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ABTA Dictionary for Brain Tumor Patients

This dictionary explains terms the patient with a brain tumor is likely to hear or read. For additional information, consult with the medical professionals caring for you or refer to a medical dictionary or text book.

All rights reserved. Copyright © 1991, 1993 by American Brain Tumor Association ISBN 0-944093-27-2 Reproduction without prior written permission is prohibited.


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accessible (ak ses' sah bul) Refers to tumors that can be approached by a surgical procedure; tumors that are not deep in the brain or beneath vital structures. Inaccessible tumors cannot be approached by standard surgical techniques.

acuity (ah ku' ih tee) Refers to clarity or distinctness of hearing or sight.

adjuvant (ad' ju vant) A therapy used in addition to or accompanying another treatment.

agnosia (ag no' zee ah) Loss of ability to recognize objects, people, sounds, shapes, or smells. Usually classified according to the sense or senses affected (hearing, sight, smell, taste, touch). Symptom common to tumors of the parietal lobe of the cerebral hemispheres.

agraphia (ah graf' e ah) Loss of ability to write (a form of aphasia). Symptom common to tumors of the parietal lobe of the dominant cerebral hemisphere.

alopecia (al o pee' she ah) Loss of hair; baldness in areas where hair is usually present. A common side effect of radiation therapy to the brain and some chemical therapies.

analgesic (an al gee' zik) A medicine used to reduce pain.

anaplasia (an ah play' zee ah) Characteristics of a cell (structure and orientation) that make it identifiable as a cancer cell. Malignant.

angiogenesis (an gee o jen' ih sis) The growth of new blood vessels from surrounding tissue into growing tissue.

angiogram (an' gee o gram) A diagnostic procedure done in the x-ray department to visualize blood vessels following introduction of a contrast material into an artery.

anorexia (an o rek' see ah) Loss of appetite.

anosmia (an oz' me ah) Absence of the sense of smell. Symptom common to tumors of the frontal lobe of the cerebral hemispheres.

aphasia (ah faz' e ah) Loss of ability to speak or write; loss of ability to understand speech or written words.

articulation (ar tik u lay' shun) Speech.

artifact (ar' tih fakt) Something artificial, a distortion that does not reflect normal anatomy or pathology, not usually found in the body. For example, in radiology, the appearance on an x-ray of a surgical metal clip that obscures the clear view of an anatomical structure.

ataxic gait (ah tak' sik gate) Walking that is clumsy, uncoordinated.

autologous (aw tol' o gus) Coming from the same individual, as opposed to being donated by another individual.

axial (ak' see al) Position as it relates to the CNS. Intra-axial is within the CNS; extra-axial is outside the CNS.

benign (be nine') Not malignant, not cancerous.

biological response modifier (bi o loj' ih cul ree sponse' mod' ih fi ur) A substance used in adjuvant therapy that takes advantage of the body's own natural defense mechanisms to inhibit the growth of a tumor.

biopsy (bi' op see) Examination of a small amount of tissue taken from the patient's body to make a diagnosis.

blood brain barrier (blud brane bar' e ur) A protective barrier formed by the blood vessels and glia of the brain. It prevents some substances in the blood from entering brain tissue.

cancer (kan' sur) Malignant tissue that is invasive, destroys healthy tissue, and tends to spread to distant locations.

carcinoma (car sih no' mah) A malignant tumor that arises from epithelium, found in skin or, more commonly, the lining of body organs, for example, breast, prostate, lung, stomach or bowel. Carcinomas tend to infiltrate into adjacent tissue and spread (metastasize) to distant organs, for example, to bone, liver, lung or the brain.

catheter (kath' ih tur) A flexible, tubular surgical instrument. Used in body cavities or vessels for the removal or insertion of fluids.

cell (sel) The basic living unit of body tissue. It contains a nucleus surrounded by cytoplasm and is enclosed by a membrane.

cell cycle (sel si' kul) The reproductive stages of a cell leading to cell division (mitosis).

central nervous system (CNS) (sen' tral nur' vus sis' tem) Pertaining to the brain, cranial nerves and spinal cord. It does not include muscles or peripheral nerves.

cerebellopontine angle (ser eh bel' o pon' teen ang' gul) The angle between the cerebellum and the pons, a common site for the growth of acoustic neuromas.

cerebral (ser e' brul) Referring to the cerebrum.

