Glossary of Cancer Terms
D&C Dilation and curettage. A procedure to remove tissue from the cervical canal or the inner lining of the uterus. The cervix is dilated (made larger) and a curette (spoon-shaped instrument) is inserted into the uterus to remove tissue. Also called dilation and curettage and dilatation and curettage.
D-20761 A synthetic luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LH-RH) antagonist that suppresses LH and sex steroid levels.
D-cycloserine A drug used to treat tuberculosis. It is also being studied in the treatment of pain and nerve problems (numbness, tingling) caused by chemotherapy and in the treatment of low back pain, autism, certain anxiety disorders and schizophrenia. D-cycloserine belongs to the family of drugs called antibiotics. Also called Seromycin.
da-huang Rheum palmatum or Rheum officinale. The root of this plant has been used in some cultures to treat certain medical problems. It may have anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects. Also called rhubarb, Chinese rhubarb, Indian rhubarb and Turkish rhubarb.
DACA Acridine carboxamide. A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is a type of topoisomerase inhibitor. Also called acridine carboxamide.
dacarbazine An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called alkylating agents.
dacliximab A monoclonal antibody that is being studied in the treatment of adult T-cell leukemia and in the treatment of cytopenia (low blood cell count). Also called daclizumab.
daclizumab A monoclonal antibody that is being studied in the treatment of adult T-cell leukemia and in the treatment of cytopenia (low blood cell count). Also called dacliximab.
Dacogen A drug that is used to treat myelodysplastic syndromes and is being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called antimetabolites. Also called decitabine.
dactinomycin An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called antitumor antibiotics.
daidzein An isoflavone found in soy products. Soy isoflavones are being studied in the prevention of cancer.
dalteparin A drug that helps prevent the formation of blood clots; it belongs to the family of drugs called anticoagulants.
danazol A synthetic hormone that belongs to the family of drugs called androgens and is used to treat endometriosis. It is being evaluated in the treatment of endometrial cancer.
daptomycin A drug used to treat certain bacterial skin and bloodstream infections in adults. Daptomycin is also being studied in the treatment of fever and neutropenia (an abnormal decrease in the number of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell) in patients with cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called antibiotics. Also called Cubicin.
darbepoetin alfa A substance made in the laboratory that stimulates the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. It belongs to the family of drugs called antianemics.
dark-field microscope A microscope (device used to magnify small objects) in which objects are lit at a very low angle from the side so that the background appears dark and the objects show up against this dark background.
dasatinib A drug used to treat certain types of chronic myeloid leukemia and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Dasatinib is also being studied in the treatment of certain other blood diseases and types of cancer. Dasatinib binds to and blocks BCR-ABL and other proteins that help cancer cells grow. It belongs to the family of drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Also called BMS-354825 and Sprycel.
Data and Safety Monitoring Board DSMB. An impartial group that oversees a clinical trial and reviews the results to see if they are acceptable. This group determines if the trial should be changed or closed. Also called DSMB.
daunorubicin An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called antitumor antibiotics. It is an anthracycline.
DCIS Ductal carcinoma in situ. A noninvasive condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct. The abnormal cells have not spread outside the duct to other tissues in the breast. In some cases, DCIS may become invasive cancer and spread to other tissues, although it is not known at this time how to predict which lesions will become invasive. Also called ductal carcinoma in situ and intraductal carcinoma.
DDS Denys-Drash syndrome. A rare disorder that causes kidney failure before age 3, abnormal development of the sexual organs, and, in most cases, Wilms’ tumor (a type of kidney cancer). Children with Denys-Drash syndrome are also at high risk of some other types of cancer. Also called Denys-Drash syndrome.
de novo In cancer, the first occurrence of cancer in the body.
de qi sensation Tingling, numbness, heaviness and other feelings that occur after an acupuncture needle has been properly placed in the body. The needle may be twirled, moved up and down at different speeds and depths, heated or charged with a small electric current until the de qi sensation occurs.
death cap Amanita phalloides. A type of poisonous mushroom that has harmful effects on the kidneys and liver. It is responsible for most fatal cases of mushroom poisoning.
decitabine A drug that is used to treat myelodysplastic syndromes and is being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called antimetabolites. Also called Dacogen.
decortication Removal of part or all of the external surface of an organ.
