13 11 20

Information and support

  • Get informed
  • Get support
  • Cut my risk
  • Get involved
  • Research
  • Glossary

    A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z



    The part of the body between the chest and hips, which contains the stomach, spleen, pancreas, liver, gall bladder, bowel, bladder and kidneys.

    Abdominoperineal (AP) resection

    Surgery to remove the anus, the rectum, and part of the sigmoid colon through an incision made in the abdomen. The end of the intestine is attached to an opening in the surface of the abdomen (a colostomy) and body waste is collected in a disposable bag outside of the body.

    Accelerated radiotherapy

    Receiving a higher dose of radiotherapy in a shortened period of time.


    The inability of the oesophagus to move food down into the stomach.

    Acral lentiginous melanoma

    A rare type of cutaneous melanoma that occurs on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet or under the nails.

    Active surveillance

    When a person does not need immediate treatment, but instead has their health monitored regularly. Sometimes called watchful waiting.


    A traditional form of Chinese medicine in which fine, sterile needles are inserted into points along the energy channels in the body to rebalance energy and reduce symptoms of ill health.

    Acute pain

    Pain that is severe but lasts a short time.

    Adam's apple

    This is the protrusion in the neck caused by cartilage around the thyroid and larynx.


    A cancer that starts in the glandular tissue.


    A benign growth of glandular tissue. Adenomas are usually benign but can become malignant. They can grow from many organs in the body, such as the colon.


    Scar tissue that forms between surfaces inside the body.

    Adjuvant therapy

    A treatment given with or shortly after another treatment to enhance its effectiveness.

    Adrenal glands

    Small glands above the kidneys that secrete the sex hormones, adrenalin and cortisone.

    Advance health care directive

    A legal document that outlines a person's specific wishes for future medical care. Also called living will.

    Advanced cancer

    Cancer that has spread from the original site into the surrounding tissues or to other parts of the body (metastasised) and is less likely to be cured.


    The tubes that carry air into the lungs, including the trachea and bronchi.

    Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)

    AFP is a protein produced by certain tumours. Doctors can check the level of AFP to see how effective treatment has been.

    Alternative therapies

    Therapies that are used in place of conventional treatment, often in the hope that they will provide a cure but with no clinical evidence available to prove their effectiveness.


    The tiny air sacs in the lungs, where oxygen enters the blood and carbon dioxide leaves it.


    Deficiency in the number or quality of red blood cells in the body.


    Drugs given to stop a person feeling pain during a medical procedure. A ‘local' anaesthetic numbs part of the body; a ‘general' anaesthetic causes temporary loss of consciousness.


    A drug or natural remedy used to relieve pain.


    The joining together of two tubes, such as two cut ends of the bowel.


    Male sex hormones. In men, testosterone, a male sex hormone is produced by the testicles and the adrenal glands. In women, a small amount is made by the ovaries and the adrenals.

    Anecdotal evidence

    Anecdotal evidence is based on people's (even doctors') personal experiences or opinions rather than objective, controlled research studies.


    The formation of new blood vessels. This enables tumours to develop their own blood supply, which helps them survive and grow.


    A drug, for example, penicillin, used to treat infection caused by bacteria.


    Part of the body's immune system. Antibodies are proteins made by the blood in response to an invader (antigen) in the body. They help protect against viruses, bacteria and other foreign substances.


    a drug that helps to control nausea and vomiting.


    The opening at the end of the digestive tract, through which bowel motions are passed.


    Strong feelings of fear, dread, worry or uneasiness.


    A type of programmed (normal) cell death. This is the body's normal way of getting rid
of damaged, unneeded or unwanted cells.


    A tube- shaped sac attached to and opening into the start of the large bowel.


    The brownish or pink rim of tissue surrounding the nipple of the breast.

    Aromatase inhibitors

    Aromatase inhibitors are sometimes used to treat breast cancer or help keep breast cancer from coming back after surgery. They stop a key enzyme (aromatase) from changing other hormones into oestrogen and lower the oestrogen level in the body.


    The use of essential oils extracted from plants that are thought to improve mood, physical symptoms and general well-being.

    Arterial embolisation

    The blocking of an artery by a clot of foreign material. This can be done as treatment to stop the flow of blood to a tumour.


    A blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart.


    A naturally occurring mineral that forms long, crystallised fibres. Formerly used in manufacturing and building, asbestos use is now banned in Australia because its fibres can cause serious illness.

    Ascending colon

    Colon (a muscular tube about one and a half to two metres long that is part of the large intestine) The colon is divided into four sections: the ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, and sigmoid colon.


    Fluid build-up in the abdomen, making it swollen and bloated.


    A type of glial cell (nerve cell) found in the brain


    A type of malignant brain tumour.

    Axillary dissection/clearance

    Removal of a sample or all of the lymph nodes from under the armpit to check if the cancer has spread.


    Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG)

    A vaccine that is used to treat some bladder cancers.


    Single-cell microorganisms which live in soil, water, air, plants, animals and humans. Many do not harm us, and some are helpful. But some cause disease by producing poisons.

    Barium enema

    An examination of the bowel area using a white contrast liquid. It is inserted into the rectum and x-rays are taken.

    Barium meal/swallow

    A diagnostic test. The patient drinks liquid (barium) that coats the stomach and small bowel, and shows on x-rays.

    Basal cell

    One of the three types of cells that make up the skin's epidermis (top) layer.

    Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

    A type of skin cancer that develops in the basal cells of the epidermis (top) layer of the skin.

    Basement membrane

    The epidermis (top layer of skin) is separated from the deeper layers of skin by the basement membrane. As a skin cancer becomes more advanced, it can grow through this barrier and into the deeper layers of the skin.


    Not cancerous or malignant. Benign lumps are not able to spread to other parts of the body.

    Benign prostate enlargement

    A non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate that pushes against the urethra and the bladder, slowing the flow of urine.


    A fluid made in the liver and stored in the gall bladder that helps with the digestion of fats.

    Bile duct

    The passage through which bile from the liver passes to the duodenum.

    Biological therapies

    A range of medicines made from purified versions of chemicals that are naturally made in the body. They include monoclonal antibodies and immunotherapy. Also called biotherapies.


    The removal of a small sample of tissue from the body, for examination under a microscope, to help make a diagnosis.


    The hollow muscular organ that stores urine.

    Bladder reconstruction

    The surgical creation of a new bladder from part of the bowel.


    Circulates through the body via arteries and veins. Blood consists of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets suspended in a liquid called plasma.

    Blood count

    A test that counts the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in the blood to check if they are within normal limits.

    Body image

    How you feel about your body, how you think it looks and how you present it to others.

