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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


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


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 evaluates the effects of treatment

Computed tomography

A scan using x-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the inside of your body


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


A type of immunotherapy that blocks a protein called PD L1 on the surface of certain immune cells called T-cells; this activates the T-cells to find and kill cancer cells. It is administered through a drip into a vein in your arm or chest


A condition in which pus collects in the pleural cavity

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

Growth factor

A type of drug used to increase the production of white blood cells in order to reduce the risk of infection


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

Induction (therapy)

Initial treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy to shrink the tumour before a second planned treatment (for example, surgery)


Administered into a vein

Invasive (cancer)

Cancer that has spread beyond the layer of tissue in which it developed and is growing into surrounding, healthy tissues

Lymph nodes

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

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

Magnetic resonance imaging

A type of scan that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body


The edge or border of the tissue removed in cancer surgery. The margin is described as negative or clean when no cancer cells are found at the edge of the tissue, suggesting that all of the cancer has been removed. The margin is described as positive or involved when cancer cells are found at the edge of the tissue, suggesting that all of the cancer has not been removed


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

Neoadjuvant (therapy)

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


A growth or lump that may be malignant (cancer) or benign (not cancer)

Palliative (treatment)

The treatment of patients with advanced, progressive illness. It focuses on providing relief from pain, symptoms and physical and emotional stress, without dealing with the cause of the condition

Pericardial effusion

A condition in which extra fluid collects between the heart and the pericardium (the sac around the heart). The extra fluid causes pressure on the heart

Pleural effusion

A condition in which extra fluid collects between the thin layers of tissue lining the lung and the chest cavity wall


The likely outcome of a medical condition


A drug that is given to prevent disease


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


A disappearance of the signs and symptoms of cancer


Able to be removed by surgery

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

Stereotactic radiotherapy

A type of external radiotherapy that uses special equipment to position the patient and precisely deliver radiation to a tumour

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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