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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

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 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


Chemotherapy and radiotherapy given together


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 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


The use of a thin, tube-like instrument to look at tissues inside the body

Endoscopic ultrasound

A procedure in which an endoscope with an ultrasound probe and biopsy needle is inserted into the body to create an image by ultrasound and take a biopsy

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


A procedure that involves the insertion of a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing (laparoscope) through the abdominal wall to examine the inside of the abdomen and/or remove tissue

Maintenance therapy

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


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

Neoadjuvant (therapy)

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


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

Peritoneal carcinomatosis

A rare type of cancer that can develop in the peritoneum (the thin layer of tissue that lines the abdomen and covers most of the abdominal organs) when gastrointestinal cancers spread


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


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


Treatment plan


A disappearance of the signs and symptoms of cancer


Surgery to remove tissue

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

Stage or staging (of cancer)

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


A small tube that is used to keep a tubular structure of the body open

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


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

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