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Glossary of Terms

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Palliative treatment

Treatment aimed at the relief of pain and symptoms but not intended to cure the disease.

Pap smear

(Papanicolaou) A test to detect cancer of the cervix.

Papanicolaou smear

(Pap) A test to detect cancer of the cervix.


Removing fluid from the abdomen under local anesthesia with a needle and syringe.


fracture A break in a bone usually caused by cancer or a related condition.


A doctor that studies disease by looking at tissues and body fluids under a microscope.


The study of disease by examining tissues and body fluids under the microscope.


Lining of the abdomen.

PET scan

Positron emission tomography scan. A procedure in which a small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) is injected into a vein, and a scanner is used to make detailed, computerised pictures of areas inside the body where the glucose is used. Because cancer... more


Tiny areas of bleeding under the skin, usually caused by a low platelet count.


A painful inflammation of the veins.


Extreme sensitivity to the sun, leaving the patient prone to sunburn. This can be a side effect of some cancer drugs and radiation.


An inert substance often used in clinical trials for comparison.

Plasma cell

A type of white blood cell that produces antibodies.


(Plt) Pieces that break off from certain bone marrow cells and are responsible for clotting. Platelets help prevent bleeding by plugging up areas of blood vessels damaged by cuts or bruises.