    Body-based practices (bodywork)

    A range of therapies that involve touching the body or the energy field surrounding the body.

    Bone Cancer

    Cancer that begins in the hard substance of the bones (not the bone marrow).

    Bone marrow

    The soft, spongy material inside bones. Bone marrow contains stem cells that produce red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

    Bone scan

    Images that can show cancers, other abnormalities and infection in bone.


    Also called the intestine, colon or gut: the part of the gastrointestinal tract between the stomach and the anus. It completes the digestion and absorption of food and gets rid of the remaining wastes.

    Bowel movement/motions

    Passing of faeces/stools out of the body

    Bowel preparation

    The process of cleaning out the bowel (removing stools) before a test or scan


    A type of radiotherapy treatment that implants radioactive material sealed in needles or seeds into or near cancerous cells. Also called internal radiotherapy.

    Brain tumour

    A tumour in the brain. Brain tumours may be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

    Breakthrough pain

    Pain that occurs even though a person may be taking pain medication regularly.


    Mammary glands . The breast is made up of fat, connective tissue and lobes converging to the nipple. In women breasts produce milk after childbirth.

    Breast care nurse (BCN)

    A registered nurse who has completed special studies in breast care nursing. They improve the continuity of care for women and men affected by breast cancer, and provide important information, support and referral for a wide range of needs.

    Breast conserving surgery

    Surgery that removes part of the breast. Different terms can include: lumpectomy, partial mastectomy, segmental mastectomy, quadrantectomy, wide excision.

    Breast form

    An artificial breast worn in a bra cup or attached to the body to recreate the look of a natural breast. Also called a breast prosthesis.

    Breast implant

    A silicone gel-filled or saline-filled sac placed under the chest muscle to restore breast shape.

    Breast reconstruction

    The surgical rebuilding of a breast after mastectomy.

    Breast reduction

    Reducing the size of the breast by surgery.

    Breast surgeon

    A medical practitioner who specialises in surgery of the breast. This includes mastectomies and reconstructions.

    Breslow thickness

    A description of a melanoma's thickness in millimetres. Melanomas are classified as thin, intermediate or thick.


    A small passage that carries air into the outer parts of the lungs.

    Bronchiolo-alveolar cell carcinoma

    A type of non-small cell lung cancer.


    A diagnostic test using an endoscope to examine the lungs and respiratory system.


    Tubes in the respiratory system that carry air into the lungs.



    The pouch at the beginning of the large bowel that receives waste from the small bowel.


    Small deposits of calcium that can be seen on X-ray..


    A unit which measures the amount of energy in foods.


    A plastic tube inserted into the body (usually a vein) so that fluids can be introduced or removed.

    Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA)

    A chemical in the blood which can be used to monitor the amount of cancer cells in the body.

    Carcinoid tumour

    A type of neuroendocrine tumour that most commonly occurs in the appendix, small intestine, lung, kidney, colon or pancreas.


    A cancer that starts in the tissue lining the skin and internal organs of the body.

    Carcinoma in-situ

    A carcinoma affecting only the cells in which it began. The cancer has not begun to invade nearby tissues.


    A hollow, flexible tube through which fluids can be passed into the body or drained from it. A urinary catheter drains urine.


    A treatment technique that uses electric current to stop bleeding.


    The basic building blocks of the body. A human is made of billions of cells, which are adapted for different functions.

    Central nervous system

    The brain and the spinal cord.

    Central Nervous system (CNS)

    The brain and spinal cord

    Central venous access device (CVAD)/central line

    A type of thin plastic tube inserted into a vein. Types of CVADs include central lines, Hickman lines, peripherally inserted central catheters (PICC) and port-a-caths. It is used to deliver fluid into the body(blood, fluid or drugs such as Chemotherapy)


    A part of the brain concerned with the coordination of voluntary movements. It lies below the cerebrum.

    Cerebrospinal fluid

    The clear, watery fluid that surrounds and protects the brain and the spinal cord.


    The anterior part of the upper brain.

    Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN)

    Abnormal changes or growth in the surface layers of the cervix that are not cancer but are precancerous cells.


    The neck of the uterus that forms a canal and extends into the vagina.


    Treatment that combines chemotherapy with radiotherapy.


    The use of special (cytotoxic) drugs to treat cancer by killing cancer cells or slowing their growth.

    chemotherapy pump

    A portable device that is used to give a controlled amount of chemotherapy or pain medication. Can be used to receive chemotherapy at home.

    Chest cavity

    The area enclosed by the ribs, above the diaphragm.


    Primary liver cancer that starts in the cells lining the bile duct.


    X-ray images of the bile duct and pancreatic duct.

    Circulatory / cardio-vascular system

    Consists of the heart and blood vessels. The cardiovascular system is responsible for circulating the blood around the body, which carries nutrients and oxygen to the tissues and removes waste products.

    Clear margin

    When a malignant tumour is surgically removed some surrounding tissue is removed with it. If this surrounding tissue does not contain any cancer cells, it is said to be a clear margin.


    The peak of sexual response. Also know as orgasm.

    Clinical trial

    A part of the clinical research process that answers specific questions about whether treatments work and are safe.


    The main sexual pleasure organ for women. It is made up of erectile tissue with rich sensory nerve endings. The clitoris becomes erect during arousal.


    A surgical procedure in which cancerous areas of the colon are removed and the bowel re joined.


    The main working area of the large bowel, where water is removed from solid waste. The colon's four parts are the ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon and sigmoid colon.

    Colonic J-pouch

    An internal pouch surgically created using the lining of your large bowel. This pouch works as a rectum.


    An examination of the large bowel with a camera on a flexible tube (endoscope) that is passed through the anus.


    An operation in which the colon is connected to an opening created on the surface of the abdomen.

    Colostomy/stoma bag

    A small, disposable, flat plastic bag worn on the outside of the body to collect waste from the bowel. This is called a stoma bag or an appliance.


    The examination of the cervix with a magnifying instrument called a colposcope, to check for abnormalities.


    The examination of the vagina and cervix with a magnifying instrument, called a colposcope, to check these tissues for abnormal cells.

    Complementary therapies

    Supportive treatments that are used in conjunction with conventional treatment. They may improve general health, well-being and quality of life, and help people cope with side effects of cancer.

    Cone biopsy

    The removal of a cone-shaped piece of the cervix for examination.

    Conformal radiotherapy

    A type of external radiotherapy that uses a computer to shape the radiation beams to the shape of the tumour, and delivers the beams from several different directions.


    A condition in which stool/faeces becomes hard, dry, and difficult to pass, and bowel movements don't happen very often.


