Glossary

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A

Absolute neutrophil count (ANC)
A measure of the actual number of infection-fighting cells (neutrophils) present in the blood.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)
A progressive disease characterized by large numbers of immature cells (resembling lymphoblasts) in the bone marrow, the blood, the lymph nodes, the spleen, the liver, and other organs. Symptoms may include; fever, anemia, pallor, fatigue, appetite loss, bleeding, thrombocytopenia (decreased platelet count), granulocytopenia, bone and joint pain, and enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen. Occurs chiefly during childhood -- abbreviation ALL, also called acute lymphocytic leukemia.

Acute myeloblastic leukemia (AML)
A progressive disease characterized by an abnormal increase in the number of myeloblast cells especially in bone marrow and blood, that is characterized by symptoms similar to those of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and that may occur either in childhood or adulthood -- abbreviation AML; called also acute myelocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia.

Allogeneic transplant
A bone marrow transplant involving one person as a donor and another person as a recipient.

Alopecia
Hair loss.

Anemia
Condition in which the number of red blood cells (RBC) and/or amount of hemoglobin (Hgb) in the blood are less than normal.

Anesthesia
Loss of sensation and usually of consciousness without loss of vital functions, artificially produced by the administration of one or more medications that block the passage of pain impulses along nerve pathways to the brain.

Asymptomatic
Presenting no symptoms of disease.

Autologous transplant
Involving one individual as both donor and recipient.

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B

Band
A young neutrophil.

Blast cells
Immature cells that mature into various types of blood cells.

Blood type
One of the classes (as A, B, AB, or O) into which blood can be separated on the basis of the presence or absence of specific antigens in the blood.

Bone marrow
Soft tissue occupying the inner cavities of bones responsible for blood cell production.

Bone marrow aspiration
Removal of a sample of cells and fluid from the bone marrow.

Bone marrow biopsy
Removal a sample of solid tissue (bone) from the bone marrow.

Bone marrow transplant
The transplantation of bone marrow after high doses of chemotherapy and radiation.

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C

Cancer
Diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells that tend to invade surrounding tissue and spread to distant body sites.

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)
The fluid that flows through and protects the brain and spinal canal.

Chemotherapy
The use of drugs in the treatment or control of disease. Usually referring to those drugs used in the treatment of cancer.

Chromosome
A structure in the nucleus of a cell that functions in the transmission of genetic information. Each consists of a double strand of DNA. Genes containing genetic information inherited from each parent, are arranged along the entire length of each DNA strand. Humans usually have 22 pairs of chromosomes in each cell (46 total).

Clinical trial
Organized studies to provide clinical information for evaluation of treatments.

Complete blood count (CBC)
A laboratory test that provides detailed information about the amount and the quality of each of the blood cells types. Usually includes a measurement of each of the three major blood cells (the red, the white, and platelet blood cells) and a measure of the hemoglobin and hematocrit.

Cytotoxic
Destructive to cells.

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D

Differentiation
Process in which cells or tissues mature to achieve specialized functions and properties.

E

Echocardiogram
Diagnostic test using ultrasound to determine how effectively the heart is functioning.

Electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG)
Test that records the electric current produced by the contraction of the heart muscle.

Erythrocyte
A mature red blood cell (RBC).

F

Febrile
Relating to fever.

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H

Hematocrit (HCT)
A measure of the packed cell volume (PCV) of red cells, expressed as a percent of the volume of blood which is red blood cells.

Hematologist
A medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of blood and blood-forming tissues.

Hematopoiesis
To produce blood cells.

Hemoglobin (Hgb)
A compound in the blood that carries oxygen to the cells from the lungs and carbon dioxide away from the cells to the lungs. Usually expressed as the weight of the hemoglobin in grams found in a deciliter of blood, (g/dl).

"HICKMAN®"  catheter (also called a "central line")
An indwelling catheter that may be left in place for a prolonged period of time to obtain blood samples and administer medications.

               "HICKMAN®" is a registered trademark of C.R. Bard, Inc. and its related company, BCR, Inc.

Host
The person who receives the bone marrow in a bone marrow transplant.

Hypersensitivity
An excessive reaction to a stimulus.

Human leukocyte antigens (HLA)
Proteins on the surface of cells that are important in transplantation and transfusion.

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I

Idiopathic
Usually refers to any condition with no known cause.

Immune system
A complex in the body that protects against foreign bodies and infectious organisms.

Immunosuppressive
Being capable of inhibiting immune responses.

Institutional review board (IRB)
Group which reviews the research taking place within an institution. Physicians, members of the clergy, medical scientists, and members of the community are all a part of this group.

Intrathecal
Administering medications into the cerebrospinal fluid.

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L

Leukemia
A disease of the bone marrow in which immature white blood cells reproduce at an abnormal rate. These cancerous cells may appear in the spleen, liver, and peripheral blood and may invade other organs.

Leukocyte
White blood cells of which there are several types including: granulocytes, monocytes and lymphocytes.

Lymphocytes
The primary cells of the immune response. The majority of these cells are produced in the lymph nodes and the thymus gland.

Lymph
A clear, transparent filtrate of plasma that is collected from tissues throughout the body and eventually flows to the lymphatic system.

Lymphatic System
Vessels that carry lymph fluid collected from tissues throughout the body.

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M

Morphology
The study of the structure and form of an organism.

Neutropenia
A decrease in the number of neutrophils in the blood.

N

Neutrophil
A type of white blood cell important in fighting infection. Mature neutrophils are sometimes called "segs" and young segs are called "bands".

O

Oncologist
A medical doctor who specializes in the study and treatment of cancer.

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P

Petechiae
Tiny purple or red spots that appear on the skin as a result of minute hemorrhages within layers of the skin.

Platelets
Small cells in the blood which are essential for blood clotting. Also called thrombocytes.

Prognosis
A prediction of the probable outcome of a disease based on the condition of the person and the usual course of the disease as observed in similar situations.

Plasma
The fluid (noncellular) portion of the circulating blood.

Proliferate
Growth by reproduction of similar cells.

Protocol
A written plan outlining a specific treatment regimen.

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R

Red blood cells (RBCs)
The cells that contain hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen to tissues) and gives blood its red color. Also called erythrocytes.

Reticulocyte
An immature red blood cell.

Reticulocyte Count
The number of reticulocytes usually expressed as the percent of red blood cells.

S

Segs (Segmented neutrophil)
A mature neutrophil.

Stem Cells
Cells that give rise to any of the different blood cells.

Subcutaneous port
A device placed under the skin that may remain in place for a prolonged period of time to obtain blood samples and administer medications.

Subcutaneous
Beneath the skin.

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T

Thrombocyte
Platelet.

Thrombocytopenia
Decreased platelet count.

V

Vital Signs
Referring to temperature, pulse, and respiration.

W

White blood cells (WBCs)
The cells that fight infection and are responsible for immune responses. They are made up of many different cell types and are classified according to their structure and function. Also called leukocytes.