Definitions used in this website:
- Tumor: here, this is used as another word for cancer, which is a malignant tumor; a malignant tumor is a serious illness that has two basic features:
1– it continues to grow, causing problems in the organ where it is located;
2– it tends to spread, giving rise to secondary tumors (metastases) in other parts of the body.
Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the world; it strikes 100 million people, two-thirds of whom are cured.
- Primary tumor: this is the nodule that gives rise to the illness. By contrast, “metastases” are “secondary tumor nodules”, which are spread to various parts of the body by the primary tumor.
- Metastases: are groups of cells that may detach from the primary tumor and spread to other organs, where they begin to grow, forming other nodules.
- Lymph nodes: these are glands that surround the organs of the body and which act as filters. When a tumor is surgically removed, the lymph nodes are also removed and examined, as they may be the first site to which the tumor has spread.
- Imaging tests: these radiological examinations (CT, PET, magnetic resonance, echography, etc) enable the internal organs to be explored and any alterations to be detected.
- Biopsy: this is the removal of a small piece of tissue, usually a suspect nodule or abnormal outgrowth, which is then analyzed under the microscope in order to determine whether or not it contains tumor cells.
- Histological examination: is the microscopic analysis of biopsy specimens or pieces of tissue removed during surgical operations.
- Tumor markers: are proteins produced by tumors. Their importance is obvious. A blood sample is taken; if the marker is detected in the sample, presumably there is a tumor; if the marker is absent, presumably there is no tumor. Unfortunately, however, it’s not as simple as that: many tumors do not produce markers, while many noncancerous conditions may raise the level of these markers. This means that tumor markers are only an aid to diagnosis and to post-surgical follow-up examinations.
- Neoadjuvant therapy: therapy given before surgery in order to improve the results.
- Adjuvant therapy: therapy given after surgery in order to improve the results.