cerebrospinal fluid (ser e bro spi' nal flu' id) The clear fluid made in the ventricular cavities of the brain that bathes the brain and spinal cord. It circulates through the ventricles and the subarachnoid space.

cerebrum (ser e' brum) The largest area of the brain, the cerebrum occupies the uppermost part of the skull. It consists of two halves called hemispheres. Each half of the cerebrum is further divided into four lobes: frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital.

chemotherapy (ke mo ther' ah pee) The use of chemical agents to treat brain tumors.

circumscribed (sir' come skribd) Having a border, localized. Often associated with a capsule and benign tumors of the brain, for example, meningiomas, pituitary adenomas and acoustic neuromas. See diffuse.

clinical (klin' ih kul) That which can be observed in patients. Research that uses patients to test new treatments, as opposed to laboratory testing or research in animals.

clinical cooperative group (klin' ih kul co op' ur ah tiv groop) A group of medical institutions cooperating to perform clinical (brain tumor) research.

CNS see Central Nervous System.

congenital (kon jen' ih tul) Existing before or at birth.

contralateral (kon trah lat' ur al) Affecting the opposite side. See ipsilateral.

cranial cavity (kra' nee ul kah' vih tee) The skull.

craniectomy (kra nee ek' toe me) Surgery performed on the skull where pieces of bone are removed to gain access to the brain, and the bone pieces are not replaced.

craniotomy (kra ne ot' o me) Surgery performed on the skull where a portion of bone is removed to gain access to the brain, and the bone is put back in its place.

CSF See cerebrospinal fluid.

CT or CAT scan Computerized Axial T omography. An x-ray device linked to a computer that produces an image of a predetermined cross-section of the brain. A special dye material may be injected into the patient's vein prior to the scan to help make any abnormal tissue more evident.

cyst (sist) A fluid-filled mass. Usually enclosed by a membrane.

cytotoxic (sigh toe tok' sic) Capable of killing cells.

debulk (dee bulk') A surgical procedure to decrease mass effect by removing a portion of a tumor or dead tissue. See mass effect.

Decadron® (dek' ah dron) Dexamethasone. A glucocorticosteroid medication used to reduce brain tissue swelling.

decompressive (dee kom pres' sive) Refers to a surgical procedure during which bone, tissue, or tumor is removed to lessen intracranial pressure.

dedifferentiate (dee dif' fur en she ate) A mature cell returning to a less mature state. See differentiate, undifferentiated.

delivery (dee liv' ur ee) See drug delivery.

density (den' sih tee) The amount of darkness or light in an area of a scan reflects the compactness and density of tissue. Differences in tissue density are the basis for CT and MR scans.

diabetes insipidus (di ah be' tez in sip' id us) A problem with water balance in the body causing excess urine production and great thirst, due to pituitary-hypothalamic damage. Diabetes mellitus, which has the same symptoms, is due to insufficient insulin production by the pancreas.

differentiate (dif fur en' she ate) The process cells undergo as they mature into normal cells. Differentiated cells have distinctive characteristics, perform specific functions, and are less likely to divide. See dedifferentiate, undifferentiated.

diffuse (dif fuse') Lacking a distinct border, not localized, spread out. See circumscribed.

diploid (dip' loyd) A cell having two full sets of chromosomes, the normal number for human cells. Eggs and sperm contain a single set of chromosomes (haploid).

diplopia (dih plo' pee ah) Double vision.

distal (dis' tull) Located far from the reference point. See proximal.

drug delivery (drug de liv' ur ee) The method and route used to provide medication.

dura mater (du' rah ma' tur) The outermost, toughest, and most fibrous of the three membranes (meninges) that cover the brain and spinal cord.

dysarthria (dis ar' three ah) Impairment of speech (articulation), caused by damage or disorder of the tongue or speech muscles. Symptom may indicate pressure on the brain stem (medulla oblongata) or elsewhere in the posterior fossa.

dysfunctional (dis funk' shun al) Working improperly or abnormally.

dysphagia (dis fay' gee ah) Difficulty in swallowing or inability to swallow. Symptom usually indicates tumors involving the lower brain stem.

dysphasia (dis fay' zee ah) Language disorder. Inability to speak words which one has in mind or to think of correct words; or inability to understand spoken or written words. Symptom common to tumors of the dominant cerebral hemisphere, particularly the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes.

