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Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa, working closely with our partner the Helen G. Nassif Community Cancer Center, provides a host of support services for our patients.
Adjuvant Therapy: Treatment given after the primary treatment (usually surgery) to increase the chances of a cure. Adjuvant therapy may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy or biological therapy.
Alternative Medicine: Practices utilizing non-standard treatments such as meditation, massage therapy, herbal supplements, acupuncture and spiritual healing. Also referred to as Complementary Medicine.
Aromatase Inhibitor: A drug that prevents the formation of estradiol, a female hormone arising from the adrenal gland, by interfering with an aromatase enzyme. Aromatase inhibitors are a type of hormone therapy used in postmenopausal women who have hormone positive breast cancer.
Axillary Lymph Nodes: Lymph nodes found in the armpit region that drain the lymph channels from the breast.
Biological Therapy: Medications used to stimulate or restore the ability of the immune system to fight infections of disease. Also referred to as immunotherapy, biotherapy, or biological response modifier.
Biopsy: Removal of cells or tissue for microscopic evaluation. When only a sample of tissue is removed, the procedure is called an incisional or core biopsy. When an entire lump is removed,
it is called an excisional biopsy, and when a sample of tissue or fluid is removed with a needle, it is referred to as a needle biopsy or fine needle aspiration.
Bone Marrow: The soft, spongy center of the bone where blood cells are manufactured.
BRCA1: A gene on chromosome 17 that normally helps to suppress cell growth. Associated with Breast Cancer risk.
BRCA2: A gene on chromosome 13 that normally helps to suppress cell growth. Associated with Breast Cancer risk.
Breslow’s Thickness: Measures the area of greatest thickness and is considered as a factor in
staging and prognosis.
Cancer: A term for disease in which abnormal cells divide without control. Cancer cells can
invade nearby tissues and spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts
of the body.
Carcinoma: Cancer that begins in the skin or in the tissues that line or cover internal organs.
Chemotherapy: Treatment with anticancer drugs.
Clark Level: Evaluates the level of skin invasion and is considered in staging and prognosis.
Clinical Trials: A type of research study that tests new methods of screening, prevention,
diagnosis, or treatment of a disease.
Estrogen: A hormone that promotes the development and maintenance of female sex
External Radiation: Radiation therapy that uses a machine to aim high energy rays at the
cancer. Also called external beam radiation.
FISH (Fluorescence in situ hybridization): this is a test used to detect cytogenetic abnormalities and mutations in both inherited disorders and diseases such as cancer. In cancer diagnosis and treatment, this test can help physicians better predict if a treatment will work on a specific tumor cell.
Gene: A part of the body’s code for making new cells and controlling the growth and repair
Genetic testing: Genetic testing can help detect abnormal gene mutations that can may identify a potential risk for a disease. Most cancers come from random gene mutations that develop in the body’s cells during a lifetime as a mistake. Only a small portion of cancers, less than 10%, actually come from an inherited gene mutation. Examples of inherited genetic mutations that could lead to cancer include the BRCA1&2 breast cancer genes.
Grade: Tells you how much the tumor cells look different from normal cells.
HER2/neu Gene: The gene that makes the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2.
The protein produced is HER2/neu, which is involved in the growth of some cancer cells.
Also call c-erbB-2.
Hormone Receptor Test: A test to measure the amount of certain proteins, called hormone
receptors, in cancer tissue. Hormones can attach to these proteins. A high level of hormone
receptors may mean that hormones help the cancer grow.
Immune System: The body’s system comprised of organs and cells that defend against disease and infection.
Invasive Cancer: Cancer that has spread beyond the layer of tissue in which it has developed, and is growing into surrounding healthy tissues. Also referred to as infiltrating cancer.
Intravenous: Injection into the bloodstream.
LDH: A blood test that may be used to help determine prognosis in certain kinds of cancers such as melanoma and lymphoma.
Lobe: A portion of an organ, such as the liver, lung, breast, thyroid or brain.
