glossary

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

This cancer definition glossary is adapted from the National Cancer Institute online glossary.


D

D&C
Dilation and curettage. A procedure to remove tissue from the cervical canal or the inner lining of the uterus. The cervix is dilated (made larger) and a curette (spoon-shaped instrument) is inserted into the uterus to remove tissue. Also called dilation and curettage and dilatation and curettage.

D-20761
A synthetic luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LH-RH) antagonist that suppresses LH and sex steroid levels.

D-cycloserine (...SY-kloh-SER-een)
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. D-cycloserine is a type of antibiotic. Also called Seromycin.

da-huang
Rheum palmatum or Rheum officinale. The root of this plant has been used in some cultures to treat certain medical problems. It may have anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects. Also called rhubarb, Chinese rhubarb, Indian rhubarb, and Turkish rhubarb.

DACA
Acridine carboxamide. A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is a type of topoisomerase inhibitor. Also called acridine carboxamide.

dacarbazine
An anticancer drug that is a type of alkylating agent.

dacliximab
A monoclonal antibody that is being studied in the treatment of adult T-cell leukemia and in the treatment of cytopenia (low blood cell count). Also called daclizumab.

daclizumab
A monoclonal antibody that is being studied in the treatment of adult T-cell leukemia and in the treatment of cytopenia (low blood cell count). Also called dacliximab.

Dacogen (DA-koh-jen)
A drug that is used to treat myelodysplastic syndromes and is being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. It is a type of antimetabolite. Also called decitabine.

dactinomycin
An anticancer drug that is a type of antitumor antibiotic.

daidzein
An isoflavone found in soy products. Soy isoflavones are being studied in the prevention of cancer.

dalteparin
A drug that helps prevent the formation of blood clots; it belongs to the family of drugs called anticoagulants.

danazol
A synthetic hormone that is a type of androgen and is used to treat endometriosis. It is being evaluated in the treatment of endometrial cancer.

daptomycin (dap-toh-MY-sin)
A drug used to treat certain bacterial skin and bloodstream infections in adults. Daptomycin is also being studied in the treatment of fever and neutropenia (an abnormal decrease in the number of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell) in patients with cancer. It is a type of antibiotic. Also called Cubicin.

darbepoetin alfa (dar-be-POE-e-tin AL-fa)
A substance made in the laboratory that stimulates the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. It belongs to the family of drugs called antianemics.

dark-field microscope
A microscope (device used to magnify small objects) in which objects are lit at a very low angle from the side so that the background appears dark and the objects show up against this dark background.

dasatinib (da-SA-tih-nib)
A drug used to treat certain types of chronic myeloid leukemia and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Dasatinib is also being studied in the treatment of certain other blood diseases and types of cancer. Dasatinib 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 Sprycel.

Data and Safety Monitoring Board
DSMB. An impartial group that oversees a clinical trial and reviews the results to see if they are acceptable. This group determines if the trial should be changed or closed. Also called DSMB.

daunorubicin (DAW-noh-ROO-bih-sin)
An anticancer drug that is a type of antitumor antibiotic and anthracycline.

DCIS
Ductal carcinoma in situ. A noninvasive condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct. The abnormal cells have not spread outside the duct to other tissues in the breast. In some cases, DCIS may become invasive cancer and spread to other tissues, although it is not known at this time how to predict which lesions will become invasive. Also called ductal carcinoma in situ and intraductal carcinoma.

DDS
A rare disorder that causes kidney failure before age 3, abnormal development of the sexual organs, and, in most cases, Wilms tumor (a type of kidney cancer). Children with Denys-Drash syndrome are also at high risk of some other types of cancer. Also called Denys-Drash syndrome.

de novo (dih NO-vo)
In cancer, the first occurrence of cancer in the body.

de qi sensation (duh-CHEE sen-SAY-shun)
Tingling, numbness, heaviness, and other feelings that occur after an acupuncture needle has been properly placed in the body. The needle may be twirled, moved up and down at different speeds and depths, heated, or charged with a small electric current until the de qi sensation occurs.

death cap
Amanita phalloides. A type of poisonous mushroom that has harmful effects on the kidneys and liver. It is responsible for most fatal cases of mushroom poisoning. Also called Amanita phalloides.

debulking (dee-BUL-king)
Surgical removal of as much of a tumor as possible. Debulking may increase the chance that chemotherapy or radiation therapy will kill all the tumor cells. It may also be done to relieve symptoms or help the patient live longer. Also called tumor debulking.

deceased (dih-SEEST)
Dead.

decitabine (deh-SIT-uh-been)
A drug that is used to treat myelodysplastic syndromes and is being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. It is a type of antimetabolite. Also called Dacogen.

decortication (de-KOR-tih-KAY-shun)
Removal of part or all of the external surface of an organ.

deferasirox (deh-FER-uh-SEER-ox)
A drug used to treat too much iron in the blood caused by blood transfusions. It is being studied in the treatment of myelodysplastic syndromes (a group of diseases in which the bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells) and other conditions. Deferasirox binds to extra iron in the blood. The drug and the iron are passed from the body in urine. It is a type of chelating agent. Also called Exjade.

deferoxamine
An iron-chelating agent that removes iron from tumors by inhibiting DNA synthesis and causing cancer cell death. It is used in conjunction with other anticancer agents in pediatric neuroblastoma therapy.

