Adjuvant therapy: refers to additional treatment given after a main mode of therapy (the main treatment is usually surgery). For example, Gleevec given after surgery in hopes of preventing or delaying a recurrence is adjuvant therapy.
Allele: One of the variant forms of a gene at a particular location on a chromosome. Different alleles produce variation in inherited characteristics such as hair color or blood type. In an individual, one form of the allele (the dominant one) may be expressed more than another form (the recessive one).
Anemia: Anemia is a lower than normal number of red blood cells (erythrocytes) in the blood, usually measured by a decrease in the amount of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the red pigment in red blood cells that transports oxygen.
C-kit: The name of the gene that contains the instructions for manufacturing the “KIT” protein. When referring to the gene, “c-kit” is correct; when referring to the protein, the correct terminology is “KIT”. When a pathologist tests (using stains) for the KIT protein on tumor cells, the test is often called c-kit or CD117.
CT scan (CAT scan): Computerized (Axial) Tomography: reconstruction of a three-dimensional view of the inside of the body, by analyzing a series of two-dimensional X-ray images taken from many different angles
Chemoembolization: A technique for attacking liver metastases by injecting chemotherapy directly into the blood vessels that feed the liver tumor; a drug, mixed with particles that embolize or block the flow of blood, is injected through a catheter (inserted into an artery in the groin) into the artery in the liver that supplies blood flow to the tumor.
Chromosome: One of the threadlike “packages” of genes and other DNA in the nucleus of a cell. Different kinds of organisms have different numbers of chromosomes. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, 46 in all: 44 autosomes and two sex chromosomes. Each parent contributes one chromosome to each pair, so children get half of their chromosomes from their mothers and half from their fathers.
Cryosurgery: destruction of tumor tissue using sub-zero temperatures; a stainless steel probe is positioned in the center of the tumor; liquid nitrogen (which is extremely cold) is circulated through the end of the probe.
DNA: The biological macromolecule that encodes genetic information; contained in the chromosome. Chemically, DNA is a polynucleotide, a polymer made up of very many subunits (deoxyribonucleotides) linked in a linear sequence. The four sub-units are A, C, G, and T.
Gleevec: An oral molecularly-targeted chemotherapy. It is first-line treatment for GIST and Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML). Gleevec inhibits several enzymes that drive certain cancers. This includes the bcr/abl enzyme in CML, and KIT and PDGFRα in GIST.
Immunohistochemistry: A method for staining cells; antibodies to specific proteins are used as probes to analyze specimens and identify specific types of cells, especially for diagnosis of specific types of cancer
Metastasis: The spread of a tumor, through the circulation, to a site distant from the original tumor; e.g., metastasis of GIST to the liver. Metastatic cancers are usually more difficult to treat than are localized tumours. (Pronounciation: mu-TA-stu-sis)
MRI = magnetic resonance imaging: a radiological technique in which the patient is placed in a powerful magnet, and the magnetic properties of the nuclei of water (or other molecules) are used to construct anatomical images. MRI images somewhat resemble those produced by CT scans, but MRI is more sensitive to soft tissue structures. Unlike CT or PET scans, no ionizing (high-energy) radiation is used in MRI.
Neutropenia: A blood disorder characterized by a low number of neutrophils. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cells that fight infection. See Wikipedia article
There are four general guidelines (used to classify the severity of neutropenia based on the absolute neutrophil count (ANC) measured in cells per microlitre of blood:
Neutropenia (1500 < ANC < 2000) — slight risk of infection
Mild Neutropenia (1000 < ANC < 1500) — minimal risk of infection
Moderate Neutropenia (500 < ANC < 1000) — moderate risk of infection
Severe Neutropenia (ANC < 500) — severe risk of infection.
Penetrance: A term used in genetics that describes the extent to which the properties controlled by a gene, its phenotype, will be expressed. A highly penetrant gene will express itself almost regardless of the effects of environment, whereas a gene with low penetrance will only sometimes produce the symptom or trait with which it has been associated.
Protein: A biological macromolecule comprised of many (more than 100) amino acids linked together (by peptide bonds) in a specific sequence. Almost all enzymes (biological catalysts) are proteins. KIT and PDGFRα are proteins.
RNA: The biological macromolecule that converts genetic information contained in DNA into a form that the cell can use to make proteins. is a polynucleotide, a polymer made up of very many subunits (deoxyribonucleotides) linked in a linear sequence. The four sub-units are A, C, G, and T.
RT-PCR: reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction: a sensitive indirect method for measuring the expression of a protein in a cell or tissue, by analyzing the level of the messenger RNA encoding the protein
SGOT = serum glutamate-oxaloacetate transaminase: an enzyme, abundant in liver, which is released from cells following damage to the organ. Assay of this enzyme activity in blood serum is used to detect possible hepatotoxicity. SGPT (serum glutamate-pyruvate transaminase) is also used similarly.
Sutent (SU11248, Sugen, Sunitinib): An oral molecularly-targeted chemotherapy. Sutent was approved on January 26, 2006 in the United States for patients whose disease has progressed on Gleevec or who are unable to tolerate treatment with Gleevec. Sutent inhibits several enzymes that drive certain cancers. These include; platelet-derived growth factor receptors (PDGFRα and PDGFRβ), vascular endothelial growth factor receptors (VEGFR1, VEGFR2 and VEGFR3), stem cell factor receptor (KIT), Fms-like tyrosine kinase-3 (FLT3), colony stimulating factor receptor Type 1 (CSF-1R), and the glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor receptor (RET). The VEGF receptors and PDGFRβ are important in angiogenesis.
Thrombocytopenia:Thrombocytopenia (or -paenia, or thrombopenia in short) is the presence of relatively few platelets in blood. Platelets help form clots to prevent excessive bleeding. See Wikipedia article
Ultrasound: A radiological technique using very high frequency sound waves (about 5 MHz) for imaging internal organs. The signal is emitted from a transducer placed in contact with the skin and is reflected back, detected, and used to form the image.
The Life Raft Group would like to thank Dr. David Josephy – University of Guelph for his hard work on this glossary