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Glossary Results

Side effect

The signs or symptoms a patient may have from the effects of treatment on healthy cells.

Long-term effects

Medical problems that persist for months or years after treatment ends, for example, infertility, growth problems in children, or cancer treatment-related fatigue.

Graft-Versus-Tumor Effect (Graft-Versus-Leukemia Effect)

The potential immune reaction of transplanted (donor) T lymphocytes causing them to recognize and attack the cancer cells of the patient.

Monoclonal Antibody Therapy

Immune proteins made in the laboratory. This type of therapy targets and kills specific cancer cells. It does not cause many of the side effects of chemotherapy.

Graft versus cancer effect

With an allogeneic stem cell transplant, the donated stem cells make immune cells that are not totally "matched" with the patient's cells. For this reason, the donor immune cells may recognize the patient's cancer cells as foreign and kills them.

Fractionation of the Dose

In order to minimize the significant side effects of total body irradiation conditioning therapy, the dose of radiation required is given in several daily smaller doses rather than one larger dose. This approach has decreased the adverse effects of this treatment.

Alkylating Agent

A type of chemotherapy used to kill cancer cells by interfering with cancer cell division. Alkylating agents cause side effects because they also interfere with cell division in certain healthy tissues where cell division is frequent, such as the gastrointestinal tract. Cyclophosphamide is one of several types of alkylating agents.

Spleen

This organ in the left upper portion of the abdomen just under the left side of the diaphragm, acts as a blood filter. Enlargement of the spleen is called “splenomegaly.” Surgical removal of the spleen is known as “splenectomy.”

Induction therapy

The initial treatment with chemotherapy (or radiation therapy). The aim of induction therapy is to kill a maximum number of blood cancer cells so as to induce a remission (absence of signs or effects of the disease).

Radioimmunotherapy

A treatment that uses antibodies to carry a radioactive substance to lymphoma cells to kill them. Radioimmunotherapy such as Zevalin® carries a radioactive substance to the lymphoma cells that then irradiates lymphoma cells locally and selectively. This approach minimizes the effects of radiation on normal tissues.

Epigenetic Change

Any change that alters gene activity without changing the DNA sequence. Many types of epigenetic changes have been identified. While epigenetic changes are natural and essential to many of the body's functions, certain epigenetic changes can cause major adverse health effects, including cancer. Drugs that target specific epigenetic changes - for example, the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor vorinostat (Zolinza® )- are approved to treat some blood cancers and are being studied in clinical trials for treatment of other blood cancers

Tyrosine Kinase

A type of enzyme that plays a key role in cell function. It is normally present in cells, and a normal gene, ABL on chromosome 9, directs its production. In chronic myeloid leukemia, an alteration in the DNA results in a mutant fusion gene, BCR-ABL, which produces an abnormal or mutant tyrosine kinase. This abnormal enzyme leads to a cascade of effects in the cell that transforms it into a leukemic cell.

Tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI)

A type of drug, which includes widely used imatinib mesylate (Gleevec®). These drugs block the effects of the mutant BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase found in CML. This specific approach to cancer therapy is referred to as “molecular-targeted therapy” since the drug is designed to block the effect of a specific protein that is the essential cause of the leukemic transformation. Dasatinib (Sprycel®) and nilotinib (Tasigna®) are second-generation TKIs. They are being used either as initial treatment or after therapy when patients prove resistant to or cannot tolerate Gleevec. Bosutinib (Bosulif®) is approved for patients with resistance to Gleevec and other TKIs, and ponatinib (Iclusig) is approved for patients with the drug-resistant T315I mutation as well as patients without other TKI options.

Cancer-related fatigue (cancer treatment-related fatigue)

Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is characterized by excessive and persistent exhaustion that interferes with daily activity and function. It often begins before cancer is diagnosed, worsens during the course of treatment, and may persist for months and even years after treatment ends. Compared with fatigue that healthy people experience, CRF is more severe, particularly relative to the person's activity or level of exertion. CRF is also less likely to be relieved by sleep or rest. CRF is generally either attributable to effects of the cancer or to the cancer treatment (for example, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy), although the specific cause of a person's CRF may not be identifiable.