    Voluntary control over bladder and bowel movements.

    Continent urinary diversion

    A surgical procedure that uses
a piece of bowel to form a pouch with a valve to store urine.

    Control group

    In a clinical trial the control group receives the best standard treatment but does not receive the new treatment being studied. The control is compared to the group that receives the new treatment to see which is more effective.

    Controlled trial

    A trial that compares two or more treatments to determine which is more effective.

    Conventional cancer treatment

    Commonly used, scientifically validated treatments for cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy and drugs.

    Core needle biopsy

    Removal of tiny pieces of tissue using a needle so the cells can be examined under a microscope .


    An operation to open the skull to access the brain.

    Crohn's disease

    A benign type of inflammatory bowel disease that may increase a person's risk of developing bowel cancer.


    The use of extreme cold to freeze and destroy unwanted tissue.

    CT scan

    A computerised tomography scan using x-rays to create a picture of the body.


    To heal or restore health; a treatment to restore health.


    The surgical removal of a growth using a small, spoon-shaped instrument with a sharp edge called a curette.


    Of the skin

    Cutaneous melanoma

    Melanoma that starts in the skin.


    An abnormal sac or closed cavity in the body filled with fluid or semi-solid material.


    Infection or inflammation of the bladder and urinary tract.


    A thin lighted viewing instrument that is inserted into the urethra and advanced into the bladder.



    Evacuating faeces/stools from the bowels.


    A doctor who specialises in
the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions, including skin cancer.


    The lower layer of the two main layers that make up the skin.

    Descending colon

    The left side of the colon.

    Desmoplastic melanoma

    A rare type of cutaneous melanoma.


    The identification and naming of a person's disease.


    A dome-like sheet of muscle that divides the chest cavity from the abdomen and is used in breathing.


    Abnormally frequent or liquid emptying of bowel content.

    Dietary supplement

    Nourishment given to increase the nutritional intake of kilojoules/calories (energy), vitamins and minerals.


    A health professional who supports and educates patients about nutrition and diet during treatment and recovery.

    Digital rectal examination/DRE

    An examination of the prostate or bowel by inserting a gloved finger into the rectum

    Dilation and curettage (D&C)

    When the cervix is dilated and the lining of the uterus (endometrium) is scraped out.


    Emotional, mental, social or spiritual suffering. Distress may range from feelings of vulnerability and sadness to stronger feelings of depression, anxiety, panic and isolation.

    Double blind

    A trial in which neither the patient nor their doctor knows what treatment the patient is receiving, to reduce bias.

    Dry orgasm

    Sexual climax without the release of semen from the penis (ejaculation).


    An enclosed tube or passage in the body.


    The first section of the small bowel.


    Difficulty swallowing.


    A change in size, shape and arrangement of normal cells. Dysplastic cells are precancerous, not cancerous.


    Eastern medicine

    A broad term used to describe Indian, Tibetan and east Asian medicine, all of which share philosophies about the body's energy system and the need to maintain balance and harmony.


    The release of semen from the penis during an orgasm.


    A benign condition in which the alveoli of the lungs are enlarged and damaged. It reduces the lung's surface area, causing breathing difficulties.

    Endocrine tissue

    Specialised tissue that secretes hormones.

    Endocrine tumour

    A rare type of tumour affecting the glands that produce hormones.


    A doctor who specialises in treating people with disorders of the endocrine system.


    Glandular lining of the inside of the uterus that is stimulated by the hormones oestrogen and progesterone and shed each month as the ‘period'.

    Endorectal ultrasound

    A type of ultrasound scan. A soundwave-generating device called a probe is inserted into the rectum, and an image of the rectum appears on a screen.


    The flexible tube with a light used during an endoscopy.

    Endoscopic ultrasound

    A diagnostic test. An endoscope with a probe on the end is inserted into the body, and the probe releases soundwaves that are translated into a picture on a computer screen.

    Enduring power of attorney

    A person with legal authority to act on behalf of the person they are caring for on all financial matters.


    A type of liquid solution that washes out the bowels.


    Proteins that aid digestion and the normal functioning and performance of the body.


    The top, outer layer of the two main layers that make up the skin.

    Erectile dysfunction

    Inability to obtain or maintain an erection firm enough for penetration. Also called impotence.


    The act or practice of deliberately ending the life of a person suffering from a terminal illness or incurable condition. It is currently illegal in Australia.

    Excision biopsy

    The complete removal of a lump or patch of abnormal skin or tissue by cutting out (excising) the affected area.

    External beam radiotherapy

    The use of high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells or injure them so they cannot multiply.

    External radiotherapy

    A type of radiotherapy delivered to the cancer from outside the body.


    Faecal occult blood test (FOBT)

    A test that checks stools/bowel motions for microscopic traces of blood.


    Also called stools. Waste matter (excrement) discharged from the bowel through the anus (bowel movement).

    Fallopian tubes

    Two long thin tubes that extend from the uterus to the ovaries. The fallopian tubes carry the sperm to the egg and a fertilised egg from the ovary to the uterus.


    A genetic condition that can be inherited or “passed down” through generations of a family.

    Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)

    A benign condition that causes polyps to form in the large bowel. The polyps will become cancerous if untreated.


    Not having any food or fluid


    The ability to conceive a child.

    Fine-needle aspiration

    A biopsy procedure where a fine needle is inserted into a lump to extract cells.

    Flap reconstruction

    breast reconstruction using muscle and skin from other parts of a woman's body to build a new breast.

    Flat urothelial carcinoma

    A tumour in the bladder lining.


    Wind or gas.

    Follicular thyroid cancer

    The second most common type of thyroid cancer, developing from the follicular cells.


    Dividing the total dose of radiotherapy into several smaller doses that are delivered over a period of days.

    Frozen section

    A sample of fresh tissue is quickly frozen until it is hard enough to cut into sections. These can be stained so that a rapid diagnosis can be made, for example, while a patient is under anaesthetic.

    Functioning tumour

    A type of neuroendocrine tumour that secretes hormones, which may cause symptoms.


    Gall bladder

    A small organ on the underside of the liver that stores bile. 

    Gastric juices

    Juices in the stomach that help to break down food.


    A pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour that secretes too much of the hormone gastrin.


    A doctor who specialises in diseases of the digestive system.

    Gastrointestinal (GI) tract

    The passage from the mouth to the anus that allows a person to digest food and eliminate waste.


    The microscopic units that determine how the body's cells grow and behave. Genes are found in every cell of the body and are inherited from both parents.


    The external sexual parts in men and women.

    Germ cells

    Cells that produce eggs in females and sperm in males. Germ cell cancers can occur in the ovaries or testicles.

