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Let's Conquer Cancer Glossary

Alpha-feto protein (AFP)

AFP is an antigen normally produced in the foetus during its development. It can also be produced in the foetal liver that can appear in certain diseases of adults, such as liver cancer. High levels of AFP in an adult usually indicates testicular cancer or liver cancer.

Angiography
An x-ray of blood vessels injected with dye. An angiography is a diagnostic test in which a radiopaque dye is injected into the bloodstream and x-rays are then taken. The dye makes the blood vessels show up on the x-rays, and any abnormal vessels can be seen. The x-ray is called an angiogram, or sometimes an arteriogram.

Benign
Not cancerous. Benign tumours generally do not spread to tissues around them or to other parts of the body.

Colitis
Inflammation of the colon.

Cryosurgery
A procedure using freezing temperature to destroy abnormal tissues.

Cystoscopy
An examination of the bladder and urethra using a thin, lighted instrument (called a cystoscope) inserted into the urethra. Tissue samples can be removed and examined under a microscope.

Faecal Occult Blood
A test to check for blood in stool. (Faecal refers to stool; occult means hidden.)

Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA)
The removal of tissue or fl uid with a syringe and needle. This procedure is sometimes called a needle biopsy. Samples are examined under a microscope.

Gastrectomy
An operation to remove all or part of the stomach.

Genetic Risk
Women who are proven BRCA mutation carriers, untested first-degree relatives of known BRCA mutation carriers and those with strong family history and estimated to have at least 20-25 per cent lifetime breast cancer risk by risk assessment models are considered to have genetic risk for developing breast cancer. These women have 5-10 increased risk of breast cancer compared to women without these risk factors. They frequently present before the age of 40.

Hysterectomy
A surgery to remove the uterus and sometimes, the cervix. When the uterus and part or all of the cervix are removed, it is called a total hysterectomy. When only the uterus is removed, it is called a partial hysterectomy.

Laparoscopy
The insertion of a thin, lighted tube (called a laparoscope) through the abdominal wall to inspect the inside of the abdomen and to remove tissue samples.

Laser Vaporisation
A laser beam is used to destroy the abnormal cells on the cervix as well as some skin cancers. The treatment is very eff ective and the healing is excellent.

Loop Electro-Excision Procedure (LEEP)
This is a procedure to remove a pre-cancer on the cervix in the prevention of cancer development. It is performed on an outpatient basis under local anaesthetic. This procedure has emerged as one of the most cost-effective ways of treating cervical pre-cancers in the prevention of cervical cancer.

Lumpectomy
A surgery to remove the tumour and a small amount of normal tissue around it, particularly in relation to breast cancer.

Lymph Nodes
Small bean-shaped structures scattered along the lymphatic vessels, particularly in the neck, armpit and groin. They filter the lymph to remove bacteria and other harmful agents to prevent them from entering the bloodstream.

Malignant
Means cancerous. Malignant tumours can invade and destroy nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body.

Mastectomy
The surgical removal of the breast.

Pap Smear
A Pap smear is a microscopic examination of cells scraped from the cervix. It is done to detect cancerous or precancerous conditions of the cervix

Polyps
A growth that protrudes from a mucous membrane.

Sigmoidoscopy
Inspection of the lower colon using a thin, lighted tube called a sigmoidoscope. Samples of tissue or cells may be collected for examination under a microscope. Also called proctosigmoidoscopy.

Wedge resection
A surgical procedure to remove a triangle-shaped slice of tissue. It may be used to remove tumours and a small amount of normal tissue around it.