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ESMO Patient Guides COVID19 1000x250

Anastomotic leak

A leak of contents from a surgical join, following a procedure to connect healthy sections of tubular structures in the body after the diseased portion has been surgically removed


A type of targeted therapy used to treat some cancers. It is a monoclonal antibody that targets vascular endothelial growth factor and prevents the cancer cells from developing their own blood supply, thus helping to slow down tumour growth

Bowel perforation

A hole in the wall of part of the gastrointestinal tract


A type of chemotherapy that is administered through a drip into a vein in your arm or chest

Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia

Abnormal cells on the surface of the cervix. This is not cancer, but may develop into cancer


A type of cancer treatment using medicine that kills the cancer cells by damaging them so that they cannot reproduce and spread


Chemotherapy and radiotherapy given together


A type of chemotherapy that is administered through a drip into a vein in your arm or chest

Clinical trial

A study that compares the effects of one treatment with another


A procedure in which a cone-shaped piece of abnormal tissue is removed from the cervix


A group of viruses that cause disease in mammals and birds but may also affect humans


A disease caused by a type of coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2

Curative (treatment)

A treatment that is intended to cure the cancer

Deep vein thrombosis

The formation of a blood clot in a deep vein of the leg or lower pelvis

External beam radiotherapy

A type of radiotherapy that uses a machine to aim high energy rays at the cancer from outside of the body

First-line (treatment)

The initial treatment given to a patient


Abnormal openings or passages between two organs; in cervical cancer, fistulae can develop between the bladder and the vagina, leading to a persistent discharge of fluid from the vagina

Gastrointestinal system

The system of organs responsible for getting food into and out of the body and for making use of food to keep the body healthy – includes the oesophagus, stomach and intestines


Abnormal enlargement of a kidney


A type of cancer treatment that stimulates the body’s immune system to fight the cancer

Intestinal occlusion

A partial or complete block of the small or large intestine that keeps food, liquid, gas and stool from moving through the intestines in a normal way

Lymphatic system

A network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body

Lymph nodes

Small structures throughout the lymphatic system that work as filters for harmful substances, such as cancer cells or bacteria


Cancerous tumours that have originated from a primary tumour/growth in another part of the body

Multidisciplinary team

A group of healthcare workers who are members of different disciplines (e.g. oncologist, nurse specialist, physiotherapist, radiologist) and provide specific services to the patient. The activities of the team are brought together using a care plan

Nerve root

The initial segment of a nerve leaving the central nervous system


A type of chemotherapy that is administered through a drip into a vein in your arm or chest


Treatment given to relieve symptoms and reduce the suffering caused by cancer


A disease that is prevalent around the world

Pelvic exenteration

An operation to remove the bladder, part of the bowel, ovaries, uterus, cervix and vagina


Inflammation of the peritoneum, the tissue that lines the abdominal wall and covers most of the organs in the abdomen

Radical hysterectomy

Removal of the uterus, cervix, all of the surrounding tissues that hold the uterus in place, the upper section of the vagina and all of the lymph nodes around the uterus. The ovaries and fallopian tubes may also be removed


Treatment involving the use of high-energy radiation, which is commonly used to treat cancer


Return of a cancer

Renal obstruction

A blockage that prevents the flow of urine through its normal path in the kidneys

Salvage (treatment)

Treatment that is given after the cancer has not responded to other treatments

Second-line (treatment)

The second treatment given to a patient once the initial (first-line) therapy has not worked or has been stopped because of the occurrence of side effects or other concerns

Sentinel lymph node dissection

Removal and examination of the sentinel node(s) – the first lymph node(s) to which cancer cells are likely to spread from a primary tumour

Stage or staging (of cancer)

The process of determining the extent to which a cancer has grown and spread

Targeted therapy

A type of cancer treatment that uses drugs or other substances to precisely identify and attack cancer cells, usually while doing little damage to normal cells


A type of chemotherapy that is administered through a drip into a vein in your arm or chest or can be given in oral form, as capsules


Surgery to remove the cervix. The upper part of the vagina and some pelvic lymph nodes may also be removed


A lump or growth of abnormal cells. Tumours may be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). In this guide, the term ‘tumour’ refers to a cancerous growth, unless otherwise stated


The tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder


The tube through which urine leaves the body

Vascular endothelial growth factor

A protein produced by cells that stimulates the growth of new blood vessels

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