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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

Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG)

A type of biologic therapy used to treat early stage bladder cancer. The treatment uses a weakened form of a bacterium that does not cause disease. It is given through a catheter that is placed into the bladder where the BCG solution is held for about two hours. BCG may help the immune system kill cancer cells


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


A type of chemotherapy that 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


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


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


Surgery to remove all or part of the bladder


Examination of the bladder using a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens, which is inserted into the urethra

First-line (treatment)

The initial treatment given to a patient


Cancer grade is based on how different tumour cells look from normal cells under a microscope, and on how quickly they grow. The grade will be a value between one and three and reflects the aggressiveness of tumour cells; the higher the grade, the more aggressive the tumour


Blood in the urine


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


The fluid that circulates throughout the lymphatic system; it contains infection-fighting white blood cells

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


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

Muscle invasive (bladder cancer)

Cancer that has spread into the smooth muscle in the wall of the bladder

Neoadjuvant therapy

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


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


A disease that is prevalent around the world

Platinum-based (chemotherapy)

A combination of chemotherapy drugs that includes a platinum (i.e. cisplatin or carboplatin)


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

Recurrent (disease)

A disease that has returned

Refractory (disease)

A disease that does not respond to treatment


Return of a cancer or deterioration in a person’s state of health


Surgery to remove tissue

Stage or staging (of cancer)

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

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


The tube through which urine leaves the body

White blood cell

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

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