Oops, you're using an old version of your browser so some of the features on this page may not be displaying properly.

MINIMAL Requirements: Google Chrome 24+Mozilla Firefox 20+Internet Explorer 11Opera 15–18Apple Safari 7SeaMonkey 2.15-2.23

ESMO Patient Guides COVID19 1000x250

Adjuvant (treatment)

Additional treatment given after the primary treatment to reduce the chance of the cancer coming back; usually refers to radiotherapy and/or systemic therapy after surgery


A medical procedure in which a small sample of cells or tissue is taken for examination under a microscope

Bowel perforation

A hole in the wall of part of the gastrointestinal tract


A type of chemotherapy that is administered orally


A type of targeted therapy, which works by blocking signals within cancer cells that tell the cells to grow. It is a type of monoclonal antibody and is administered through a drip into a vein in your arm or chest


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

Clinical trial

A study that compares the effects of one treatment with another


A condition in which a tumour presses on another part of the body, such as a nerve


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


The chemical that carries genetic information in the cells of your body

Faecal occult blood test

A test to check for blood in the stool. Small samples of stool are placed on special cards and sent to a doctor or laboratory for testing. Blood in the stool may be a sign of colorectal cancer

Febrile neutropenia

A condition in which there is fever and an abnormally low level of white blood cells which increases the risk of infection and may require intensive treatment and a hospital stay

First-line (treatment)

The initial treatment given to a patient


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

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


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


Administered into a vein

Maintenance therapy

Treatment that is given to help keep cancer from coming back after it has disappeared following the initial therapy


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


A cancer that has spread from its site of origin to different parts of the body

Microsatellite instability

A change that occurs in the DNA of certain cells (such as tumour cells) in which the number of repeats of microsatellites (short, repeated sequences of DNA) is different to the number of repeats that was in the DNA when it was inherited. The cause of microsatellite instability may be a defect in the ability to repair mistakes made when DNA is copied in the cell

Myelosuppressive (treatment)

Treatment that stops or slows the growth of blood-forming cells in the bone marrow

Neoadjuvant therapy

Treatment given as a first step to shrink a tumour before the main treatment, which is usually surgery


An abnormally low level of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) in the blood, which increases risk of infection


A type of white blood cell that play an important role in fighting off infection. They serve as the primary defense against infections by destroying bacteria, bacterial fragments and immunoglobulin-bound viruses in the blood


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


A disease that is prevalent around the world


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


Growths that protrude from a mucous membrane


A drug (therapy) that is given to prevent disease

Prophylactic growth factor

Growth factors can reduce complications of chemotherapy-induced myelosuppression. They can prevent neutropenia and improve quality of life


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

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

Systemic (therapy)

Drugs that spread throughout the body to treat cancer cells wherever they may be. They include chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy

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

Third-line (treatment)

The third treatment given to a patient when the second-line therapy has not worked or has been stopped because of the occurrence of side effects or other concerns


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

White blood cells

A type of blood cell that is part of the body’s immune system. White blood cells help the body fight infections

This site uses cookies. Some of these cookies are essential, while others help us improve your experience by providing insights into how the site is being used.

For more detailed information on the cookies we use, please check our Privacy Policy.

Customise settings