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Glossary of Terms

All | # 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
There are 27 names in this directory beginning with the letter A.
Abdomen
The belly; the part of the body that contains all of the structures between the chest and pelvis.
Abraxane (paclitaxel)
One of the approved chemotherapy drugs for pancreatic cancer, it inhibits cell division and promotes cell death. It is often given with gemcitabine.
Acinar cells
Special cells in the pancreas that produce digestive enzymes.
Acquired mutations
Genetic changes that develop during a person’s lifetime, either as a random error made in DNA copying or as a result of harmful environmental factors.
Acupuncture
Practice of inserting needles through the skin into specific points on the body to reduce pain or induce anesthesia.
Acute pain
Sudden, short-lived pain that subsides when healing occurs.
Adenocarcinoma
Cancer that begins with cells that line certain internal organs and have gland-like properties.
Adjuvant drug
A drug that, when added to another drug speeds or improves its effect.
Adjuvant therapy
A treatment given after surgery.
Advance directives
Documents involved in a patient’s healthcare that allow others to know which types of care that patient wants and does not want, or to determine who will make medical decisions if the patient cannot do so.
Afinitor (everolimus)
An approved antineoplastic chemotherapy drug used to treat pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.
Alcohol nerve block
Procedure in which a local anesthetic is injected into the nerve root of the celiac plexus using guidance by ultrasonography or computed tomography to produce numbness or reduce pain.
Alternative therapies
Treatments that have not been scientifically tested and are used in place of traditional therapies. (See also Unconventional therapy.)
Ampulla of Vater
Enlargement of the ducts from the liver and pancreas at the point where they enter the small intestine; bile from the liver and secretions from the pancreas come through the Ampulla of Vater to mix with food in the duodenum and aid digestion.
Analgesic
A drug that reduces pain: acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin are analgesics.
Anemia
The condition of having a lower-than-normal number of red blood cells or quantity of hemoglobin. Anemia diminishes the capacity of the blood to carry oxygen.
Angiogenesis
Formation of new blood vessels; some cancer treatments work by blocking angiogenesis, called antiangiogenesis, with the goal of slowing or preventing tumor growth.
Anorexia
A condition marked by a diminished appetite and aversion to food. Patients with advanced cancer may have anorexia-related weight loss, or wasting.
Antibody
Proteins in the plasma and serum of the immune system that help the body fight infections. Also called immunoglobulin.
Anticoagulant
A drug that thins the blood to reduce the risk of blood clots.
Anticonvulsants
Drugs used to prevent or treat seizures; they may also be used to enhance the effect of pain medications.
Antidepressants
Drugs used to treat depression; they may also be used to enhance the effect of pain medications.
Antiemetics
Drugs that help to prevent and control nausea and vomiting.
Antimetabolite
A cancer drug that prevents the "building blocks" of the genetic code from being used.
Antioxidants
Human-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage.
Ascites
Abnormal buildup of fluid in the belly area (abdomen) or pelvis.
Asymptomatic
Having no signs or symptoms of disease.
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