Glossary of Terms Related to Sarcoma and Cancer

As part of our commitment to education, we are working on building a full glossary of sarcoma and cancer terms for our website. As we do this we thought we’d share our work in progress. We’d also like to credit and Duke Cancer Institute as some of the definitions were written with the assistance of their medical content.


Adjuvant therapy This is a type of treatment that is usually after surgery to strengthen the chances of controlling or curing the disease.

Alternative therapy An unconfirmed therapy that is done as a substitute of standard (proven) medical treatment.

Angiosarcoma This is a sarcoma that begins from cells that line blood vessels or lymph vessels.

Asymptomatic Having no symptons of a disease.

Benign A growth, condition or tumor that is not cancerous and may grow, but will not spread to other parts of the body. The opposite of benign is malignant.

Benign tumor An abnormal growth that is not cancerous and will not extend to other parts of the body. The opposite of a benign tumor is a malignant tumor.

Biopsy A biopsy is a sample of tissue removed in order to examine it more closely.

Bilateral Having or formed of two sides. In a medical condition it would refer to on both sides of the body.

Blood count A complete blood count (CBC) provides valuable data about the kinds and amount of cells in the blood.

Bone marrow Soft, tissue comprising the middle of certain bones of the body.

Bone scan A test used to study bones of the skeleton to detect areas of physical and chemical changes in bone.

Bone survey An x-ray of all the bones of the body. Also may be referred to as a skeletal survey.

Carcinogen Something that is known to cause cancer or cause cancer to grow.

Case manager  A healthcare professionals who assists in organizing the patient’s care (during diagnosis, treatment and recovery).

Chemotherapy The treatment of disease by chemicals. It is therapy used to treat cancer throughout the body by killing cancer cells.

Chondrosarcoma Malignant tumors that form in cartilage cells.

Clinical trials Tests of new treatments through research studies using a limited number of patients.

Concurrent treatment Treatment or therapy that is given at the same time as another treatment.

Debulk A procedure in which a surgeon removes as much of the tumor as possible.

Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans A malignant tumor that forms under the skin.

Diagnosis (Medical diagnosis) The identification of a disease or disorder.

Distant Cancer Cancer that has spread from the part of the body where it started to distant organs or distant lymph nodes.

Ewing sarcoma A small round blue cell tumor that usually occurs in the bones of younger patients (generally under 20 y/o). There are variants of Ewing sarcoma in the soft tissues.

False negative This is a test result suggesting a condition does not exist when it actually does.

False positive This is a test result suggesting a condition does exist when it actually does not.

Familial cancer This refers to cancers that take place in families more often than would be expected by chance. This may indicate a gene mutation or could be result of lifestyle factors.

Family medical history This documents relationships of family members and their medical histories.

Family therapy This is therapy that involves a whole family speaking with a mental health professional to work out issues or discuss family problems.

Fatigue A tiredness that often happens during cancer treatments and may not go away until long after treatments are over.

FDA  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They ensure the safety and effectiveness of food, medical equipment and drugs.

FDR First degree relatives. Also know as brothers, sisters or children of a person.

Fibrosarcoma A more cancerous tumor of the fibrous tissue.

First-line therapy This is the first treatment given and often the first treatment in a set.

Five year survival rate This is the percentage of people with a certain type of cancer who are alive 5+ years after diagnosis.

FNA biopsy Fine needle biopsy. This is a biopsy that extracts tissue or fluid with a small needle for examination.

Gadobenate dimeglumine A contrast agent used during an MRI to make clear pictures of the brain, spine and nearby tissues.

Gadolinium A metal element that is a contrast agent used in MRIs.

Gadopentetate dimeglumine A contrast agent used during an MRI to make clear pictures of the spine, brain, heart and soft tissue of joints.

Gamma irradiation Radiation therapy that uses gamma radiation.

Gastric Referring to the stomach

Gene therapy Treatment (being studied) where normal genes replace defective ones.

Genetic marker Variation in DNA that may indicate an enhanced risk of a type of disease or cancer.

Genetic testing Exams and tests that can indicate if a person has gene changes known to intensify risk of cancer.

Germ A bacterium, virus or microorganism that can instigate infection or disease

Glands Cells that make/release substances to be used by the body. Sweat glands are an example.

Grade This is an indication of how likely it is the cancer will spread. Sarcoma is graded on a system known as the FNCLCC system. The FNCLCC bases the grade off 3 factors. Those factors are mitotic count, differentiation and tumor necrosis.

Graft The process in which healthy skin, bone or other tissue is removed from one part of the body to replace damaged or diseased tissue to another area of the body.

Graft Versus Host Disease This is a condition where immune cells of a transplant attack tissues of the transplant recipient.

Please note this is not intended as medical advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health professional.


Enter your pledge amount