defibrotide
A substance that is being studied in the prevention of veno-occlusive disease, a rare complication of high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation in which small veins in the liver become blocked.

deficiency (dih-FIH-shun-see)
In medicine, a shortage of a substance (such as a vitamin or mineral) needed by the body.

degenerative disease (dih-JEH-neh-ruh-tiv dih-ZEEZ)
A disease in which the function or structure of the affected tissues or organs changes for the worse over time. Osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer disease are examples.

dehydration
A condition caused by the loss of too much water from the body. Severe diarrhea or vomiting can cause dehydration.

dehydroepiandrosterone
DHEA. A substance being studied in the prevention of cancer. It is a type of steroid. Also called DHEA.

delayed-type hypersensitivity response (...HY-per-SEN-sih-TIH-vih-tee reh-SPONTS)
DTH. An inflammatory response that develops 24 to 72 hours after exposure to an antigen that the immune system recognizes as foreign. This type of immune response involves mainly T cells rather than antibodies (which are made by B cells).

delirium (deh-LEER-ee-um)
A mental state in which a person is confused, disoriented, and not able to think or remember clearly. The person may also be agitated and have hallucinations, and extreme excitement.

dementia (deh-MEN-shuh)
A condition in which a person loses the ability to think, remember, learn, make decisions, and solve problems. Symptoms may also include personality changes and emotional problems. There are many causes of dementia, including Alzheimer disease, brain cancer, and brain injury. Dementia usually gets worse over time.

Demerol (DEH-meh-ROL)
A morphine-like drug used to relieve medium to severe pain. It is a type of opioid analgesic and may be habit-forming. Also called meperidine.

dendritic cell
A special type of antigen-presenting cell (APC) that activates T lymphocytes.

dendritic cell vaccine
A vaccine made of antigens and dendritic antigen-presenting cells (APCs).

denial (deh-NY-ul)
In psychiatry, a state in which a person is unable or unwilling to see the truth or reality about an issue or situation.

denileukin diftitox (DEN-ih-LOO-kin DIF-tih-tox)
A substance used to treat cutaneous T-cell lymphoma when other treatments have not worked. It is also being studied in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia that has not responded to treatment. It belongs to the family of drugs called biological therapy agents. Also called Ontak.

denomination (deh-NAH-mih-NAY-shun)
In religion, describes a group whose members are organized under a common name and set of rules and have common beliefs and practices.

denosumab (den-oh-SOO-mab)
A type of monoclonal antibody being studied in the treatment of multiple myeloma (a cancer that forms in bones) and in the prevention and treatment of bone metastases (cancer that has spread to bone from another organ). Monoclonal antibodies are made in the laboratory and can locate and bind to substances in the body, including cancer cells. Denosumab binds to the protein RANKL and helps keep bone from breaking down. Also called AMG 162.

dental implant
A metal, root-shaped device that is placed surgically in the jawbone. It acts as an anchor for attaching false teeth (crowns or bridges).

dentist
A health professional who specializes in caring for the teeth, gums, and other tissues in the mouth.

Denys-Drash syndrome
A rare disorder that causes kidney failure before age 3, abnormal development of the sexual organs, and, in most cases, Wilms tumor (a type of kidney cancer). Children with Denys-Drash syndrome are also at high risk of some other types of cancer. Also called DDS.

deoxycytidine
A drug that protects healthy tissues from the toxic effects of anticancer drugs.

deoxyribonucleic acid (dee-OK-see-RY-boh-noo-KLEE-ik A-sid)
DNA. The molecules inside cells that carry genetic information and pass it from one generation to the next. Also called DNA.

Depo-Cyt (DEE-poh-SITE)
A form of the anticancer drug cytarabine that is contained inside very tiny, fat-like particles. It may have fewer side effects and work better than cytarabine. It is used to treat lymphoma that has spread to the meninges (three thin layers of tissue that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord). It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. It is a type of antimetabolite. Also called liposomal cytarabine and cytarabine liposome.

depression (dee-PREH-shun)
A mental condition marked by ongoing feelings of sadness, despair, loss of energy, and difficulty dealing with normal daily life. Other symptoms of depression include feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, loss of pleasure in activities, changes in eating or sleeping habits, and thoughts of death or suicide. Depression can affect anyone, and can be successfully treated. Depression affects 15-25% of cancer patients.

depsipeptide
A substance that is made naturally by some bacteria, fungi, and other organisms, and can also be made in the laboratory. Depsipeptides are being studied in the treatment of cancer.

derivative
In chemistry, a compound produced from or related to another.

dermatitis (DER-muh-TY-tis)
Inflammation of the skin.

dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DER-ma-toe-FI-bro-sar-KO-ma pro-TOO-ber-anz)
A type of tumor that begins as a hard nodule and grows slowly. These tumors are usually found in the dermis (the inner layer of the two main layers of tissue that make up the skin) of the limbs or trunk of the body. They can grow into surrounding tissue but do not spread to other parts of the body. These tumors are related to giant cell fibroblastoma.

dermatologist (der-muh-TAH-loh-jist)
A doctor who has special training to diagnose and treat skin problems.

dermis (DER-mis)
The lower or inner layer of the two main layers of tissue that make up the skin.

dermoid cyst (DER-moyd sist)
A type of benign (noncancerous) germ cell tumor (type of tumor that begins in the cells that give rise to sperm or eggs) that often contains several different types of tissue such as hair, muscle, and bone. Also called a mature teratoma.