    Gleason score

    A way of grading prostate cancer biopsies.


    A type of malignant brain tumour.


    Any tumour that starts in the connective tissue (the glia) of the nervous system.


    A pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour that secretes too much of the hormone glucagon.


    A score that describes how quickly a tumour is likely to grow (how aggressive it is).


    Healthy tissue taken from one part of the body to replace diseased or injured tissue. The transplantation may come from one part of a person's body to another, or from another person.


    A type of white blood cell. Granulocytes form in the bone marrow (myeloid tissue). They help the body to fight infection.

    Granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF)

    A protein that helps increase the bone marrow production of infection-fighting white blood cells called neutrophils.

    Gynaecological oncologist

    A gynaecologist who specialisses in treating women diagnosed with cancer of the reproductive organs.


    A doctor who specialises in treating diseases of the female reproductive system.



    A doctor who specialises in studying and treating diseases of the blood, bone marrow and lymphatic system.


    A pool of blood and serous fluid that can collect after surgery or injury. This can cause swelling and/or pain.


    Blood in the urine.

    Hair follicle

    The sac in which the hair grows in the scalp.


    The surgical removal of part of the thyroid gland. Also called a partial thyroidectomy.

    Herbal medicine

    An ancient therapy in which herbs are taken internally or applied externally to treat and prevent illness, and to strengthen the body.


    Passing from one person to another (parent to offspring) through the genes.


    The protrusion of an organ or tissue out of the body cavity in which it normally lies.

    Hickman line

    A type of central venous access device inserted into a vein in the chest.

    Hormone replacement therapy

    Drug therapy that supplies the body with hormones that it is no longer able to produce.

    Hormone resistance

    When hormone dependant cancer cells keep on growing despite the absence of that hormone.


    A place that provides comprehensive care for people with a life-limiting illness. This includes inpatient medical care, respite care and end-of-life care.

    Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

    A group of viruses that can cause infection in the skin surface of different areas of the body including the genital area. HPV may be a risk factor for some types of cancer. Also called the wart virus.


    The surgical removal of the uterus including the cervix.


    Ileal conduit

    A small passageway created from a piece of bowel and connected between the ureters and a stoma on the abdomen wall. It takes the place of the bladder, allowing urine to flow through it and the stoma into a bag on the outside of the body.


    An operation that connects the small bowel to a surgically created opening (stoma) in the abdomen.

    Immune system

    The body's natural defence system. It protects against anything it recognises as an ‘invader', for example, bacteria, viruses, transplanted organs and tissues, tumour cells and parasites.


    The prevention or treatment of disease using substances that change the immune system's response. This is a type of biological therapy.


    An artificial substitute inserted into the body to replace a part that has been damaged or removed, such as a breast. Also called an internal prosthesis.


    Inability to obtain and maintain an erection firm enough for satisfactory penetration.


    The number of new cases of a disease occurring during a given period of time (usually one year) in a specific population.


    Inability to hold or control the loss of urine or faeces.

    Inflammatory bowel disease

    A benign condition that causes inflammation of the bowel.

    Inflammatory breast cancer (carcinoma)

    A type of breast cancer that usually presents with a noticeable warmth and reddening of the breast skin. There may also be puckering of the skin and swelling of the breast.

    Inflatable tissue expander

    A balloon-like bag, placed under the skin during an operation and filled gradually by injecting with saline.

    Informed consent

    Receiving and understanding all relevant information, such as potential risks, before agreeing to a medical procedure.


    A slow injection of a substance into a vein or other tissue.


    A chemical messenger (hormone) secreted by the pancreas to regulate the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood. If the body does not produce enough insulin, diabetes will develop.


    A type of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour that secretes too much insulin.

    Integrative medicine (integrative therapies)

    The use of both evidence-based complementary therapies and conventional medicine.

    Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)

    A type of external radiotherapy in which the radiation beams are aimed from several directions, while the intensity (strength) is controlled by computers. This reduces the radiation to healthy tissues.


    A substance that occurs naturally within your body and which enhances your immune system's fight against viruses. Interferon is manufactured for use as a medication, and has shown anti-tumour activity.


    Substances introduced into the body that can help the immune system to fight cancer. Interleukins stimulate the growth of the white blood cells that can kill cancer cells. These substances can be made in a laboratory and used in immunotherapy.

    Internal radiotherapy

    A type of radiotherapy treatment that implants radioactive material sealed in needles or seeds into or near cancerous cells. Also called brachytherapy.


    See bowel.


    Injection into the abdominal cavity


    Injection into the chest cavity


    Injection into the fluid around the spine

    intravenous (IV)

    Inserted into a vein.

    Intravesical chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy that is put into the bladder through a tube. It is often used for treating non-invasive bladder cancer.

    Invasive cancer

    Cancer that has spread deep into tissues at the primary site, and/or to other parts of the body.



    A condition caused by increased
amounts of bile in the blood. This causes the skin and the whites of the eyes to turn yellow.


    One of three portions of the small bowel, below the duodenum and leading into the ileum.



    Also called sunspots, they are a sign of sun damage to the skin. They can appear as flattish scaly areas on the skin.


    A pair of organs in the abdomen that remove waste from the blood and make urine.


    Labia majora

    The outer lips of the vagina.

    Labia minora

    The inner lips of the vagina. These join at the top to cover over the clitoris.


    Surgery using a laparoscope, which is inserted into the body through a very small incision/cut. Also called keyhole surgery.


    An operation in which a long cut is made in the abdomen to examine the internal organs.


    The surgical removal of the larynx.


    A procedure that closely examines the larynx and pharynx using a laryngoscope (a tube with a light on it) or a mirror.


    The voice box. The larynx is part of the throat that contains the vocal cords and connects the pharynx with the trachea. When swallowing occurs, the larynx prevents food and drink from entering the lungs (aspiration).

    Laser surgery

    The use of a laser beam to remove tissue.

    Late effects

    Side effects of cancer treatment that occur several months or years after treatment has been completed.

    Latissimus dorsi muscle

    A broad flat muscle in the back. Can be used to reconstruct a breast.

    Lentigo maligna melanoma

    A type of cutaneous melanoma that develops in a lentigo maligna (Hutchinson's melanotic freckle).


    Any abnormality in tissues in the body


    White blood cells.


    A cancer of the white blood cells.


    Sexual desire.

    Life-limiting illness

    When an illness is unlikely to be cured and will cause death at some stage in the future. A person with a life-limiting illness may live for weeks, months or even years.

    Linear accelerator

    A machine used in external radiotherapy to treat cancer.

    Liver function test (LFT)

    A blood test that shows how well the liver is working .


