find carcinoid and other types of tumors. Radioactive octreotide, a drug similar to somatostatin, is injected into a vein and travels through the bloodstream. The radioactive octreotide attaches to tumor cells that have receptors for somatostatin. A radiation-measuring device detects the radioactive octreotide, and makes pictures showing where the tumor cells are in the body. Also called octreotide scan and somatostatin receptor scintigraphy.