DES
Diethylstilbestrol. A synthetic form of the hormone estrogen that was prescribed to pregnant women between about 1940 and 1971 because it was thought to prevent miscarriages. DES may increase the risk of uterine, ovarian, or breast cancer in women who took it. It also has been linked to an increased risk of clear cell carcinoma of the vagina or cervix in daughters exposed to DES before birth. Also called diethylstilbestrol.

deslorelin
A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer as a way to block sex hormones made by the ovaries or testicles. It is a type of gonadotropin-releasing hormone analog.

desmoid tumor
A tumor of the tissue that surrounds muscles, usually in the abdomen. A desmoid tumor rarely metastasizes (spreads to other parts of the body). It may be called aggressive fibromatosis when the tumor is outside of the abdomen.

desmoplastic
Causing or forming adhesions or fibrous connective tissue within a tumor.

desmoplastic melanoma
A rare form of malignant melanoma marked by nonpigmented lesions on sun-exposed areas of the body, most commonly on the head and neck.

desmoplastic small round cell tumor (dez-mo-PLAS-tik...)
A rare, aggressive cancer that usually affects young males and usually is located in the abdomen.

detoxify (dee-TOX-ih-fy)
To make something less poisonous or harmful. It may refer to the process of removing toxins, poisons, or other harmful substances from the body.

developmental stage (dee-VEH-lup-MEN-tul stayj)
The physical, mental, and emotional stages a child goes through as they grow and mature.

DEXA
An imaging test that measures bone density (the amount of bone mineral contained in a certain volume of bone) by passing x-rays with two different energy levels through the bone. It is used to diagnose osteoporosis (decrease in bone mass and density). Also called DEXA scan, bone mineral density scan, BMD scan, dual energy x-ray absorptiometric scan, dual x-ray absorptiometry, and DXA.

DEXA scan
An imaging test that measures bone density (the amount of bone mineral contained in a certain volume of bone) by passing x-rays with two different energy levels through the bone. It is used to diagnose osteoporosis (decrease in bone mass and density). Also called bone mineral density scan, BMD scan, dual energy x-ray absorptiometric scan, dual x-ray absorptiometry, DXA, and DEXA.

dexamethasone
A synthetic steroid (similar to steroid hormones produced naturally in the adrenal gland). Dexamethasone is used to treat leukemia and lymphoma and may be used to treat some of the problems caused by other cancers and their treatment.

dexmethylphenidate
A substance being studied in the treatment of fatigue and nervous system side effects caused by chemotherapy. It is a type of central nervous system stimulant.

dexrazoxane (DEKS-ruh-ZOK-sane)
A drug used to treat the toxic effects of an anticancer drug that leaks from blood vessels into surrounding tissue and causes tissue damage. It is also used to treat heart damage in women given doxorubicin for breast cancer that has spread. Dexrazoxane blocks a protein needed for cell division. It is a type of chemoprotective agent and a type of cardioprotective agent. Also called dexrazoxane hydrochloride, Totect, and Zinecard.

dexrazoxane hydrochloride (DEKS-ruh-ZOK-sane HY-droh-KLOR-ide)
A drug used to treat the toxic effects of an anticancer drug that leaks from blood vessels into surrounding tissue and causes tissue damage. It is also used to treat heart damage in women given doxorubicin for breast cancer that has spread. Dexrazoxane hydrochloride blocks a protein needed for cell division. It is a type of chemoprotective agent and a type of cardioprotective agent. Also called dexrazoxane, Totect, and Zinecard.

dextroamphetamine-amphetamine
A combination of drugs used as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (a sleep disorder). It is a type of stimulant. Also called Adderall.

dextromethorphan acetic acid (DEK-stroh-meh-THOR-fan uh-SEE-tik A-sid)
An anticancer drug that is a type of angiogenesis inhibitor.

DFMO
Difluoromethylornithine. A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. Also called difluoromethylornithine.

DHA-paclitaxel (...PA-klih-TAK-sil)
A combination of DHA (a natural fatty acid) and paclitaxel (an anticancer drug) being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is a type of mitotic inhibitor.

DHEA
Dehydroepiandrosterone. A substance being studied in the prevention of cancer. It is a type of steroid. Also called dehydroepiandrosterone.

DHPLN
A childhood condition in which abnormal tissue grows on the outer part of one or both kidneys. DHPLN usually develops into Wilms tumor (a type of childhood kidney cancer) if not treated. Also called diffuse hyperplastic perilobar nephroblastomatosis.

di-dgA-RFB4
An anticancer drug that is a combination of a monoclonal antibody (RFB4) and an immunotoxin (dgA).

diabetes (dye-a-BEE-teez)
A disease in which the body does not properly control the amount of sugar in the blood. As a result, the level of sugar in the blood is too high. This disease occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or does not use it properly.

diabetes mellitus (dye-a-BEE-teez MEL-ih-tus)
A group of disorders in which there is a defect in the transfer of glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into cells, leading to abnormally high levels of blood sugar (hyperglycemia).

diagnosis
The process of identifying a disease by the signs and symptoms.

diagnostic mammogram
X-ray of the breasts used to check for breast cancer after a lump or other sign or symptom of breast cancer has been found.

diagnostic procedure
A method used to identify a disease.