    A section of an organ. For example, the left lung has two lobes and the right lung has three lobes.


    A surgical operation to remove a lobe of an organ, (e.g. lung, liver)

    Local anaesthetic

    A medication that blocks the feeling of pain in a specific location in the body.

    Localised melanoma

    A melanoma that has not spread from its starting point to other organs or lymph nodes.

    Localised prostate cancer

    Early-stage prostate cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate gland.

    Lumbar puncture

    A test in which a needle is inserted into the base of the spine to collect fluid for testing or to inject drugs for treatment.

    Lung cancer

    Cancer that starts in the lung or in the lining of the air passages leading to the lung.


    The two spongy organs in the chest cavity, made up of large numbers of tiny air sacs. The lungs are used for respiration (breathing).

    Lymph vessels

    Small thin tubes that drain the body's tissue fluid (lymph) from all over the body.


    Removal of the lymph glands from a part of the body.


    A general term for any cancer that starts in the lymphatic system.


    A procedure in which a radioactive substance is injected into the tissue near the original tumour to identify the sentinel lymph node.

    Lynch syndrome

    The common term for hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC).



    Cancer. Malignant cells can spread (metastasise) from the original site to other parts of the body.


    An X-ray of the breast. One of the tests that can be used to examine a breast lump. Screening mammograms are also used to detect early signs of breast cancer before there are any symptoms.

    Manual lymphatic drainage

    A type of specialised massage in which a trained therapist can help reduce the swelling caused by lymphoedema by manually stimulating the flow of lymph.


    A type of hands on therapy in which muscles are stimulated, stretched and relaxed through specialised pressure and strokes.


    The surgical removal of the breast.


    A surgical procedure that allows a surgeon to examine the lymph nodes at the centre of the chest and remove a sample, if necessary.


    The area in the chest between the lungs. It contains the heart and large blood vessels, the oesophagus, the trachea and many lymph nodes.

    Medical oncologist

    A doctor who specialises in treating cancer with drugs (chemotherapy).


    One of the three cells that make up the skin's epidermis layer. These cells produce melanin.


    Cancer of the melanocytes. The cancer usually appears on the skin, but may affect the nervous system, eye or mucous membranes (e.g. the lining of the mouth and nasal passages).


    A thin layer of tissue that covers a surface, lines a cavity or divides a space or organ.


    The membranes that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system).


    A type of cancer that affects the protective membrane around the internal organs (mesothelium). It often occurs in the membranes of the lungs (pleura).


    A cancer that has spread from a primary tumour in another part of the body. Also known as secondary cancer.

    Minimally invasive surgery

    A surgical technique that involves several small cuts instead of one large cut. Also called laparoscopic or keyhole sugery.

    Mohs' technique/ surgery

    A specialised surgical procedure for removing skin cancers one segment at a time until only normal cells remain.

    Mons pubis

    The triangle of tissue at the base of the belly which is covered by pubic hair.


    A strong and effective opioid painkiller that is commonly used to treat people with cancer who have pain.

    MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging

    A scan that uses magnetism and radio waves to take detailed cross-sectional pictures of the body.


    Moist tissue that lines organs of the body, such as the digestive tract, lungs and nose.

    Multileaf collimators

    Moveable pieces of metal built into the head of radiotherapy machines to shield normal tissue and organs from the radiation beam.


    A change in a gene causing it to show a new characteristic



    A small dark spot on the skin which arises from skin cells called melanocytes. Also called a mole.

    Nasal cavity

    The large, air-filled space located behind the nose and in the middle of the face.


    An internal examination of the nose and upper airways using a long, flexible tube called an endoscope


    The open cavity that lies behind the nose and above the soft palate.


    An unpleasant sensation of sickness felt in the area of the abdomen which often results in vomiting.

    Neck dissection

    Surgery to remove lymph nodes and some surrounding structures in the neck (such as muscle, fat or nerves).

    Needle core biopsy

    A procedure using a needle in which tissue is removed for examination under a microscope to diagnose a disease.

    Neo-adjuvant therapy

    Ttherapy given before the primary treatment to enhance it's effectiveness. Eg Chemotherapy before surgery.


    A new bladder formed from a section of bowel tissue.


    The field of medicine relating to the function and diseases of the kidneys. A nephrologist is a doctor who specialises in this area.

    Nervous system

    The vast network of specialised nerve cells that carry information to and from all parts of the body in order to bring about bodily activity. It includes the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), which coordinates activity, and the peripheral nervous system, which comprises all the nerves that lie outside the brain and spinal cord.

    Neuroendocrine tumour

    A type of tumour that affects the endocrine and nervous systems.


    A doctor who specialises in the structure, functioning and diseases of the nervous system (including the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves).


    A cell specialised to transmit electrical nerve impulses, carrying information from one part of the body to the other.


    A surgeon who specialises in operations on the nervous system.


    An abnormally low number of neutrophils.

    Nodular melanoma

    A type of cutaneous melanoma. Makes up about 15 per cent of melanomas.

    Non-functioning tumour

    A type of neuroendocrine tumour that does not produce hormones.

    Non-invasive bladder cancer

    Cancer confined to the lining of the bladder. Sometimes called superficial bladder cancer.

    Non-small cell lung cancer

    One of the two main groups of lung cancers. Includes squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma.



    The surgical removal of all or part of the oesophagus.


    The examination of the oesophagus with an endoscope.


    The tube that carries food from the throat into the stomach. Sometimes called the gullet.


    A surgical procedure to remove parts of the oesophagus and stomach at the same time.


    The main female sex hormone produced mostly by the ovaries.


    A type of glial cell (nerve cell).


    A type of malignant brain tumour.


    A doctor who specialises in the study and treatment of cancer.


    The study and treatment of cancer.


    an operation to remove the ovaries.


    The strongest pain relievers available. These include morphine, fentanyl, codeine, oxycodone, hydromorphone and methadone.


    Also called orchiectomy. An operation to remove one or both testicles.


    Sexual climax.


    A decrease in bone mass causing bones to become fragile. This makes them brittle and liable to break.

    Osteoradionecrosis (ORN)

    A breakdown of bone tissue due to radiotherapy treatment.


    the main female reproductive organs. They are two small glands found on either side of the uterus, close to the end of the Fallopian tubes. The ovaries release an egg about once a month in fertile women. They also produce the sex hormones, oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone.


    The release of an egg during the menstrual cycle.


    The egg produced by the ovary.


    Palliative care nurse

    A nurse who has specialised in the field of palliative care.

    Palliative care specialist (physician)

    A doctor who has specialised in the field of palliative medicine.


