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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.

Digestive Disorders

Keep track of daily bowel movements and notify your doctor right away if cramping, gas, loose stools, diarrhea or constipation occurs. Diarrhea. Some anticancer drugs affect normal cells in the gastrointestinal tract (GI) by causing diarrhea. If diarrhea occurs, your doctor may prescribe antidiarrheal drugs, antibiotics, intravenous fluids or changes in diet. Drinking water may also help. Avoid caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea and certain soft drinks), alcohol and milk. Constip ...

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'Chemobrain'

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause problems with cognitive (mental) functions, such as concentration, memory and the ability to multitask. Most chemotherapy patients experience these effects, sometimes referred to as “chemobrain” or brain fog, to some degree, although doctors are unable to predict who might be affected. The cognitive effects of chemotherapy for some are long-lasting. A small percentage of patients have long-term effects known as "chemotherapy-induced cognit ...

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Low Blood Counts

Cancer therapy can lower your blood cell counts and chemotherapy especially can affect rapidly dividing bone marrow cells. This hinders the marrow's ability to supply new cells to the blood during treatment and for some time after. White cell counts decrease most quickly, followed by decreases in platelet counts and then red cells. Some drugs, however, have little or no damaging effect on the marrow. The effects of other drugs can either be reversed once therapy is stopped or may last fo ...

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Infections

Your risk of infection increases during chemotherapy when your body doesn't produce enough white cells (called neutrophils and monocytes) to keep your immune system working properly. This means that bacteria, viruses and fungi in the environment, in your nose, mouth and colon, and on your skin can invade your body without fear of being destroyed by white cells, thereby causing infection. Furthermore, chemotherapy can damage the lining of your mouth and intestines, making it easier for bacte ...

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Cancer-Related Fatigue

Fatigue is very common in patients with blood cancers. Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is characterized by excessive and persistent exhaustion that interferes with daily activity and function. CRF often begins before cancer is diagnosed, worsens during the course of treatment and may persist for months—even years—after treatment ends.  Unlike the fatigue that healthy people experience from time to time, CRF is more severe, often described as an overwhelming exhaustion that cannot b ...

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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.