Lobule: A small lobe or a subdivision of a lobe.
Local Therapy: Treatment that affects cells in the tumor and the area close to it.
Locally Advanced Cancer: Cancer that has spread only to nearby tissues or lymph nodes.
Lymph: The clear fluid that travels through the lymphatic system and carries cells that fight infections and diseases.
Lymph Node: A rounded mass of lymphoid tissue that is surrounded by a capsule of connective tissue. Lymph nodes filter the flow of lymph. Lymph resembles blood plasma (a clear fluid) that contains white blood cells which fight infection.
Lymphatic System: The tissues and organs that produce, store, and carry white blood cells that fight infections and other diseases. This system includes the bone marrow, spleen, thymus, lymph nodes, and lymphatic vessels. Lymphatic vessels branch, like blood vessels, into all tissues in the body.
Lymphedema: A condition in which excess fluid collects in tissue and causes swelling. It may
occur in the arm or leg after lymph vessels or nodes are removed or treated with radiation.
Macrometastasis: Tumor spread that can be found when the doctor examines you.
Metastasis: The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another. A tumor formed from cells that have spread is called a “metastatic tumor”. The metastatic tumor contains cells that are like those in the original (primary) tumor.
Micrometastasis: Tumor spread that can only be seen under a microscope. It cannot be seen by just looking with your eyes.
Monoclonal Antibodies: Laboratory - produced substances that can locate and bind to cancer cells. Each monoclonal antibody can recognize a specific protein in certain cancer cells.
Neoadjuvant Therapy: Treatment given before surgery, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or hormone therapy.
Palliative Care: Care that prevents or relieves the symptoms of disease or the side effects of
treatment. Palliative care does not attempt to cure a disease but can improve the quality of life.
It attempts to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the patient.
Platelet: A blood cell that is necessary for blood clotting.
Red Blood Cells: Blood cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to the tissues of the body and carry carbon dioxide to the lungs to be exhaled. Hematocrit refers to a count of red blood cells.
Hemoglobin is a measurement of the part of a red blood cell that carries oxygen.
Satellite Lesions and In Transit Metastases: Satellite lesions are separate nests of melanoma cells that are clearly separated from the first tumor. In Transit Metastases is any metastasis within the skin or lymph tissue just below the skin that is at least 2 cm from the original tumor but has not reached the regional lymph nodes.
Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy: A surgical technique that uses a dye to identify the first lymph node that would be the most likely point of cancer spread. That node is removed and evaluated for cancer.
Superficial Spreading Melanoma: Superficial spreading melanoma is the most common
subtype, comprising 70 percent of melanomas. It occurs anywhere on the body.
Tumor Marker: A substance sometimes found in the blood, other body fluids, or tissues.
A high level of tumor marker may mean that a certain type of cancer is active in the body.
Examples include PSA a prostrate cancer tumor marker and CEA a colon cancer tumor marker.
There is a lot of information online related to cancer education and treatment. Below are websites we recommend as the most credible sources for information:
St. Luke’s Home Medical
Advanced Hair Technologies
American Cancer Society
Jeffrey Scott Salon and
We treat many different types of cancer that can affect any part of the body from tissue, organs, blood and bone. Each type of cancer is unique with its own causes, symptoms, and methods of treatment. We take an individualized, personalized approach and offer patients the best available treatments and compassionate care.
The body is made up of millions of living cells. Normal cells grow, divide and die in an orderly way. Cancer begins when cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control. Instead of dying, cancer cells keep on growing and form new cancer cells. These cancer cells can grow into (invade) other tissues.
Different types of cancer can behave very differently. For example, lung cancer and breast cancer are very different diseases. They grow at different rates and respond to different treatments.
When cancer cells get into the bloodstream or lymph vessels, they can travel to other parts of the body. There they begin to grow and form new tumors that replace normal tissue. This process is called metastasis (muh-tas-tuh-sis).
Not all tumors are cancerous. Tumors that aren’t cancer are called benign (be-nine).