    An organ in the digestive system. The pancreas produces insulin and enzymes that aid digestion.

    Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour (PNET)

    A neuroendocrine tumour affecting the pancreas.

    Pancreatic oduodenectomy

    An operation to remove the head of the pancreas and surrounding structures. Also called Whipple's operation.


    Inflammation of the pancreas.

    Pap smear or Pap test

    A test that can detect changes in cervical cells. Some cells are scraped off the cervix and sent to a laboratory for examination under a microscope

    Papillary urothelial carcinoma

    A tumour that projects into the bladder.


    The drainage of excess fluid from the chest or abdomen.

    Parathyroid glands

    Four glands that sit behind the thyroid gland and produce hormones to maintain the body's calcium and phosphorus balance.


    The removal of the parathyroid glands,

    Partial mastectomy

    An operation to remove a breast cancer and a small amount of the surrounding healthy breast tissue. This is a type of breast-conserving surgery, like lumpectomy, but more of the breast is removed.

    Partial nephrectomy

    The surgical removal of part of a kidney.

    Partial vulvectomy

    The surgical removal of part of the vulva.


    A specialist doctor who interprets the results of tests (such as blood tests and biopsies).

    Patient-controlled analgesic system

    An intravenous system that allows a person to administer a dose of pain relief by pressing a button. Also known as a PCA system.


    A flap which the breast surgeon constructs during reconstructive surgery, consisting of full thickness skin and subcutaneous tissue which is attached to the body by it's blood supply.


    The lower part of the trunk of the body: roughly, the area that extends from hip to hip and waist to groin.

    Percutaneous endoscopic gastronomy (PEG) tube

    A feeding tube inserted directly into the stomach through the abdomen wall.

    Percutaneous endoscopic jejunostomy (PEJ) tube

    A feeding tube inserted through the abdomen directly into the small bowel (jejunum), bypassing the stomach.


    The area of skin between the vulva or scrotum and the anus.

    Peripheral nervous system

    The system of nerves extending outside the central nervous system, serving the limbs and organs.

    Peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC)

    A type of central venous access device that is inserted into a vein in the arm. A catheter that is inserted into the arm for long-term use to deliver intravenous medications.


    Muscle contractions that move food into the stomach.


    The lining of the abdomen.

    PET scan

    A positron emission tomography scan. A specialised imaging test that uses a radioactive glucose solution to identify cancer cells in the body.

    Peyronie's disease

    Pain in the penis as it becomes erect. The penis may develop a curve with erection.

    Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)

    A government-funded scheme that subsidises some prescription medicines.


    The surgical removal of part or all of the pharynx


    The throat. This is a muscular tube about 10 centimetres long that extends from the back of the nose to the top of the larynx and oesophagus.

    Photodynamic therapy (PDT)

    A type of treatment using a cream that is activated by a light.

    Pituitary gland

    An endocrine gland that produces a type of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).

    Pituitary tumour

    A type of benign brain tumour.


    A dummy pill or injection, which looks like the new treatment being tested in a clinical trial but contains no active ingredient.


    The clear fluid part of the blood that carries blood cells.

    Plasma cells

    A type of white blood cell that stays mostly in the bone marrow. Plasma cells make antibodies. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells.

    Plastic surgeon

    A medical practitioner who has had advanced surgical training in the restoration of skin and tissue to near normal appearance and function.


    One of three types of cells found in the blood. These help the blood to clot and stop bleeding. Also called thrombocytes.


    Membranes that line the chest wall and cover the lungs.

    Pleural cavity

    The space that lies between the two layers of the pleura (lungs) and normally contains a thin film of fluid.

    Pleural effusion

    An abnormal build-up of fluid in the pleural cavity (lung area).

    Pleural tap

    See thoracentesis.


    An injection between the layers of the lung tissue (pleura). This injection creates an inflammation that closes the space between the pleura. This prevents accumulation of fluid.


    A surgical operation to remove a lung.


    A projecting growth from a surface in the body, such as the large bowel. Most polyps are benign, but they can become malignant.


    The surgical removal of a polyp.


    A term used to describe a condition that may or is likely to become a cancer.

    Premature ejaculation

    Ejaculating sooner than you want to.

    Premature menopause

    Menopause that occurs before the age of 40.

    Primary site

    The part of the body where the cancer first develops.


    The surgical removal of the entire colon and rectum.


    Female sex hormone produced mostly by the ovaries.


    The likely outcome of a person's disease.


    A gland about the size of a walnut located under the bladder and found only in men. It produces part of the fluid that makes up semen.


    An operation to remove all or part of the prostate.


    An artificial replacement for a lost body part.


    A part of food that is essential for the body to repair itself and build muscle.

    Pulmonary Function Tests

    Tests that measure the amount of air moving in and out of the lungs during breathing, and evaluate the person's ability to get oxygen from the air into the blood. The tests can also indicate whether there is an obstruction in the air passages. Also called lung function tests.


    Quality of life

    Your comfort and satisfaction, based on how well your physical, emotional, spiritual, sexual, social and financial needs are met within the limitations of your illness.



    Energy in the form of waves or particles, including gamma rays, x-rays and ultraviolet (UV) rays. This energy is harmful to cells and is used in radiotherapy to destroy cancer cells.

    Radiation oncologist

    A doctor who specialises in treating cancer with radiotherapy.

    Radiation therapist

    A health professional who is trained to plan and deliver radiotherapy.

    Radical local excision

    An operation that removes the cancer and a larger area of normal tissue all around the cancer.

    Radical nephrectomy

    An operation to remove the entire kidney. The adrenal gland, surrounding fatty tissue and nearby lymph nodes are sometimes removed during this procedure.

    Radical prostatectomy

    An operation to remove the entire prostate and some of the tissue around it.

    Radical vulvectomy

    An operation that removes the entire vulva, including the clitoris, and usually the surrounding lymph nodes.

    Radioactive iodine ablation

    Receiving radioactive iodine after a thyroid operation in order to destroy any normal or cancerous tissue left behind by surgery. Also called thyroid ablation.

    Radioactive iodine therapy

    Treatment that is intended to destroy thyroid cancer cells in the body.


    A doctor who specialises in the use and interpretation of X-rays and other imaging devices (e.g.CT scans) in diagnosing disorders and diseases.

    Radiotherapy/radiation therapy

    The use of radiation, usually x-rays, or gamma rays, to kill cancer cells or damage them so they cannot continue to grow and multiply.

    Randomised controlled trial

    A clinical trial in which participants are randomly allocated to receive the new treatment or the standard treatment (the control).

    Reconstructive surgeon

    A doctor who can surgically reshape or rebuild a part of the body. Also known as plastic surgeon.