Farnesyl Transferase Inhibitor

A drug that has the potential to kill cancer cells by inhibiting or reversing the effect of farnesyl transferase, an enzyme needed to activate oncogenes (cancer-causing genes). FTIs, including tipifarnib (Zarnestra®) and lonafarnib (Sarasar®), are being studied to treat myelodysplastic syndromes and other blood cancers.

Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor (HDAC Inhibitor)

A substance that causes a chemical change that stops cancer cells from dividing. HDAC inhibitors appear to have a greater effect on cancer cells than on normal cells. As a result they may cause less toxicity than other chemotherapeutic agents.

Interstitial Pneumonitis

A severe inflammation in the lungs that can occur as a toxic effect of total body irradiation in the conditioning regimen. The small airways and intervening spaces between air sacs get congested, swollen, and exchange of oxygen can be compromised. Typically, no infection is present although a similar reaction can occur as a result of infection.

Cellular Immunity

That portion of the immune system that protects the individual from infection by the action of T lymphocytes, monocytes, macrophages and other specialized lymphocytes called NK cells. Deficiency in this portion of the immune system can permit infection by microbes such as the bacillus of tuberculosis, cytomegalovirus, and many other organisms that might be fended off more easily in a healthy individual. T lymphocytes also cooperate with B lymphocytes to increase the effectiveness of antibody formation.

Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH)

A technique to study chromosomes in tissue. It uses probes with fluorescent molecules that emit light of different wavelengths and colors. The probes match to the chromosomes within the cells, and the chromosomes fluoresce in color. FISH can be helpful in assessing risk and treatment needs, and for monitoring treatment effectiveness, by providing a sensitive test to see abnormal cells, such as cells with deletions of 17p.

Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)

A substance that is similar to glucose (a type of sugar) with a radioactive tracer (F-18) attached to it. FDG is injected into a patient's blood, and its activity in the body is traced using a PET scan. Because tumor cells consume significantly larger amounts of glucose than normal cells in surrounding tissue do, FDG-PET is an effective tool for detecting lymphoma and other cancers.

Central Nervous System (CNS) Prophylaxis

In certain types of leukemia, particularly acute lymphoblastic leukemia and acute monocytic leukemia with high blood cell counts, there is a propensity of the leukemic cells to enter the covering of the spinal cord and brain (the meninges). This process is often not apparent until months or years after remission when the leukemia returns, first in the coverings of the CNS, then in the marrow and blood. To prevent this type of relapse (meningeal leukemia), virtually all children and adults with acute lymphblastic leukemia who enter remission are treated by placing appropriate chemotherapy in the fluid that bathes the spinal cord and brain to prevent the leukemia from returning in these sites. In some cases, x-ray therapy is administered to the head as well. These approaches are very effective in eliminating leukemia cells in the coverings of the brain and spinal cord.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Cancer treatment, or sometimes the disease itself, can cause peripheral neuropathy (PN) — damage to nerves of the peripheral nervous system, which transmits information from the brain and spinal cord to every other part of the body. PN is estimated to affect 10 to 20 percent of people with cancer. It can be caused by: Certain chemotherapeutic agents, such as vincristine (Oncovin®), bortezomib (Velcade®), thalidomide (Thalomid®), lenalidomide (Revlimid®), cytarabine (Cytosar-U®) ...

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Anxiety and Depression

Depression and anxiety are common responses to a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment. You may feel overwhelmed by your cancer or that your life has been overtaken by treatment. Making treatment choices, finding the time and money for medical care and communicating with family members and friends can add stress as well. What's more, certain anticancer medications may contribute to feelings of anxiety and symptoms of depression. On top of being depressed or anxious, you may also feel ...