edema (eh dee' mah) Swelling due to an excess of water.

embryonic (em bree on' ik) Undeveloped, related to the embryo.

emesis (em' ih sis) Vomiting.

encapsulated (en kap' sue la ted) Refers to a tumor that is wholly confined to a specific area, surrounded by a capsule. Localized.

epidemiology (ep ih dee me ol' o gee) The study of the distribution of disease and its impact upon a population, using such measures as incidence, prevalence, or mortality.

etiology (e tee ol' o gee) The study of the cause of a disease.

evoked potentials (e voked' po ten' shals) The use of electrodes to measure the electrical activity of nerves. May be used as a guide during surgical removal of tumors growing around important nerves.

extracerebral (eks trah seh ree' bral) Located outside the cerebral hemispheres.

extradural (eks trah du' ral) External (outside) to the dura mater.

focal (foe' kal) Limited to one specific area.

foci (fo' sigh) Plural of focus. The origin or center of a disseminated disease.

gait (gate) Pattern of walking.

ganglia (gang' lee ah) A mass of nerve tissue (gray matter), or a group of nerve cell bodies. Also refers to specific groups within the brain or spinal cord (as basal ganglia). Ganglion is the singular of ganglia.

generic (je ner' ik) A drug not protected by a trademark. Also, the scientific name as opposed to the proprietary, brand name.

genesis (jen' ih sis) The beginning of a process.

GFAP Glial Fibrillary Acidic P rotein. This protein, found in microfilaments of glial cells, helps distinguish glial from non-glial tumors. A laboratory stain is used to test for its presence.

gland (gland) An organ of the body that produces materials (hormones) released into the bloodstream, such as the pituitary or pineal gland. Hormones influence metabolism and other body functions.

glia (neuroglia) (glee' ah) Supportive tissue of the brain. There are three types of glial tissue: astrocytes, oligodendrocytes and microglia. Glial cells do not conduct electrical impulses, as opposed to neurons.

glioma (glee o' mah) Any tumor arising from glial tissue.

glucocorticosteroids (glu ko kor tih ko stair' oid) Medications used to decrease swelling around tumors.

gray matter (gray mat' ur) Gray matter, the "thinking brain", appears gray because it is composed of numerous nerve cells and blood vessels. The outer layer of the cerebrum - the cerebral cortex, and areas deep within the brain - the basal ganglia, are made up of gray matter. See white matter.

growth factor (growth fak' tur) A naturally occurring protein chemical that stimulates cell division and proliferation. It is produced by normal cells during embryonic development, tissue growth, and wound healing. Tumors, however, produce large amounts of growth factors.

hemianopsia (hem e an op' see ah) Loss of one half of the field of vision (the area that can be seen by each eye when staring straight ahead).

hemiparesis (hem e par' e sis) Muscle weakness of one side of the body.

hemiplegia (hem e plee' je ah) Complete paralysis of one side of the body.

hereditary (heh red'ih tair e) Transferred via genes from parent to child. Also called genetic.

herniation (her nee a' shun) Bulging of tissue through an opening in a membrane, muscle or bone.

heterogeneous (het er o gee' nee us) Composed of varied cell types.

homogeneous (ho mo gee' nee us) Composed of identical cell types.

hydrocephalus (hi dro sef' ah lus) Hydro = water, cephalo = head. Excess water in the brain due to blockage of cerebrospinal fluid flow, increased production, or decreased absorption.

hyperfractionation (hi per frak shun a' shun) An increased number of smaller dosage treatments of radiation therapy.

hyperthermia (hi per ther' me ah) The use of heat to kill tumor cells.

hypophysis (hi pof' ih sis) Pituitary gland.

hypotonicity (hi po toe nis' ih tee) Diminished muscle tone; limp muscles.

ICP Intracranial pressure, harmful when increased.