    The last 15 to 20 centimetres of the large bowel, which stores stools until a bowel movement.

    Rectus abdominis muscle

    One of the two large flat stomach muscles. Can be used to reconstruct a breast.

    Red blood cells

    One of three types of cells found in the blood. They carry oxygen around the body. Also called erythrocytes.

    Registration board

    A board authorised by the government to oversee the registration and professional standards of health care providers.


    A program that helps a person recover from illness or injury and regain function.


    The return of a disease after a period of improvement.


    When the symptoms of the cancer reduce or disappear. A partial remission is when there has been a significant improvement in the cancer. A complete remission is when there is no evidence of active cancer.

    Renal cell carcinoma

    The most common form of kidney cancer.

    Renal sarcoma

    A rare form of cancer that affects the connective tissues of the kidney.


    Able to be surgically removed.


    Surgical removal of a portion of any part of the body.

    Respite care

    Alternative care arrangements that allow the carer and person with cancer a short break from their usual care arrangements.

    Retrograde ejaculation

    During ejaculation the sperm travels backwards into the bladder instead of forwards out of the penis.

    Retroperitoneal node

    Lymph node in the area outside or behind the peritoneum (the tissue that lines the abdominal wall and covers most of the organs in the abdomen).



    Also called spit. The watery substance released into the mouth from the salivary glands.

    Salivary glands

    Glands that release saliva into the mouth

    Salvage treatment

    Different treatments used when prostate cancer has returned soon after the original cancer treatment has finished.


    A malignant tumour that starts in connective tissue.

    Scientific evidence

    Rigorous testing to prove something works or does not work. Clinical trials are a form of scientific evidence.


    A scanning method that uses
a radioactive substance to
locate tumours in the body.
e.g. a PET (positron emission tomography) scan.


    The external pouch of skin behind the penis containing the testes.

    Second opinion

    Talking to another doctor to consider other treatment options or to confirm a recommended course of treatment.

    Secondary cancer

    A cancer that has spread from the original site to another part of the body.


    A disruption of the normal electrical impulses of the brain, causing a person to convulse or have other symptoms.

    Selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT)

    A type of internal radiotherapy used to treat liver tumours.


    The fluid containing sperm from the testicles and secretions from the seminal vesicles, prostate and bulbourethral glands. Semen is ejaculated from the penis during sexual climax.

    Seminal vesicles

    Glands that lie very close to the prostate and produce secretions that form part of the semen.

    Sentinel node

    The first lymph node to receive lymph fluid from a tumour.

    Side effect

    Unintended effect of a drug or treatment.

    Sigmoid colectomy

    A type of colectomy where the sigmoid colon (part of the bowel) is removed.

    Sigmoid colon

    The section of the colon (bowel) after the descending colon and before the rectum and anus.


    An examination of the rectum and lower colon. In this procedure, a doctor inserts a sigmoidoscope into the anus.


    A machine that takes x-rays to pinpoint where radiotherapy should be targeted.


    Radioactive pellets that are inserted into the liver in selective internal radiation therapy.

    Skin cancer

    There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma (BCC). Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and melanoma. All start in different layers of the skin.

    Skin graft

    A shaving of skin moved from one part of the body to another to cover a wound.

    Small bowel

    Part of the lower gastro-intestinal tract between the stomach and the colon

    Small intestine

    The part of the gastrointestinal tract between the stomach and the colon.


    A type of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour that secretes too much of the hormone somatostatin.


    The male sex cell, which is made in the testes.

    Spermatic cord

    A vessel that runs from the testis to the penis. The spermatic cord contains the tube that carries sperm, blood vessels, nerves and lymph vessels.


    Strong muscles that form a valve. e.g. the urethral sphincter helps control the release of urine from the body.

    Spinal cord

    The portion of the central nervous system enclosed in the spinal column, consisting of nerve cells and bundles of nerves connecting all parts of the body with the brain.


    An organ in the lymphatic system located on the left side of the abdomen under the ribs. The spleen produces lymphocytes, filters the blood, stores blood cells, and destroys old blood cells.


    Mucous coughed up from the lungs. Also known as phlegm.

    Sputum cytology test

    Examination of sputum under a microscope to look for cancer or abnormal cells.

    Squamous cell

    One of the three types of cells that make up the skin's epidermis (top) layer.


    The extent of a cancer and whether it has spread from an original site to other parts of the body.


    Tests to find out how far the cancer has spread.

    Standard treatment

    The best treatment currently known for a cancer, based on results of past research.

    Stem cell transplant

    A method of replacing early-stage blood cells destroyed by cancer treatment. The stem cells are given to people after treatment to help the bone marrow recover and continue producing healthy blood cells.

    Stem cells

    Early-stage cells from which mature cells develop. Stem cells are found in the bone marrow.


    A tube made of metal or plastic that is inserted into a vessel or passage to keep it open.


    A surgically created opening that connects an organ, such as the trachea or bowel, to the outside of the body. It is named based on the part of the body that is affected -€“ for example, a stoma that allows urine to drain outside the abdomen is a urostomy.


    Part of the digestive tract; a sac-like structure just below the diaphragm. When food is swallowed it passes first to the stomach where the gastric juices start to digest it.

    Stomal therapy nurse

    A registered nurse specialising in caring for people with stomas.


    Also called faeces. Waste matter (excrement) discharged from the bowel through the anus (bowel movement).


    Beneath the skin.

    Subcutaneous mastectomy

    Fatty and glandular tissues are removed, leaving the skin and nipple intact for the insertion of an implant.

    Subtotal colectomy

    Surgery that removes most of the large bowel.

    Subtotal gastrectomy

    The surgical removal of part of the stomach.

    Superficial skin cancer

    Cancer that only affects cells in the top layer of the skin on the surface. Not invasive.

    Supportive care

    Care that extends beyond treating the actual cancer. It covers wider issues that occur due to cancer and includes counselling, practical assistance, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, spiritual care and complementary therapies.

    Surgical oncologist

    A doctor who specialises in the surgical treatment of cancer.


    Changes in the body that are felt or seen by the patient that indicates that there is something wrong e.g. pain, headache etc.

    Systemic chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy drugs that are given orally or by injection or infusion.



    A type of white blood cell that develops in the thymus.

    Tai chi

    An active exercise technique in traditional Chinese medicine that incorporates movement, breathing techniques and meditation to create stability in the body.


    A drug that blocks the effects of oestrogen in cancer cells and treats oestrogen-receptive and progesterone-receptive cancers.

    Targeted therapy

    Treatment that attacks specific weaknesses of cancer cells while minimising harm to healthy cells. Two types of targeted therapies are small molecule drugs and immunotherapies.

