Definitions commonly used in cancer care:
Stage: Size and extent of a cancer.
Grade: How a cancer looks under the microscope; grade relates to how fast a cancer may grow.
Metastatic: Cancer has spread to other organs or areas of the body – usually Stage IV.
Recurrence: Cancer has come back.
Chemotherapy: Drugs given to combat cancer. Chemotherapy treatments may also affect normal cells and may have some (or many) side effects. Most chemotherapy drugs affect DNA production or other vital processes within cancer cells as well as within normal cells. Chemotherapy is usually given intravenously.
Targeted Therapy: A new kind of cancer treatment that affects very specific proteins or genes with in the cancer cell. Targeted therapies are given in the vein or by mouth and generally have fewer side effects than chemotherapy.
Hormonal Therapy: Use of hormones such as estrogen, androgen, or other agents to treat cancer.
Adjuvant Therapy: Use of chemotherapy, hormonal treatment, radiation therapy, or targeted therapy after a cancer has been surgically removed.The goal of adjuvant therapy is to prevent recurrence.
Neoadjuvant Therapy: Chemotherapy or hormonal therapy given to shrink a tumor before surgery.
Double Blind: A study in which neither the doctor nor the patient knows which of several drugs a patient is receiving. Some studies are blinded to avoid bias when reporting the results.
Placebo: An inactive substance, sometimes called a “sugar pill”. Placebos are used in clinical studies only if there is no known standard treatment for the cancer being studied. In these cases, a placebo is used as a comparison to the new drug being studied.
Randomized: When a study compares two different treatments for a cancer, it is not known which of the two is better. Therefore, in a clinical study neither the doctor nor the patient can choose which treatment will be given. Randomization is a method whereby the patient’s treatment can be fairly chosen - by chance.