diagnostic trial
A research study that evaluates methods of detecting disease.

dialysis (dye-AL-ih-sis)
The process of filtering the blood when the kidneys are not able to cleanse it.

diameter
The length of a straight line that extends from one edge of a tumor or other object, through its center and to the opposite edge. It is usually used to measure the size of round or spherical shapes.

diaphragm (DY-uh-fram)
The thin muscle below the lungs and heart that separates the chest from the abdomen.

diarrhea
Frequent and watery bowel movements.

diathermy (DY-uh-THER-mee)
A procedure in which tissue is heated to destroy abnormal cells. The heat may come from electric currents, microwaves, radio waves, or ultrasound. Diathermy is a type of hyperthermia therapy. Also called electrodiathermy.

diazepam (dy-A-zeh-pam)
A drug used to treat mild to moderate anxiety and tension and to relax muscles. It is a type of benzodiazepine. Also called Valium.

diaziquone
AZQ. An anticancer drug that is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and kill cancer cells in the central nervous system. Also called AZQ.

didanosine
A drug used in the treatment of infections caused by viruses.

DIEP flap
A type of breast reconstruction in which blood vessels called deep inferior epigastric perforators (DIEP), and the skin and fat connected to them are removed from the lower abdomen and used for reconstruction. Muscle is left in place.

diet
The things a person eats and drinks.

dietary protocol (DY-uh-TAYR-ee PROH-tuh-KOL)
A detailed diet plan that states what, how, and when a person will eat and drink. It may be used to test how a specific diet affects a health outcome, such as lower cholesterol.

Dietary Reference Intakes (DY-uh-TAYR-ee REH-feh-rens ...)
DRI. A set of guidelines developed by U.S. and Canadian scientists to give information about the role of nutrients in human health. These guidelines include the Reference Daily Intakes (RDI), which are the recommended amounts of nutrients to be eaten each day to meet the needs of most healthy people. This system replaced the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA). Also called DRI.

dietary supplement (DY-uh-TAYR-ee SUH-pleh-ment)
A product that is added to the diet. A dietary supplement is taken by mouth, and usually contains one or more dietary ingredients (including vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, and enzymes). Also called nutritional supplement.

diethylstilbestrol (dye-EH-thul-stil-BES-trol)
DES. A synthetic form of the hormone estrogen that was prescribed to pregnant women between about 1940 and 1971 because it was thought to prevent miscarriages. DES may increase the risk of uterine, ovarian, or breast cancer in women who took it. DES also has been linked to an increased risk of clear cell carcinoma of the vagina or cervix in daughters exposed to DES before birth. Also called DES.

dietitian (dy-eh-TIH-shun)
A health professional with special training in nutrition who can help with dietary choices. Also called a nutritionist.

differentiation
In cancer, refers to how mature (developed) the cancer cells are in a tumor. Differentiated tumor cells resemble normal cells and tend to grow and spread at a slower rate than undifferentiated or poorly differentiated tumor cells, which lack the structure and function of normal cells and grow uncontrollably.

diffuse
Widely spread; not localized or confined.

diffuse hyperplastic perilobar nephroblastomatosis (dih-FYOOS HY-per-PLAS-tik payr-ee-LOH-ber NEH-froh-blas-TOH-muh-TOH-sis)
A childhood condition in which abnormal tissue grows on the outer part of one or both kidneys. Diffuse hyperplastic perilobar nephroblastomatosis usually develops into Wilms tumor (a type of childhood kidney cancer) if not treated. Also called DHPLN.

diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (lim-FOH-muh)
A type of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (cancer of the immune system) that is usually aggressive (fast-growing). It is the most common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and is marked by rapidly growing tumors in the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, bone marrow, or other organs. Other symptoms include fever, night sweats, and weight loss. There are several subtypes of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

difluoromethylornithine
DFMO. A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. Also called DFMO.

digestion (dy-JES-chun)
The process of breaking down food into substances the body can use for energy, tissue growth, and repair.

digestive system (dy-JES-tiv SIS-tem)
The organs that take in food and turn it into products that the body can use to stay healthy. Waste products the body cannot use leave the body through bowel movements. The digestive system includes the salivary glands, mouth, esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, small and large intestines, and rectum.

digestive tract (dy-JES-tiv)
The organs through which food and liquids pass when they are swallowed, digested, and eliminated. These organs are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, and rectum and anus.

digital mammography (DIH-jih-tul ma-MAH-gruh-fee)
A technique that uses a computer, rather than x-ray film, to record x-ray images of the breast.

digital photography (DIH-jih-tul fuh-TAH-gruh-fee)
A type of photography in which images can be viewed on a computer screen.

digital rectal examination (DIH-jih-tul REK-tul eg-zam-ih-NAY-shun)
DRE. An examination in which a doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel for abnormalities. Also called DRE.

dihematoporphyrin ether (dy-HEE-muh-toh-POR-fih-rin EE-ther)
Used in photodynamic therapy, a drug that is absorbed by tumor cells; when exposed to light, it becomes active and kills the cancer cells.

diindolylmethane (dy-IN-doh-lil-MEH-thayn)
DIM. A substance being studied in the treatment of prostate cancer and in the prevention of cervical cancer. Diindolylmethane is found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale. It is a type of plant indole. Also called DIM.