IICP Increased intracranial p ressure.

immunotherapy (im mu no ther' ah pee) Use of the body's immune system to fight tumors. See biological response modifier.

inaccessible (in ak ses' sah bul) See accessible.

infiltrating (in' fil tray ting) Refers to a tumor that penetrates the normal, surrounding tissue.

informed consent (in formed' kon sent') The right to have information explained to you so that you fully understand and agree to the nature of the proposed treatment.

interstitial radiation therapy (in ter stish' al ray dee a' shun ther' ah pee) The implantation of radioactive seeds directly into a tumor.

intra-arterial (in trah-ar te' re al) Injection into an artery (that may supply a tumor).

intracerebral (in trah seh ree' bral) Located within the cerebral hemispheres (cerebrum). See extracerebral.

intracranial (in trah kra' nee al) Within the skull.

intradural (in trah du' ral) Beneath the dura mater.

intramuscular (in trah mus' ku lar) Into a muscle.

intrathecal (in trah thee' kal) Injection into the sub-arachnoid space of the meninges. Usually done by lumbar puncture.

intratumoral (in trah tu mor' al) Injection into a tumor (usually performed during surgery).

intravenous (in trah vee' nus) Injection into a vein.

intraventricular (in trah ven trik' u lar) Injection into a ventricle.

invasive (in vay' siv) Refers to a tumor that invades healthy tissues. The opposite of encapsulated. Also called diffuse or infiltrating.

ipsilateral (ip sah lat' ur al) Affecting the same side. See contralateral.

irradiation (ih ray dee a' shun) Treatment by ionizing radiation, such as x-rays, or radioactive sources such as radioactive iodine seeds. See radiation therapy.

laser (lay' zur) An acronym of light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. A surgical tool that creates intense heat and power when focused at close range, destroying cells by vaporizing them.

lethargy (leth' ar gee) Sluggishness, drowsiness, indifference.

local (lo' kal) In the area of the tumor; confined to one specific area.

lumbar puncture (lum' bar punk' tur) Spinal tap. Needle penetration into the subarachnoid space of the lumbar spine. Used to withdraw a sample of spinal fluid for examination. Also used to inject a dye into the spine prior to a myelogram.

malignant (mah lig' nant) Cancerous or life-threatening, tending to become progressively worse.

Mannitol® (man' ih tol) A medication given to reduce brain swelling and elevated intracranial pressure. Also used to temporarily disrupt the blood brain barrier prior to some forms of chemotherapy.

mass effect (mas ef fekt') Damage to the brain due the bulk of a tumor, the blockage of fluid, or excess accumulation of fluid within the skull.

median survival (me' de an sur vi' val) Median means the middle value. An equal number of people live longer as die earlier than the median.

membrane (mem' brain) Thin layer of tissue covering a surface, lining a body cavity, or dividing a space or organ.

metastasize (meh tas' tah siz) To spread to another part of the body, usually through the blood vessels, lymph channels, or spinal fluid.

metastatic brain tumor (meh tah stat' ick brain tu' mor) A brain tumor caused by cancer elsewhere in the body spreading to the brain.

monoclonal antibodies (MAB) (mon o klon' al an' te bod eze) A biological response modifier with unique "homing device" properties. Chemicals or radiation tagged to the MAB may be delivered directly to tumor cells. Or, the MAB itself may be capable of tumor cell destruction.

MRI scan Magnetic Resonance Imaging. MRI is a scanning device that uses a magnetic field, radio waves, and a computer. Signals emitted by normal and diseased tissue during the scan are assembled into an image.

mutate (mu tate') Change in the genetic material (DNA) inside the cell.

necrosis (neh kro' sis) Dead cells. A common feature of glioblastoma multiforme and other malignant tumors, including metastatic cancer to the brain. Caused either by lack of blood supply or irradiation.

neoplasm (nee' o plazm) A tumor, either benign or malignant.

neuroectoderm (nur o eck' toe durm) The region of the embryo that eventually develops into the nervous system.

neuron (new' ron) Nerve cell; conducts electrical signals.

nervous system (nur' vus sis' tem) The entire integrated system of nerve tissue in the body: the brain, brain stem, spinal cord, nerves and ganglia.

nuclear medicine (noo' klee ar med' ih sin) The branch of medicine that deals with the use of radioisotopes in therapy and diagnosis.

nucleus (noo' klee us) The center of the cell containing the genetic information (genes and chromosomes, DNA, etc). The appearance of the nucleus is used as a criterion to determine the malignant potential of a cell or tissue.

nystagmus (nis tag' mus) Rapid movement of the eyeballs.