deferasirox A drug used to treat too much iron in the blood caused by blood transfusions. It is being studied in the treatment of myelodysplastic syndromes (a group of diseases in which the bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells) and other conditions. Deferasirox binds to extra iron in the blood. The drug and the iron are passed from the body in urine. It is a type of chelating agent. Also called Exjade.
deferoxamine An iron-chelating agent that removes iron from tumors by inhibiting DNA synthesis and causing cancer cell death. It is used in conjunction with other anticancer agents in pediatric neuroblastoma therapy.
defibrotide A substance that is being studied in the prevention of veno-occlusive disease, a rare complication of high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation in which small veins in the liver become blocked.
deficiency In medicine, a shortage of a substance (such as a vitamin or mineral) needed by the body.
degenerative disease A disease in which the function or structure of the affected tissues or organs changes for the worse over time. Osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and Alzheimer's disease are examples.
dehydration A condition caused by the loss of too much water from the body. Severe diarrhea or vomiting can cause dehydration.
dehydroepiandrosterone DHEA. A substance being studied in the prevention of cancer. It is a type of steroid. Also called DHEA.
delayed-type hypersensitivity response DTH. An inflammatory response that develops 24 to 72 hours after exposure to an antigen that the immune system recognizes as foreign. This type of immune response involves mainly T cells rather than antibodies (which are made by B cells).
delirium A mental state in which a person is confused, disoriented, and not able to think or remember clearly. The person may also be agitated and have hallucinations, and extreme excitement.
dementia A condition in which a person loses the ability to think, remember, learn, make decisions and solve problems. Symptoms may also include personality changes and emotional problems. There are many causes of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, brain cancer, and brain injury. Dementia usually gets worse over time.
Demerol A morphine-like drug used to relieve medium to severe pain. It belongs to the family of drugs called opioid analgesics and may be habit-forming. Also called meperidine.
dendritic cell A special type of antigen-presenting cell (APC) that activates T lymphocytes.
dendritic cell vaccine A vaccine made of antigens and dendritic antigen-presenting cells (APCs).
denial In psychiatry, a state in which a person is unable or unwilling to see the truth or reality about an issue or situation.
denileukin diftitox A substance used to treat cutaneous T-cell lymphoma when other treatments have not worked. It is also being studied in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia that has not responded to treatment. It belongs to the family of drugs called biological therapy agents. Also called Ontak.
denosumab A type of monoclonal antibody being studied in the treatment of multiple myeloma (a cancer that forms in bones) and in the prevention and treatment of bone metastases (cancer that has spread to bone from another organ). Monoclonal antibodies are made in the laboratory and can locate and bind to substances in the body, including cancer cells. Denosumab binds to the protein RANKL and helps keep bone from breaking down. Also called AMG 162.
dental implant A metal, root-shaped device that is placed surgically in the jawbone. It acts as an anchor for attaching false teeth (crowns or bridges).
dentist A health professional who specializes in caring for the teeth, gums and other tissues in the mouth.
Denys-Drash syndrome DDS. A rare disorder that causes kidney failure before age 3, abnormal development of the sexual organs and, in most cases, Wilms’ tumor (a type of kidney cancer). Children with Denys-Drash syndrome are also at high risk of some other types of cancer. Also called DDS.
deoxycytidine A drug that protects healthy tissues from the toxic effects of anticancer drugs.
deoxyribonucleic acid DNA. The molecules inside cells that carry genetic information and pass it from one generation to the next. Also called DNA.
DepoFoam-encapsulated cytarabine The anticancer drug cytarabine formulated inside small particles of a synthetic lipid material called DepoFoam. This dosage form slowly releases the drug and provides a sustained action.
depression A mental condition marked by ongoing feelings of sadness, despair, loss of energy, and difficulty dealing with normal daily life. Other symptoms of depression include feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, loss of pleasure in activities, changes in eating or sleeping habits and thoughts of death or suicide. Depression can affect anyone, and can be successfully treated. Depression affects 15-25% of cancer patients.
depsipeptide A substance that is made naturally by some bacteria, fungi, and other organisms, and can also be made in the laboratory. Depsipeptides are being studied in the treatment of cancer.
derivative In chemistry, a compound produced from or related to another.
dermatitis Inflammation of the skin.
dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans A type of tumor that begins as a hard nodule and grows slowly. These tumors are usually found in the dermis (the inner layer of the two main layers of tissue that make up the skin) of the limbs or trunk of the body. They can grow into surrounding tissue but do not spread to other parts of the body. These tumors are related to giant cell fibroblastoma.
dermatologist A doctor who has special training to diagnose and treat skin problems.
dermis The lower or inner layer of the two main layers of tissue that make up the skin.
dermoid cyst A type of benign (noncancerous) germ cell tumor (type of tumor that begins in the cells that give rise to sperm or eggs) that often contains several different types of tissue such as hair, muscle and bone. Also called a mature teratoma.