dilatation and curettage (DIH-luh-TA-shun and KYUR-eh-TAHJ)
D&C. A procedure to remove tissue from the cervical canal or the inner lining of the uterus. The cervix is dilated (made larger) and a curette (spoon-shaped instrument) is inserted into the uterus to remove tissue. Also called D&C and dilation and curettage.

dilate (DYE-late)
To widen or enlarge an opening or hollow structure beyond its usual size, such as the pupil of the eye or a blood vessel.

dilation and curettage (DY-LAY-shun and KYUR-eh-TAHJ)
D&C. A procedure to remove tissue from the cervical canal or the inner lining of the uterus. The cervix is dilated (made larger) and a curette (spoon-shaped instrument) is inserted into the uterus to remove tissue. Also called D&C and dilatation and curettage.

dilator (DYE-lay-tor)
A device used to stretch or enlarge an opening.

dilute (dy-LOOT)
To make something thinner, weaker, less concentrated, or less pure by adding something to it.

DIM
Diindolylmethane. A substance being studied in the treatment of prostate cancer and in the prevention of cervical cancer. DIM is found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale. It is a type of plant indole. Also called diindolylmethane.

dimesna
A drug that belongs to the family of drugs called chemoprotective agents.

dimethyl sulfoxide
A colorless liquid that readily dissolves many chemicals and penetrates animal and plant tissues. It is used in human medicine, veterinary medicine, and pharmaceuticals.

dimethylxanthenone acetic acid (DY-MEH-thil-ZAN-theh-none uh-SEE-tik A-sid)
An anticancer drug that is a type of angiogenesis inhibitor.

diphenhydramine (dy-fen-HY-druh-meen)
A drug used to treat allergies and relieve cough and itching caused by insect bites, sunburn, and poison oak or ivy. It is also used to treat mild Parkinson disease, to prevent and treat motion sickness, to relieve cough and cold symptoms, and as a sleep aid. It is a type of antihistamine.

diphosphonate
A drug used to treat osteoporosis and the bone pain caused by some types of cancer. Also called bisphosphonate.

dipyridamole
A drug that prevents blood cell clumping and enhances the effectiveness of fluorouracil and other chemotherapeutic agents.

direct ophthalmoscopy (… OP-thal-MOS-koh-pee)
An exam of the inside of the back of the eye using an ophthalmoscope (a flashlight-sized instrument with a light source and a set of rotating lenses).

discharge (DIS-charj)
In medicine, a fluid that comes out of the body. Discharge can be normal or a sign of disease. Discharge also means release of a patient from care.

disease progression
Cancer that continues to grow or spread.

disease-free survival
Length of time after treatment during which no cancer is found. Can be reported for an individual patient or for a study population.

disease-specific survival
The percentage of subjects in a study who have survived a particular disease for a defined period of time. Usually reported as time since diagnosis or treatment. In calculating this percentage, only deaths from the disease being studied are counted. Subjects who died from some other cause are not included in the calculation.

disorder (dis-OR-der)
In medicine, a disturbance of normal functioning of the mind or body. Disorders may be caused by genetic factors, disease, or trauma.

disorientation (dis-OR-ee-en-TAY-shun)
A mental state marked by confusion about time, place, or who one is.

disseminate (dih-SEM-ih-NATE)
Scatter or distribute over a large area or range.

distal
In medicine, refers to a part of the body that is farther away from the center of the body than another part. For example, the fingers are distal to the shoulder. The opposite is proximal.

distal pancreatectomy (DIS-tul PAN-kree-uh-TEK-toh-mee)
Removal of the body and tail of the pancreas.

distant cancer
Refers to cancer that has spread from the original (primary) tumor to distant organs or distant lymph nodes. Also known as distant metastasis.

distant metastasis (...meh-TAS-tuh-sis)
Refers to cancer that has spread from the original (primary) tumor to distant organs or distant lymph nodes. Also known as distant cancer.

distraction
In medicine, a pain relief method that takes the patient's attention away from the pain.

distress (dih-STRESS)
Extreme mental or physical pain or suffering.

disulfiram
A drug that slows the metabolism of retinoids, allowing them to act over a longer period of time.

diuretic
A drug that increases the production of urine.

diverticulosis
A condition marked by small sacs or pouches (diverticula) in the walls of an organ such as the stomach or colon. These sacs can become inflamed and cause a condition called diverticulitis, which may be a risk factor for certain types of cancer.

DJ-927
A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is a type of taxane derivative.

DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid. The molecules inside cells that carry genetic information and pass it from one generation to the next. Also called deoxyribonucleic acid.

DNA gene-expression microarray (… JEEN-ek-SPREH-shun MY-kroh-uh-RAY)
A process that allows thousands of pieces of DNA that are fixed to a glass slide to be analyzed at one time. It is used to identify the genes (pieces of DNA) in specific cells or tissue that are actively used to make RNA, which then may be used to make proteins.

DNA methylase (… MEH-thih-LAYZ)
An enzyme (a protein that speeds up chemical reactions in the body) that attaches a methyl group to DNA. A methyl group is a chemical group containing one carbon and three hydrogen molecules. Also called DNA methyltransferase.

DNA methyltransferase (... MEH-thul-TRANZ-fer-ayz)
An enzyme (a protein that speeds up chemical reactions in the body) that attaches a methyl group to DNA. A methyl group is a chemical group containing one carbon and three hydrogen molecules. Also called DNA methylase.