Ommaya reservoir (o my' ah rez' ur vwar) A device with a fluid reservoir implanted under the scalp with a catheter to a ventricle. It allows for medication to be given directly to the CSF and into the brain.

oncogene (ong' ko jean) Fragments of genetic material (DNA) that carry the potential to cause cancer (transform normal cells into malignant cells).

oncogenesis (ong ko jen' eh sis) The causation or production of tumors.

palliative care (pal' e ah tiv kare) Caring for a patient by maintaining the best quality of remaining life. Also offering support and guidance to the patient and family.

palsy (pawl' zee) Complete paralysis.

papilledema (pap il eh dee' mah) Swelling of the optic nerve. Indicates increased intracranial pressure on the optic nerve. Also called choked disc.

paralysis (pah ral' ih sis) Loss of muscle function due to injury or disease of the nervous system.

paresis (pah ree' sis) Weakness.

paresthesia (par es thee' ze ah) Abnormal sensations, such as burning, prickling.

PET scan Positron Emission Tomography. A scanning device which uses low-dose radioactive sugar to measure brain activity. This is a limited-use diagnostic tool.

Phenobarbitol® (fee no bar'bih tol) A sedating medication used to control seizures.

photodynamic radiation therapy (foe toe di nam'ik ray dee a' shun ther'ah pee) A light sensitive drug is given through a vein and concentrates in the tumor. Then, during a surgical procedure, a special light activates the drug. The activated drug kills tumor cells.

PNET Primitive Neuroectodermal T umor

primary brain tumor (pri' mar ee brane tu' mor) Original source of tumor is the brain rather than other areas of the body.

primitive (prim' ih tiv) Undeveloped or in early stages of development, undifferentiated.

prognosis (prog no' sis) A forecast as to probable outcome.

protocol (pro' toe kol) An outline of care; a treatment plan.

proto-oncogenes (pro' toe-ong' koe jeans) Fragments of genetic material (DNA), related to oncogenes, but are the normal "switches" used to control growth and tissue repair.

proximal (prock' sih mal) Located closest to the reference point. See distal.

quality of life (kwol' ih tee ov life) Refers to the level of comfort, enjoyment, ability to pursue daily activities. Often used in discussions of treatment options.

radiation therapy (ray dee a' shun ther' ah pee) The use of radiation energy to interfere with tumor growth. See irradiation.

radioresistant (ray dee o ree zis' tant) Resistant to radiation therapy.

radiosensitive (ray dee o sen' sih tiv) Responsive to radiation therapy.

radiosurgery See stereotactic radiosurgery

recurrence (ree kur' ens) The return of symptoms or the tumor itself, as opposed to a remission.

rehabilitation (ree hah bil ih tay' shun) The return of function after illness or injury, often with the assistance of specialized medical professionals.

remission (ree mish' shun) The disappearance of symptoms; the disappearance of the tumor.

resection (ree sek' shun) Surgical removal of a tumor.

residual (ree zid' yu al) Remaining tumor.

respiration (res pur a' shun) Breathing. To inhale and exhale.

seizure (see' zhur) Convulsions. Epilepsy. Due to temporary disruption in electrical activity of the brain.

shunt (shunt) A drainage system. Spinal fluid flows from a ventricle into a body cavity via a tube. Used to relieve increased intracranial pressure caused by brain tumors that block the flow of spinal fluid.

ventriculo-atrial (VA) shunt: the tube empties into the right atrium of the heart.

ventriculo-peritoneal (VP) shunt: the tube empties into the abdominal cavity.

spasticity (spas tis' ih tee) Increased involuntary muscle contraction (the opposite of hypotonicity).

spinal fluid (spy' nal flu' id) See cerebrospinal fluid

stalk (stawk) A stem. Usually refers to the pituitary stalk that connects the pituitary gland to the hypothalamus.

stereotactic (steh ree o tak' tik) Precise positioning in three dimensional space. Refers to surgery or radiation therapy directed by various scanning devices.

stereotactic radiosurgery (steh ree o tak' tik ra' dee o sir' jur ee) A radiation therapy technique that uses a large number of narrow, precisely aimed, highly focused beams of ionizing radiation. The beams are aimed from many directions circling the head, and meet at a specific point.

steroids (stair' oid) See glucocorticosteroids.

strabismus (strah biz' mus) Imperfect eye coordination (crossed eyes).

subcutaneous (sub cue tay' nee us) Beneath the skin.

systemic (sis tem' ik) Circulating throughout the body.

