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Glossary of Terms

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There are currently 35 names in this directory beginning with the letter C.
CA 19-9 (cancer antigen 19-9)
A protein on the surface of certain types of cells that is shed by tumor cells into the bloodstream; higher-than-normal amounts of CA 19-9 in the blood can sometimes be a sign of colorectal or pancreatic cancer. In pancreatic cancer patients, higher levels of CA 19-9 tend to be associated with more advanced disease. Noncancerous conditions that may elevate CA 19-9 levels include gallstones, pancreatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, and cholecystitis. Not all pancreatic cancer patients have elevated levels of CA 19-9.
Cachexia
A condition causing weight loss and muscle wasting that occurs in advanced cancer, among other diseases.
Cancer
Any of a group of diseases in which the cells are abnormal, grow out of control, and can spread.
Cancer screening
The use of tests to find cancer before signs of cancer appear.
Cancer stage
See Clinical stage, Staging cancer, and Stage.
Cancer stem cells
Subpopulation of cancer cells believed to be responsible for starting and maintaining the cancer.
Capecitabine (Xeloda)
One of the approved chemotherapy drugs for pancreatic cancer, it gets metabolized into 5-FU; in either form the drug disrupts the cell replication cycle.
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA)
A protein that may sometimes be found in the blood of people who have certain types of cancers, and not usually found in healthy persons.
Carcinogen
Cancer-causing agent.
Carcinoma
Cancer that starts in cells that form the lining of structures of the body.
Carcinoma in situ
Abnormal or cancer cells that have not grown into the next layer of tissue.
Caregivers
Persons who provide help with daily activities, coordinate healthcare and other services, and provide emotional and other types of support for patients.
Catheter
A flexible tube used to deliver fluids into, or withdraw fluids out of, the body.
Celiac artery
Supplies oxygenated blood to the stomach, liver, spleen, and parts of the esophagus, duodenum, and pancreas. Also known as the celiac axis.
Celiac plexus
Complex network of nerves in the abdomen.
Celiac plexus block
Injections of pain medications given to relieve abdominal pain, often used in cancer treatment or chronic pancreatitis. The pain is believed to be caused by irritation of the celiac plexus, a network of nerves surrounding the aorta.
Chemo brain
A problem with thinking and memory that can happen during and especially after chemotherapy treatment for cancer. Also known as chemo fog.
Chemoradiation
Radiation therapy used in combination with chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy
Use of drugs to kill cancer cells.
Chemotherapy cycle
Days of treatment followed by days of rest.
Chemotherapy sensitivity testing
Pre-testing chemotherapies to determine which drugs are most effective against a cancer before undergoing a complete course of therapy.
Chiropractic
A health profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mechanical disorders of the muscles and bones, and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health; it emphasizes manual treatments, including spinal manipulation.
Chronic pain
Pain that occurs over a long period of time that may range from mild to severe.
Chronic pancreatitis
Condition in which inflammation irreversibly damages the pancreas; or chronic damage with persistent pain or malabsorption.
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs)
Cells may shed from tumors and be found in small numbers in the bloodstream of certain cancer patients. These cells are known as circulating tumor cells (CTCs). CTCs are considered to be the source of cells that spread and form metastases in other organs.
Cisplatin
One of the approved chemotherapy drugs for pancreatic cancer, it is a platinum-based drug that disrupts DNA and kills cancer cells.
Clinical stage
The rating of the extent of cancer based on tests before treatment. (See also Stage and Staging cancer.)
Clinical trial
The study of a drug, procedure, or medical device to determine its safety and effectiveness in people; there are many types of clinical trials used to find better ways to prevent, screen for, diagnose, and treat disease, and to improve quality of life. (See also Phases of clinical trials.)
Coexisting condition
Occurring at the same time but independent of another condition or illness.
Complementary therapy
Treatment methods added to conventional or traditional therapy.
Computed tomography (CT) scan
Medical imaging test in which a scanner takes detailed, cross-sectional, X-ray images from many different angles that are combined by a computer.
Constipation
A condition of the digestive system in which a person experiences hard stools that are difficult to eliminate; constipation may be painful and, in severe cases, may lead to a blockage of the bowel.
Contrast agent
A dye or other compound injected into the body to make specific tissue more visible during diagnostic imaging.
Coping
How people or family members come to terms with an illness, make decisions, solve problems, and adapt to life’s changes, while still feeling good about themselves.
Curative treatment
Treatment used to fully rid the body of a disease.
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