DNR order
Do not resuscitate order. A type of advance directive in which a person states that healthcare providers should not perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (restarting the heart) if his or her heart or breathing stops. Also called do not resuscitate order.

do not resuscitate order (…ree-SUH-sih-TAYT…)
DNR order. A type of advance directive in which a person states that healthcare providers should not perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (restarting the heart) if his or her heart or breathing stops. Also called DNR order.

docetaxel (doh-seh-TAK-sel)
A drug used together with other drugs to treat certain types of breast cancer, stomach cancer, prostate cancer, and certain types of head and neck cancer. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Docetaxel is a type of mitotic inhibitor. Also called Taxotere.

dock
Rumex acetosella. A plant that has been used in some cultures to treat certain medical problems. It may have anticancer effects. Also called sheep sorrel and sorrel.

dolasetron
A drug that prevents or reduces nausea and vomiting. It is a type of antiemetic.

dolastatin 10
An anticancer drug that is a type of mitotic inhibitor.

donepezil (doh-NEP-eh-zil)
A drug that is used to treat Alzheimer disease and is being studied in the treatment of side effects caused by radiation therapy to the brain. It is a type of cholinesterase inhibitor.

dong quai (dahng-kwye)
Angelica sinensis. An herb native to China. A substance taken from the roots has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat menstrual and menopausal problems. Dong quai may increase the effect of the drug warfarin (a blood-thinner).

donor lymphocyte infusion (DOH-ner LIM-foh-site in-FYOO-zhun)
A type of therapy in which lymphocytes from the blood of a donor are given to a patient who has already received a stem cell transplant from the same donor. The donor lymphocytes may kill remaining cancer cells. Donor lymphocyte infusion is used to treat chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) that has come back and myeloma. It is being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer.

dose
The amount of medicine taken, or radiation given, at one time.

dose-dense chemotherapy (DOSE-dents KEE-moh-THAYR-uh-pee)
A chemotherapy treatment plan in which drugs are given with less time between treatments than in a standard chemotherapy treatment plan.

dose-dependent
Refers to the effects of treatment with a drug. If the effects change when the dose of the drug is changed, the effects are said to be dose-dependent.

dose-limiting
Describes side effects of a drug or other treatment that are serious enough to prevent an increase in dose or level of that treatment.

dose-rate
The strength of a treatment given over a period of time.

dosimetrist do-SIM-uh-trist
A person who determines the proper radiation dose for treatment.

dosimetry (doh-SIH-muh-tree)
Measurement of radiation exposure from x-rays, gamma rays, or other types of radiation used in the treatment or detection of diseases, including cancer.

double-blinded
A clinical trial in which neither the medical staff nor the person knows which of several possible therapies the person is receiving.

double-contrast barium enema
A procedure in which x-rays of the colon and rectum are taken after a liquid containing barium is put into the rectum. Barium is a silver-white metallic compound that outlines the colon and rectum on an x-ray and helps show abnormalities. Air is put into the rectum and colon to further enhance the x-ray.

doubling time (DUH-bling...)
In biology, the amount of time it takes for one cell to divide or for a group of cells (such as a tumor) to double in size. The doubling time is different for different kinds of cancer cells or tumors.

douche (DOOSH)
A procedure in which water or a medicated solution is used to clean the vagina and cervix.

Down syndrome (...SIN-drome)
A disorder caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21 and characterized by mental retardation and distinguishing physical features.

Dox-SL
A form of the anticancer drug doxorubicin that is contained in very tiny, fat-like particles. It may have fewer side effects and work better than doxorubicin. Dox-SL is used to treat ovarian cancer, AIDS-related Kaposi sarcoma, and multiple myeloma in patients whose disease has not gotten better after treatment with other anticancer drugs. It may be used together with other anticancer drugs. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Dox-SL is a type of anthracycline antitumor antibiotic. Also called Doxil, Evacet, and LipoDox.

doxazosin (dox-AY-zoh-sin)
A drug used to treat high blood pressure and urinary problems caused by an enlarged prostate. It relaxes muscle tissue in blood vessels and in the prostate. Doxazosin is a type of alpha blocker. Also called doxazosin mesylate and Cardura.

doxazosin mesylate (dox-AY-zoh-sin MEH-zih-layt)
A drug used to treat high blood pressure and urinary problems caused by an enlarged prostate. It relaxes muscle tissue in blood vessels and in the prostate. Doxazosin mesylate is a type of alpha blocker. Also called doxazosin and Cardura.

doxercalciferol
A substance being studied in the prevention of recurrent prostate cancer. It is a type of vitamin D analog.