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Long-Term And Late Effects Of Treatment For Childhood Cancer Survivors

Treatment for childhood blood cancer may consist of chemotherapy and other drug therapies and may also include radiation therapy or allogeneic stem cell transplantation. There are risks for long-term and late effects common to all of these treatments, and these may include problems with learning, fatigue, bone or joint pain and an increased risk for developing a secondary cancer.  Some long-term and late effects become evident with maturation (puberty), growth and the normal aging p ...

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Psychological and Cognitive Effects

Psychological Effects Most childhood survivors of cancer are psychologically healthy. However, some studies have indicated that a small number of childhood leukemia survivors were more likely than their healthy peers to report changes in mood or behavior, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.   Cognitive Effects Learning disabilities can begin during treatment or appear months or years afterward. Areas that can be affected include: Mathema ...

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Heart, Kidneys, Liver and Lung Function

Some cancer treatments can affect the function of major organs like the heart, kidneys, liver and lungs. Your doctor will monitor you closely for any adverse effects.   Heart If cancer treatments are combined, such as chemotherapy with immunotherapies or other biological agents, they may be more likely to affect your heart. The effect may be temporary, but sometimes it can be permanent. Your doctor may test your heart function with an electrocardiogram (ECG) or another test(s) ...

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Glossary Results

Side effect

The signs or symptoms a patient may have from the effects of treatment on healthy cells.

Long-term effects

Medical problems that persist for months or years after treatment ends, for example, infertility, growth problems in children, or cancer treatment-related fatigue.

Graft-Versus-Tumor Effect (Graft-Versus-Leukemia Effect)

The potential immune reaction of transplanted (donor) T lymphocytes causing them to recognize and attack the cancer cells of the patient.

Monoclonal Antibody Therapy

Immune proteins made in the laboratory. This type of therapy targets and kills specific cancer cells. It does not cause many of the side effects of chemotherapy.

Graft versus cancer effect

With an allogeneic stem cell transplant, the donated stem cells make immune cells that are not totally "matched" with the patient's cells. For this reason, the donor immune cells may recognize the patient's cancer cells as foreign and kills them.

Fractionation of the Dose

In order to minimize the significant side effects of total body irradiation conditioning therapy, the dose of radiation required is given in several daily smaller doses rather than one larger dose. This approach has decreased the adverse effects of this treatment.

Alkylating Agent

A type of chemotherapy used to kill cancer cells by interfering with cancer cell division. Alkylating agents cause side effects because they also interfere with cell division in certain healthy tissues where cell division is frequent, such as the gastrointestinal tract. Cyclophosphamide is one of several types of alkylating agents.

Spleen

This organ in the left upper portion of the abdomen just under the left side of the diaphragm, acts as a blood filter. Enlargement of the spleen is called “splenomegaly.” Surgical removal of the spleen is known as “splenectomy.”

Induction therapy

The initial treatment with chemotherapy (or radiation therapy). The aim of induction therapy is to kill a maximum number of blood cancer cells so as to induce a remission (absence of signs or effects of the disease).

Radioimmunotherapy

A treatment that uses antibodies to carry a radioactive substance to lymphoma cells to kill them. Radioimmunotherapy such as Zevalin® carries a radioactive substance to the lymphoma cells that then irradiates lymphoma cells locally and selectively. This approach minimizes the effects of radiation on normal tissues.

Epigenetic Change

Any change that alters gene activity without changing the DNA sequence. Many types of epigenetic changes have been identified. While epigenetic changes are natural and essential to many of the body's functions, certain epigenetic changes can cause major adverse health effects, including cancer. Drugs that target specific epigenetic changes - for example, the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor vorinostat (Zolinza® )- are approved to treat some blood cancers and are being studied in clinical trials for treatment of other blood cancers

Tyrosine Kinase

A type of enzyme that plays a key role in cell function. It is normally present in cells, and a normal gene, ABL on chromosome 9, directs its production. In chronic myeloid leukemia, an alteration in the DNA results in a mutant fusion gene, BCR-ABL, which produces an abnormal or mutant tyrosine kinase. This abnormal enzyme leads to a cascade of effects in the cell that transforms it into a leukemic cell.

Tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI)

A type of drug, which includes widely used imatinib mesylate (Gleevec®). These drugs block the effects of the mutant BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase found in CML. This specific approach to cancer therapy is referred to as “molecular-targeted therapy” since the drug is designed to block the effect of a specific protein that is the essential cause of the leukemic transformation. Dasatinib (Sprycel®) and nilotinib (Tasigna®) are second-generation TKIs. They are being used either as initial treatment or after therapy when patients prove resistant to or cannot tolerate Gleevec. Bosutinib (Bosulif®) is approved for patients with resistance to Gleevec and other TKIs, and ponatinib (Iclusig) is approved for patients with the drug-resistant T315I mutation as well as patients without other TKI options.

Cancer-related fatigue (cancer treatment-related fatigue)

Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is characterized by excessive and persistent exhaustion that interferes with daily activity and function. It often begins before cancer is diagnosed, worsens during the course of treatment, and may persist for months and even years after treatment ends. Compared with fatigue that healthy people experience, CRF is more severe, particularly relative to the person's activity or level of exertion. CRF is also less likely to be relieved by sleep or rest. CRF is generally either attributable to effects of the cancer or to the cancer treatment (for example, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy), although the specific cause of a person's CRF may not be identifiable.

Farnesyl Transferase Inhibitor

A drug that has the potential to kill cancer cells by inhibiting or reversing the effect of farnesyl transferase, an enzyme needed to activate oncogenes (cancer-causing genes). FTIs, including tipifarnib (Zarnestra®) and lonafarnib (Sarasar®), are being studied to treat myelodysplastic syndromes and other blood cancers.

Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor (HDAC Inhibitor)

A substance that causes a chemical change that stops cancer cells from dividing. HDAC inhibitors appear to have a greater effect on cancer cells than on normal cells. As a result they may cause less toxicity than other chemotherapeutic agents.

Interstitial Pneumonitis

A severe inflammation in the lungs that can occur as a toxic effect of total body irradiation in the conditioning regimen. The small airways and intervening spaces between air sacs get congested, swollen, and exchange of oxygen can be compromised. Typically, no infection is present although a similar reaction can occur as a result of infection.

Cellular Immunity

That portion of the immune system that protects the individual from infection by the action of T lymphocytes, monocytes, macrophages and other specialized lymphocytes called NK cells. Deficiency in this portion of the immune system can permit infection by microbes such as the bacillus of tuberculosis, cytomegalovirus, and many other organisms that might be fended off more easily in a healthy individual. T lymphocytes also cooperate with B lymphocytes to increase the effectiveness of antibody formation.

Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH)

A technique to study chromosomes in tissue. It uses probes with fluorescent molecules that emit light of different wavelengths and colors. The probes match to the chromosomes within the cells, and the chromosomes fluoresce in color. FISH can be helpful in assessing risk and treatment needs, and for monitoring treatment effectiveness, by providing a sensitive test to see abnormal cells, such as cells with deletions of 17p.

Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)

A substance that is similar to glucose (a type of sugar) with a radioactive tracer (F-18) attached to it. FDG is injected into a patient's blood, and its activity in the body is traced using a PET scan. Because tumor cells consume significantly larger amounts of glucose than normal cells in surrounding tissue do, FDG-PET is an effective tool for detecting lymphoma and other cancers.

Central Nervous System (CNS) Prophylaxis

In certain types of leukemia, particularly acute lymphoblastic leukemia and acute monocytic leukemia with high blood cell counts, there is a propensity of the leukemic cells to enter the covering of the spinal cord and brain (the meninges). This process is often not apparent until months or years after remission when the leukemia returns, first in the coverings of the CNS, then in the marrow and blood. To prevent this type of relapse (meningeal leukemia), virtually all children and adults with acute lymphblastic leukemia who enter remission are treated by placing appropriate chemotherapy in the fluid that bathes the spinal cord and brain to prevent the leukemia from returning in these sites. In some cases, x-ray therapy is administered to the head as well. These approaches are very effective in eliminating leukemia cells in the coverings of the brain and spinal cord.