Glossary

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Adjuvant treatment

Adjuvant treatment is given in addition to the primary, main, or initial therapy in order to maximize its effectiveness. For example, an adjuvant treatment is usually offered after surgery where all detectable disease has been removed, but where there remains a risk of relapse due to tiny amounts of the disease being hidden or spread below the level of detection.

Biopsy

For most types of cancer, a biopsy is the main way doctors diagnose cancer. A biopsy is the removal of a small amount of tissue for examination under a microscope. Other tests can suggest that cancer is present, but only a biopsy can make a definite diagnosis.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a type of treatment for cancer that uses medicines to destroy the cancerous cells in your body. It's used in a variety of ways, depending on the type of cancer you have, how advanced the cancer is, and your general health.

Clinical staging

Clinical staging is the stage given to your cancer based on what the doctor knows about the cancer before surgery. The stage is based on clinical information from examining you and looking at your test results.

Clinical trial

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. These studies may also show which medical approaches work best for certain illnesses or groups of people.

Cutaneous melanoma

Cutaneous melanoma is a cancer of the pigment cells of the skin and is the most common type of melanoma.  If it is treated early, the outlook is usually good.

Dermatologist

A dermatologist is a medical expert who specialises in preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases and concerns of the skin, hair and nails.

Histological diagnosis

A histological diagnosis is when a pathologist diagnoses a person’s cancer through close examination of samples of their tissue. It will involve looking at the tissue under a microscope and also possible special newer molecular tests too.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy usually refers to treatments that stimulate or restore the ability of the body's immune system to fight diseases such as melanoma.

Intralesional injection

This involves injecting directly into a cancerous lesion.

Intramuscular injection

An Intramuscular injection is the injection of a substance directly into a muscle.

In-transit metastasis

A type of metastasis in which skin cancer spreads through a lymph vessel under the skin and begins to grow more than 2 centimetres away from the primary tumour but before it reaches the nearest lymph node.

Lesions

A lesion is a region in an organ or tissue that has suffered damage through injury or disease, such as a wound, ulcer, abscess, or tumour.

Local anaesthetic

Local anaesthetic is a type of medication that can be used to treat painful conditions, prevent pain during a procedure or operation, or relieve pain after surgery.

Local excision

Local excision is where an abnormal mole or area of skin will be removed (‘excised’), and sent to a laboratory to be tested to see whether it is cancerous. Local excision is a relatively simple operation performed under local anaesthetic.

Multidisciplinary Team (MDT)

An MDT is a group of health professionals from a range of backgrounds with different specialised skills and knowledge. A patient will be designated an MDT if their condition requires the care of more than one kind of professional and the MDT will meet on a regular basis to make decisions about that individual’s treatment and care.

Lymphoedema

Lymphoedema is the build-up of fluid in soft body tissues when the lymph system is damaged or blocked, and occurs when lymph is not able to flow through the body the way that it should.

Lymph Node

A lymph node is an oval or kidney-shaped organ of the lymphatic system, distributed widely throughout the body and linked by lymphatic vessels. Lymph nodes are important for the proper functioning of the immune system, acting as filters for foreign particles and cancer cells.

Melanocytes

Melanocytes are cells that produce melanin, a dark pigment primarily responsible for the coloration of skin, but is also found in hair and eyes.

Mucosal melanoma

Mucosal melanoma is a rare form of melanoma, making up only about 1% of melanoma cases. As with other areas of the skin, melanocytes, the pigment producing cells of the body, are also present in the mucosal surfaces of the body. Just like melanocytes in other parts of the body, these can transform into cancerous cells, resulting in mucosal melanoma.

Oncologist

An oncologist is a doctor who deals with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Ocular melanoma

Ocular melanoma (melanoma in or around the eye) is a type of cancer that develops in the cells that produce pigment — the substance that gives your skin, hair and eyes colour. Just as you can develop melanoma on your skin, you can also develop it in your eye.

Pathological clinical staging

Pathological staging is the stage given to your cancer based on examining cancer cells in a laboratory after you have had surgery to remove the cancer.

Placebo

A placebo is a simulated or otherwise medically ineffectual treatment for a disease or other medical condition intended to deceive the recipient. Sometimes patients given a placebo treatment will have a perceived or actual improvement in a medical condition, a phenomenon commonly called the placebo effect or placebo response.

Prognosis

A prognosis is the doctor's best estimate of how cancer will affect someone. Many factors can affect a person's prognosis. Survival statistics are one tool that doctors use to develop a prognosis for a person with cancer.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy or radiation therapy, often abbreviated RT, RTx, or XRT, is therapy using ionizing radiation, generally as part of cancer treatment to control or kill malignant cells. Radiation therapy may be curative in a number of types of cancer if they are localised to one area of the body.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy

A sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is a procedure in which a lymph node is identified, removed, and examined to determine whether cancer cells have spread beyond the original tumour. It is identified as being the node most likely to have been involved with the cancer.

Side effects

Side effects are physical or mental changes that occur when treatment goes beyond the desired effect, or problems that occur in addition to the desired therapeutic effect.

Skin graft

A skin graft is a surgical operation in which a piece of healthy skin is taken from one area of a patient’s body in order to replace another damaged area.

Subcutaneous injection

A subcutaneous injection is administered as a bolus into the layer of skin directly below the very top layer but above the fat and muscle.

Staging

Cancer staging is the process of determining the extent to which a cancer has developed by spreading.

Stage

The stage of a cancer describes the size of a tumour and how far it has spread from where it originated.

Tumour

Tumours are cancerous growths caused by an abnormal growth of tissue.

Ulcerated melanoma

An ulcerated melanoma is when a tumour growing under the skin breaks through the skin’s surface and this is diagnosed under the microscope by the pathologist.

Wide local excision

A wide local excision involves removing a further margin of skin around the area where the original melanoma was removed. The purpose of this further surgery is to try and make sure that no cancer cells
are left behind in the nearby skin.

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