Tegretol® (teg' rit tol) Carbamazine. A medication given to control seizures; also used for pain relief in patients who have trigeminal neuralgia.

tinnitus (tin nye' tus) Buzzing or ringing in the ear. Symptom common to tumors of the acoustic nerve.

tissue (tish' yu) A group of similar cells united to perform a specific function.

tumor (tu' mor) An abnormal growth. Tumors may be benign or malignant by cell type, or life-threatening (malignant) by their location.

tumor marker (tu' mor mar' kur) Substances found in blood or other fluids that identify the presence of a tumor, and/or the tumor type.

ultrasound (ul' trah sownd) Visualization of structures in the body by recording the reflections of sound waves directed into tissues. May be used during surgery.

undifferentiated (un' dif fur en' she a ted) An immature, embryonic, or primitive cell. It has a nonspecific appearance with multiple nonspecific activities and functions poorly. See differentiate, dedifferentiate.

vascular (vas' cue lur) Relating to blood vessels.

vascularity (vas ku lair' ih tee) The blood supply of a tumor.

vertigo (ver' tih go) Dizziness. Symptom common to tumors of the acoustic nerve.

white matter (whyte mat' ur) Brain tissue composed of myelin-coated nerve cell fibers. White matter carries information between the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The inner portion of the cerebrum is composed of white matter. See gray matter.


anesthesiologist A physician trained in administering anesthetics and caring for people who are anesthetized. Anesthetics are drugs or agents used during surgery to prevent the sense of pain. Local anesthesia numbs a small area; general anesthesia produces unconsciousness.

clinical nurse specialist A registered nurse with an advanced degree in a particular area of patient care; e.g., neurosurgery clinical nurse specialist.

dietician An individual trained in diet and nutrition.

endocrinologist A physician trained in diagnosing and treating disorders of hormone-secreting (endocrine) organs. These organs include the thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal glands, the pituitary, the pineal body and the gonads.

fellow A doctor who has completed medical school, internship and a residency, and has chosen to receive very specialized training in one particular treatment or research area.

intern A medical doctor who has completed medical school and is in the first year of additional training.

medical oncologist A physician trained in diagnosing and treating tumors and cancer with chemotherapeutic or immunologic agents.

neurologist A physician trained in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the nervous system.

neuro-oncologist An physician who specializes in treating patients with brain tumors, and/or the consequences of cancer upon the nervous system. The physician may be a trained neurologist, oncologist or neurosurgeon.

neuropathologist A pathologist who establishes the diagnosis in diseases of the nervous system by careful microscopic examination of the tissue.

neuropsychologist A psychologist who specializes in ailments of the mind and mental processes caused by disease of the nervous system.

neuroradiologist A radiologist who specializes in the use of radioactive substances, x-rays and scanning devices for the diagnosis of diseases of the nervous system.

neurosurgeon A physician trained in surgery of the nervous system.

nurse practitioner A registered nurse with advanced training in a particular area of health care, e.g., pediatric nurse practitioners have additional education in the care of children.

occupational therapist An individual trained to help people manage the daily activities of living, such as dressing, grooming or cooking, and regaining vocational skills.

oncologist A cancer specialist.

ophthalmologist A physician trained in diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the eye.

otolaryngologist A physician trained in diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the ear, the nose, and throat.

pathologist A physician trained in the nature, cause, process and effects of disease; examines samples of tissue removed during surgery to determine an exact diagnosis.

pharmacist An individual trained in preparing and dispensing medicines.

physiatrist A physician trained in rehabilitative medicine.

physical therapist An individual trained to assist people in restoring muscle function.

physician's assistant A technician trained to administer certain procedures under the direct supervision of a physician.

radiation oncologist/radiation therapist

A radiologist who specializes in the use of radioactive substances and x-rays for the treatment of tumors and cancer.

radiologist A physician trained in the use of radioactive substances, x-rays, and other imaging techniques to arrive at a diagnosis.

registered nurse A trained medical professional who assists people in health care under the direction of a physician.

resident A medical doctor who has completed medical school and internship, and is receiving training in a specialized area. Completion of a residency program is required for board certification in a medical or surgical specialty.

social worker An individual, usually with a university degree in social work, who provides counsel and aid to individuals with emotional and family problems.

speech (and language) therapist An individual trained to assist patients in restoring speech and communication functions.