Doxil (DOK-sil)
A form of the anticancer drug doxorubicin that is contained in very tiny, fat-like particles. It may have fewer side effects and work better than doxorubicin. Doxil is used to treat ovarian cancer, AIDS-related Kaposi sarcoma, and multiple myeloma in patients whose disease has not gotten better after treatment with other anticancer drugs. It may be used together with other anticancer drugs. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Doxil is a type of anthracycline antitumor antibiotic. Also called doxorubicin hydrochloride liposome, Evacet, Dox-SL, and LipoDox.

doxorubicin (DOK-soh-ROO-bih-sin)
A drug that is used to treat many types of cancer and is being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Doxorubicin comes from the bacterium Streptomyces peucetius. It damages DNA (the molecules inside cells that carry genetic information) and stops cells from growing. Rapidly growing tumor cells that take up doxorubicin may die. It is a type of anthracycline antitumor antibiotic. Also called doxorubicin hydrochloride, Adriamycin PFS, Adriamycin RDF, and Rubex.

doxorubicin hydrochloride (DOK-soh-ROO-bih-sin HY-droh-KLOR-ide)
A drug that is used to treat many types of cancer and is being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Doxorubicin hydrochloride comes from the bacterium Streptomyces peucetius. It damages DNA (the molecules inside cells that carry genetic information) and stops cells from growing. Rapidly growing tumor cells that take up doxorubicin hydrochloride may die. It is a type of anthracycline antitumor antibiotic. Also called doxorubicin, Adriamycin PFS, Adriamycin RDF, and Rubex.

doxorubicin hydrochloride liposome (DOK-soh-ROO-bih-sin HY-droh-KLOR-ide LY-poh-SOME)
A form of the anticancer drug doxorubicin that is contained in very tiny, fat-like particles. It may have fewer side effects and work better than doxorubicin. Doxorubicin hydrochloride liposome is used to treat ovarian cancer, AIDS-related Kaposi sarcoma, and multiple myeloma in patients whose disease has not gotten better after treatment with other anticancer drugs. It may be used together with other anticancer drugs. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Doxorubicin hydrochloride liposome is a type of anthracycline antitumor antibiotic. Also called Doxil, Evacet, Dox-SL, and LipoDox.

doxycycline
An antibiotic drug used to treat infection.

DPA
Durable power of attorney. A type of power of attorney. A power of attorney is a legal document that gives one person (such as a relative, lawyer, or friend) the authority to make legal, medical, or financial decisions for another person. It may go into effect right away, or when that person is no longer able to make decisions for himself or herself. A DPA remains in effect until the person who grants it dies or cancels it. It does not need to be renewed over time. Also called durable power of attorney.

DPPE
Belongs to a group of antihormone drugs.

drain
In medicine, to remove fluid as it collects; or, a tube or wick-like device used to remove fluid from a body cavity, wound, or infected area.

DRE
Digital rectal examination. An examination in which a doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel for abnormalities. Also called digital rectal examination.

DRI
Dietary Reference Intakes. A set of guidelines developed by U.S. and Canadian scientists to give information about the role of nutrients in human health. These guidelines include the Reference Daily Intakes (RDI), which are the recommended amounts of nutrients to be eaten each day to meet the needs of most healthy people. This system replaced the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA). Also called Dietary Reference Intakes.

dronabinol
A synthetic pill form of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active ingredient in marijuana that is used to treat nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy.

droperidol (droh-PAYR-ih-dol)
A drug used to prevent nausea and vomiting in patients who receive anesthesia before surgery. It is also used to treat anxiety. Droperidol is a type of antiemetic, adjunct anesthesia, and antipsychotic.

drug
Any substance, other than food, that is used to prevent, diagnose, treat or relieve symptoms of a disease or abnormal condition. Also refers to a substance that alters mood or body function, or that can be habit-forming or addictive, especially a narcotic.

drug abuse (...uh-BYOOS)
The use of illegal drugs or the use of prescription or over-the-counter drugs for purposes other than those for which they are meant to be used, or in large amounts. Drug abuse may lead to social, physical, emotional, and job-related problems.

drug interaction (… IN-ter-AK-shun)
A change in the way a drug acts in the body when taken with certain other drugs, herbals, or foods, or when taken with certain medical conditions. Drug interactions may cause the drug to be more or less effective, or cause effects on the body that are not expected.

drug resistance
The failure of cancer cells, viruses, or bacteria to respond to a drug used to kill or weaken them. The cells, viruses, or bacteria may be resistant to the drug at the beginning of treatment, or may become resistant after being exposed to the drug.

drug tolerance
A condition that occurs when the body gets used to a medicine so that either more medicine is needed or different medicine is needed.

dry orgasm
Sexual climax without the release of semen from the penis.

DSMB
Data and Safety Monitoring Board. An impartial group that oversees a clinical trial and reviews the results to see if they are acceptable. This group determines if the trial should be changed or closed. Also called Data and Safety Monitoring Board.

DT388IL3 fusion protein (...FYOO-zhun PROH-teen)
A substance being studied in the treatment of myeloid leukemia (a disease in which too many immature non-lymphocyte white blood cells are found in the blood and bone marrow). DT388IL3 fusion protein is made by combining IL-3 with a toxic substance. The IL-3 attaches to the cancer cells and the toxic substance kills them.

DTGM fusion protein
An anticancer drug formed by the combination of diphtheria toxin and a colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). The colony-stimulating factor is attracted to cancer cells, and the diphtheria toxin kills the cells.