    Terminal illness

    An illness that is unlikely to be cured and will result in a person's death some time in the future. It may also be called a life-limiting illness.

    Terminal stage

    When a person who has an incurable disease is showing signs and symptoms that suggest their death is imminent.


    Two egg-shaped glands that produce sperm and the male sex hormone, testosterone. They are found in the scrotum. Also called testicles.


    The major male sex hormone produced by the testes. It promotes the development of male sex characteristics.


    Another word for treatment.


    A procedure in which doctors insert a hollow needle between the ribs in order to drain excess fluid. Also called a pleural tap.


    A type of surgery. The surgeon opens the chest cavity through a cut on the back and examines, biopsies and/or removes the tumour and/or tissue.

    Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT)

    A type of external radiotherapy that uses computers to precisely map the location of the cancer within the body.


    A butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located at the base of the neck. The thyroid releases hormones to control the body's metabolism and calcium levels.

    Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)

    A hormone that prompts the thyroid gland to produce and release other hormones (thyroxine and tri-idothyronine). The pituitary and hypothalamus glands are responsible for TSH production.


    The surgical removal of the thyroid gland. Also called a total thyroidectomy.

    Thyroxine (T4)

    A hormone produced by the thyroid gland that regulates the body's metabolism. T4 can be converted into a hormone called tri-idothyronine (T3).


    A collection of cells with a specific function that make up a part of the body.

    Tissue Expander

    A device that may be used to increase the amount of tissue e.g. in breast reconstruction after mastectomy if a woman does not have quite enough skin left to cover a breast implant.

    TNM system

    A type of staging system detailing the extent that the cancer has spread. T stands for tumour, N for lymph nodes and M for metastasis.

    Topical chemotherapy

    Treatment with a drug that is applied to an area of your skin, rather than being given by injection or tablet.

    Total colectomy

    Surgery that removes the entire large bowel.

    Total gastrectomy

    The surgical removal of the stomach.


    The windpipe. The trachea is the airway that brings air inhaled from the nose and mouth into the lungs.

    TRAM flap

    Transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous flap used in surgery to reconstruct a breast using abdominal muscle..


    A small device used in an ultrasound. It can be passed over the surface of the body or inserted into an opening like the vagina or rectum.

    Transitional cells

    A type of cell lining many organs, including the bladder.

    Transurethral resection of bladder tumour (TURBT)

    The most common type of surgery for non-invasive bladder cancer.
A cystoscope is used to remove the tumour through the urethra.

    transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP)

    A surgical procedure to remove tissue from the prostate that is restricting urinary flow.

    Transverse colectomy

    A type of colectomy where tissue is removed from the middle of the colon.

    Transverse colon

    The section of the colon between the ascending and descending colon.


    A new or abnormal growth of tissue on or in the body.

    Tumour markers

    Chemicals produced by cancer cells and released into the blood. These may suggest the presence of a tumour in the body.


    Ulcerative colitis

    A benign type of inflammatory bowel disease that may increase a person's risk of developing bowel cancer.


    A small wound in skin or lining of mouth or stomach.


    A non-invasive scan that uses soundwaves to create a picture of part of the body. An ultrasound scan can be used to measure the size and position of a tumour.

    Ultraviolet (UV) radiation

    The part of sunlight that causes sunburn and skin damage. It is also produced by solariums, tanning lamps and sunbeds. UV radiation cannot be seen or felt.

    Unregistered health practitioner

    A health care provider who doesn't need to be registered with a government registration board but can practise in their field as long as they meet professional requirements.


    The tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.


    The tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. In men, it carries semen from the testes to the outside of the body via the penis.

    Urinary system

    Includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra.The body's system for removing waste and expelling it from the body in urine.


    Liquid waste filtered by the kidneys, stored in the bladder and eliminated from the body.


    A surgeon who specialises in treating diseases of the urinary system and the sex organs in men.


    A surgically created opening (stoma) from inside the body to the outside, to create a new way to pass urine.

    Urothelial carcinoma

    Tumours that start growing in the urothelium (mucous membrane) of the bladder. Previously called transitional cell carcinoma.


    The membrane lining the bladder.

    Uterine sarcoma

    A cancer affecting the smooth muscle of the uterus or the stroma (connective tissue around the lining of the uterus).


    Also called the womb. It is a hollow muscular organ shaped like an upside-down pear and located between the bladder and the bowel. It holds and nourishes a fertilised egg and pushes out the baby during childbirth.

    UV Index

    A measure of the intensity of the sun's ultraviolet radiation.


    Forms of ultraviolet radiation



    A substance given to stimulate the body's production of antibodies and provide immunity against a disease.


    A muscular passage that extends from the entrance of the uterus to the outer sex organs.

    Vaginal stenosis

    Shortening and narrowing of the vagina.


    An operation that removes all of the vagina.


    A spasm in the vaginal or pelvic muscles that may prevent sexual intercourse.

    Vas deferens

    Tube that carries the sperm from the testes to the prostate.


    A blood vessel that takes blood towards the heart.

    Venous access device

    A catheter or other intravenous device surgically placed under the skin to provide access to veins.

    Verrucous carcinoma

    A rare, slow-growing type of vulvar cancer, which looks like a large wart.


    A type of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour that produces a hormone-like substance called vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP).

    Virtual colonoscopy

    The medical imaging procedure that uses a CT or MRI scanner to create images of the colon and rectum and display them on a screen.


    Essential substances found in food and needed by the body to burn energy, repair tissue, assist metabolism and fight infections.

    Vocal cords

    The part of the larynx that vibrates to produce the sounds required for speech. Also called the glottis.


    The ejection of the stomach contents through the mouth.


    The outer sex organs in women. They include the mons pubis, labia majora, labia minora and the clitoris.

    Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN)

    A pre-cancerous condition that occurs in the skin of the vulva and can develop into vulvar cancer if left untreated.


    Watchful waiting

    See active surveillance.

    Wedge resection

    Surgery to remove part of an organ.

    Whipple's procedure

    An operation to remove the head of the pancreas and surrounding structures. Also called a Whipple's operation, Whipple's surgery or pancreatic oduodenectomy.

    White blood cells

    One of three types of cells found in the blood including neutrophils, lymphocytes and monocytes. They help fight infection.

    Wide local excision

    A surgical procedure to remove a cancer or tissue with a margin of healthy tissue around it.


    Also called the uterus. It is a hollow muscular organ shaped like an upside-down pear and located between the bladder and the bowel. It holds and nourishes a fertilised egg and pushes out the baby during childbirth.