Childhood Cancer
Glossary

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Clinical Terms

Cancer - a groups of more than 100 diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells.

Carcinoma - cancer of the epithelium. Epithelial cells cover or line the internal organs, body surface, internal cavities and form glands.

Central Nervous System (CNS) - the brain and spinal cord.

Histology - microscopic identification of cells and tissue.

Lymphoma - cancer of the lymphoid organs, such as the lymph nodes, spleen and thymus, which produce and store infection-fighting cells. These cells also occur in almost all tissues of the body, and lymphomas therefore may develop in a wide variety of organs.

Malignant - rapid growing; ability to invade and spread.

Metastasis - site in the body where cancer spread to from the primary cancer. This could be a spread to an adjacent organ or to an organ unconnected to the primary site.

Primary Site or Primary Cancer - the site in the body where cancer began. It is possible to have more than one primary cancer or multple primary cancers at the same site.

Risk Factor - anything that increases a person's chance of getting a disease such as cancer.

Sarcoma - a cancer of connective tissue such as bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, nerve sheath, or blood vessels.

Soft tissue sarcoma - sarcomas in the soft tissue constitute a heterogeneous group of malignant tumors that share common a common origin in mesenchymal (tissues developed in the early stages of life) tissue.

Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) - the part of the nervous system that controls the vital functions of the body that are not consciously regulated. It includes the activity of the heart, the smooth muscles (such as digestive muscles), and glands.

Tumor or Neoplasm - an abnormal growth of tisue; tumors can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).

Epidemiological Terms

Age-adjusted incidence rate - a summary incidence rate that takes into account the age distribution of the population. This is routinely done so that comparisons can be made from year to year and from one population to another. Age-adjustment also enables comparisons among geographic areas. There are several methods to age-adjust; direct standardization is the method most commonly used. With this method the age-specific incidence rates of the population of interest (e.g. New Jersey) are applied to a standard population (e.g. 1970 U.S. population).

Age-specific incidence rate - the number of newly diagnosed cases of a disease in a specific age group in a specific population over a specific time period per "x" number of people in the specific age group; usually five-year age groups (0-4, 5-9, 10-14, etc.); usually the time period is one year and "x" number of people in the specific age group is 100,000.

Age standardization (or age-adjustment) - the statistical adjustment of crude rates for differences in age distributions in order to compare rates in different populations; there are two types of standardization, direct and indirect.

Epidemiology - the study of the patterns of the occurrence of disease in human populations and the factors that influence these patterns.

Incidence - the number of newly diagnosed cases of a disease occurring in a specific population during a specific time period.

Incidence rate (or crude incidence rate) - the number of newly diagnosed cases of disease in a specific population during a specific time period per "x" number of people; usually the time period is one year and "x" number of people is 100,000.

Mortality - the number of deaths due to a disease in a specific population over a specific time period.

Mortality rate, age-specific mortality rate, age-adjusted mortality rate - analogous to the incidence rate, age-specific incidence rate, and age-adjusted incidence rate, except deaths rather than newly diagnosed cases are in the numerator. The rate is usually expressed as per 100,000 population.

Genetic Syndromes

Beckwith-Weidman Syndrome - rare syndrome typically characterized by enlarged body, tongue and abdomen, a hole in the abdominal wall and underdevelopment in the face.

Down Syndrome - This chromosomal disorder has an incidence of 1 in 660 newborns, making it one of the most common genetic syndromes. It is generally characterized by relatively small stature, mental deficiency, and various facial and other abnormalities.

Drash Syndrome - rare condition characterized by Wilms' tumor, inflammation or breakdown of the kidney, and genital abnormalities.

Li-Fraumeni Family Cancer Syndrome - characterized by having two or more first degree relatives (brother, sister, parent or child) with any of the following: sarcomas; breast, bone, and brain tumors; lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, and leukemia.

Neurofibromatosis Syndrome - rare condition with many fiberlike growths (neurofibromas) of the nerves, skin, and other organs, and light brown ("café au lait") spots on the skin. In addition, there may be defects of the muscles, bones, and abdominal organs.

Perlman Syndrome - rare condition manifested by large birth size, kidney abnormalities, enlarged pancreatic cells, and unusual facial appearance.


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