DU 145
A cell line made from human prostate cancer cells that is used in the laboratory to study the way prostate cancer cells grow.

dual energy x-ray absorptiometric scan (... ub-SORP-shee-uh-MEH-trik SKAN)
An imaging test that measures bone density (the amount of bone mineral contained in a certain volume of bone) by passing x-rays with two different energy levels through the bone. It is used to diagnose osteoporosis (decrease in bone mass and density). Also called DEXA scan, bone mineral density scan, BMD scan, dual x-ray absorptiometry, DXA, and DEXA.

dual x-ray absorptiometry (... ub-SORP-shee-AH-meh-tree)
An imaging test that measures bone density (the amount of bone mineral contained in a certain volume of bone) by passing x-rays with two different energy levels through the bone. It is used to diagnose osteoporosis (decrease in bone mass and density). Also called DEXA scan, bone mineral density scan, BMD scan, dual energy x-ray absorptiometric scan, DXA, and DEXA.

duct (dukt)
In medicine, a tube or vessel of the body through which fluids pass.

ductal carcinoma
The most common type of breast cancer. It begins in the cells that line the milk ducts in the breast.

ductal carcinoma in situ (DUK-tal KAR-sih-NOH-muh in SYE-too)
DCIS. A noninvasive condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct. The abnormal cells have not spread outside the duct to other tissues in the breast. In some cases, ductal carcinoma in situ may become invasive cancer and spread to other tissues, although it is not known at this time how to predict which lesions will become invasive. Also called DCIS and intraductal carcinoma.

ductal lavage (DUK-tal luh-VAHZ)
A method used to collect cells from milk ducts in the breast. A hair-size catheter (tube) is inserted into the nipple, and a small amount of salt water is released into the duct. The water picks up breast cells, and is removed. The cells are checked under a microscope. Ductal lavage may be used in addition to clinical breast examination and mammography to detect breast cancer.

Dukes A colorectal cancer
Cancer has spread beyond the innermost lining of the colon and/or rectum to the second and third layers and involves the inside wall of the colon and/or rectum, but it has not spread to the outer wall or outside the colon and/or rectum. Also called stage I colorectal cancer.

Dukes B colorectal cancer
Cancer has spread outside the colon and/or rectum to nearby tissue, but it has not gone into the lymph nodes. Also called stage II colorectal cancer.

Dukes C colorectal cancer
Tumor cells have spread to organs and lymph nodes near the colon/rectum. Also called stage III colorectal cancer.

Dukes classification
A staging system used to describe the extent of colorectal cancer. Stages range from A (early stage) to D (advanced stage).

Dukes D colorectal cancer
Cancer may have spread to nearby lymph nodes and has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver or lungs. Also called stage IV colorectal cancer.

dumping syndrome
A condition that occurs when food or liquid moves too fast into the small intestine. Symptoms include cramps, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, weakness, and dizziness. Dumping syndrome sometimes occurs in people who have had part or all of their stomach removed.

duodenitis
Inflammation of the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine that connects to the stomach).

duodenum (doo-ah-DEE-num)
The first part of the small intestine that connects to the stomach.

durable power of attorney (DUR-uh-bul...uh-TER-nee)
DPA. A type of power of attorney. A power of attorney is a legal document that gives one person (such as a relative, lawyer, or friend) the authority to make legal, medical, or financial decisions for another person. It may go into effect right away, or when that person is no longer able to make decisions for himself or herself. A durable power of attorney remains in effect until the person who grants it dies or cancels it. It does not need to be renewed over time. Also called DPA.

dutasteride (duh-TAS-ter-ide)
A drug used to treat symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland. It is being studied in the treatment of male hair loss and prostate cancer. Dutasteride blocks enzymes the body needs to make male sex hormones. It is a type of 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. Also called Avodart and GG745.

DX-52-1
An anticancer drug that is a type of antitumor antibiotic. It is an anthracycline.

DX-8951f
An anticancer drug that is a type of topoisomerase inhibitor. Also called exatecan mesylate.

DXA
An imaging test that measures bone density (the amount of bone mineral contained in a certain volume of bone) by passing x-rays with two different energy levels through the bone. It is used to diagnose osteoporosis (decrease in bone mass and density). Also called DEXA scan, bone mineral density scan, BMD scan, dual energy x-ray absorptiometric scan, dual x-ray absorptiometry, and DEXA.

dyscrasia
Disease. Usually refers to diseases of the blood.

dysesthesia (DIS-es-THEE-zhuh)
A condition in which a sense, especially touch, is distorted. Dysesthesia can cause an ordinary stimulus to be unpleasant or painful. It can also cause insensitivity to a stimulus.

dysfunction (dis-FUNK-shun)
A state of not functioning normally.

dysgeusia
A bad taste in the mouth. Also called parageusia.

dyspepsia
Upset stomach.

dysphagia
Difficulty swallowing.

dysphonia (diss-FOH-nee-uh)
Trouble with the voice when trying to talk, including hoarseness and change in pitch or quality or voice.

dysplasia (dis-PLAY-zhuh)
Cells that look abnormal under a microscope but are not cancer.

dysplastic nevi (dis-PLAS-tik NEE-vye)
Atypical moles; moles whose appearance is different from that of common moles. Dysplastic nevi are generally larger than ordinary moles and have irregular and indistinct borders. Their color frequently is not uniform and ranges from pink to dark brown; they usually are flat, but parts may be raised above the skin surface.

dysplastic nevus (dis-PLAS-tik NEE-vus)
An atypical mole; a mole whose appearance is different from that of a common mole. A dysplastic nevus is generally larger than an ordinary mole and has irregular and indistinct borders. Its color frequently is not uniform and ranges from pink to dark brown; it is usually flat, but parts may be raised above the skin surface.

dyspnea
Difficult, painful breathing or shortness of breath.

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cholangiocarcinoma, or bile-duct (bile duct) cancer, arises from the tissues in the bile duct.