BX biopsy

DX diagnosis

PX prognosis

R/O rule out

RX treatment

RXT (XRT) radiation therapy

IA intraarterial

IM intramuscular

IV intravenous

NPO nothing by mouth

PO by mouth


BID twice a day

H hour

Q every

Q 4 H every four hours

QD every day

QID four times a day

TID three times a day


an absent, without

anti against

bi two

dys difficult, abnormal, not functioning properly

extra outside

hemi half

hetero different

homo alike, similar

hyper high, excessive, increased

hypo low, deficient, insufficient

infra below, under

inter between

intra within, inside

macro large

micro small

mono one

para beside, next to, beyond

patho disease

peri around, surrounding

post after

pre before

sub under, near, almost, moderately, less than

supra, super above, over

tri three


aden, adeno pertaining to a gland

angi, angio pertaining to a blood vessel

cephal pertaining to the head

cerebr, cerebri pertaining to the brain

cyt, cyto pertaining to cells

glossa pertaining to the tongue

hema, hemo pertaining to blood

idio peculiar to a specific individual

immuno pertaining to the immune system

neuro pertaining to nerves

ocul, oculo pertaining to eyes

onco pertaining to a tumor or malignancy

phag pertaining to eating or swallowing

phleb pertaining to a vein

plegia paralysis

psych pertaining to the mind

thromb pertaining to a blood clot

veni, veno pertaining to veins


algia pain

cide capable of killing

cyte cell

ectomy surgical removal

genesis formation of

itis inflammation

ology study of

oma tumor

otomy opening

plasia, plasm growth, formation

suppression slowing down, restraint, inhibition


Length: inches (in) converted to meters (m)

12 in (inches) = 1 ft (foot)

2.5 cm (centimeters) = 1 in

1 m (meter) = 100 cm

inches/feet			meters
 1 in				 .0254 m = 2.5 cm
12 in (1 ft)			 .3
 2.0  ft			.6
 2.5  ft			 .8
 3.0  ft			1.9
 3.5  ft			1.1
 4.0  ft			1.2
 4.5  ft			1.4
 5.0  ft			1.5
 5.5  ft			1.7
 6.0  ft			1.8
 6.5  ft			2.0

Weight: pounds (lb) converted to kilograms (kg)

1 oz (ounce) = 28 g (grams) = .028 kg (kilograms)

16 oz = 1 lb (pound) = .45 kg

1 g = .035 oz

1000g = 1 kg

pounds				kilograms
  1.0 lb				   .45 kg
  2.2				  1.0
  5.0				  2.25
 10.0				  4.5
 15.0				  6.75
 20.0				  9.0
 25.0				 11.4
 30.0				 13.5
 35.0				 15.8
 40.0				 18.0
 45.0				 20.3
 50.0				 22.7
 75.0				 34.1
100.0				 45.5
110.0				 50.0
125.0				 56.8
150.0				 68.2
165.0				 75.0
175.0				 79.5
200.0				 90.9
222.2				100.0

Temperature: Fahrenheit (F) converted to Centigrade (C)

[(F°-32) X 5]/9 = degrees C°

[(C° X 9)/5] + 32 = degrees F°

  F				  C
 96.8°				36.0°
 97.0				36.1
 97.7				36.5
 98.0				36.7
 98.6				37
 99.0				37.2
 99.5				37.5
100.0				37.8
100.4				38
101.0				38.3
101.3				38.5
102.0				38.9
102.2				39
103.0				39.4
103.1				39.5
104.0				40
104.9				40.5

Liquids: ounces (oz) converted to cubic centimeters (cc)

1 cc = 1 ml (milliliter)

1000 cc = 1000 ml = 1 L (liter)

8 oz = 1 c (cup)

2 cups = 1 pt (pint) = 16 oz = 474 cc = .47 L

 oz				 cc
 1  oz				 29.6 cc
 2				 59
 3				 89
 4				118
 5				148
 6				178
 7				207
 8				237
 9				266
10				296
11				326
12				355
13				385
14				414
15				444
16				474


We gratefully acknowledge the volunteer efforts of Gail Segal for writing this publication. We also extend our appreciation to Steven Brem, M.D., Professor of Neurosurgery, Northwestern University Medical School, Director, Neurosurgical Oncology, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago, IL for technical review.

To learn more about American Brain Tumor Association, contact the office at 847-827-9910, or the Patient and Family Line: (800) 886-2282, or by email:

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