DES Diethylstilbestrol (dye-EH-thul-stil-BES-trol). A synthetic form of the hormone estrogen that was prescribed to pregnant women between about 1940 and 1971 because it was thought to prevent miscarriages. DES may increase the risk of uterine, ovarian or breast cancer in women who took it. DES also has been linked to an increased risk of clear cell carcinoma of the vagina or cervix in daughters exposed to DES before birth. Also called diethylstilbestrol.
deslorelin A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer as a way to block sex hormones made by the ovaries or testicles. It belongs to the family of drugs called gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogs.
desmoid tumor A tumor of the tissue that surrounds muscles, usually in the abdomen. A desmoid tumor rarely metastasizes (spreads to other parts of the body). It may be called aggressive fibromatosis when the tumor is outside of the abdomen.
desmoplastic Causing or forming adhesions or fibrous connective tissue within a tumor.
desmoplastic melanoma A rare form of malignant melanoma marked by nonpigmented lesions on sun-exposed areas of the body, most commonly on the head and neck.
desmoplastic small round cell tumor A rare, aggressive cancer that usually affects young males and usually is located in the abdomen.
detoxify To make something less poisonous or harmful. It may refer to the process of removing toxins, poisons or other harmful substances from the body.
developmental stage The physical, mental and emotional stages a child goes through as they grow and mature.
dexamethasone A synthetic steroid (similar to steroid hormones produced naturally in the adrenal gland). Dexamethasone is used to treat leukemia and lymphoma and may be used to treat some of the problems caused by other cancers and their treatment.
dexmethylphenidate A substance that is being studied in the treatment of fatigue and nervous system side effects caused by chemotherapy. It belongs to the family of drugs called central nervous system stimulants.
dexrazoxane A drug used to protect the heart from the toxic effects of anthracycline drugs such as doxorubicin. It belongs to the family of drugs called chemoprotective agents.
dextroamphetamine-amphetamine A combination of drugs that is used as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (a sleep disorder). It belongs to the family of drugs called stimulants. Also called Adderall.
dextromethorphan acetic acid An anticancer drug that is a type of angiogenesis inhibitor.
DFMO Difluoromethylornithine. A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. Also called difluoromethylornithine.
DHA-paclitaxel A combination of DHA (a natural fatty acid) and paclitaxel (an anticancer drug) that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called mitotic inhibitors.
DHEA Dehydroepiandrosterone. A substance being studied in the prevention of cancer. It is a type of steroid. Also called dehydroepiandrosterone.
di-dgA-RFB4 An anticancer drug that is a combination of a monoclonal antibody (RFB4) and an immunotoxin (dgA).
diabetes A disease in which the body does not properly control the amount of sugar in the blood. As a result, the level of sugar in the blood is too high. This disease occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or does not use it properly.
diabetes mellitus A group of disorders in which there is a defect in the transfer of glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into cells, leading to abnormally high levels of blood sugar (hyperglycemia).
diagnosis The process of identifying a disease by the signs and symptoms.
diagnostic mammogram X-ray of the breasts used to check for breast cancer after a lump or other sign or symptom of breast cancer has been found.
diagnostic procedure A method used to identify a disease.
diagnostic trial A research study that evaluates methods of detecting disease.
dialysis The process of filtering the blood when the kidneys are not able to cleanse it.
diameter The length of a straight line that extends from one edge of a tumor or other object, through its center and to the opposite edge. It is usually used to measure the size of round or spherical shapes.
diaphragm The thin muscle below the lungs and heart that separates the chest from the abdomen.
diarrhea Frequent and watery bowel movements.
diathermy A procedure in which tissue is heated to destroy abnormal cells. The heat may come from electric currents, microwaves, radio waves or ultrasound. Diathermy is a type of hyperthermia therapy. Also called electrodiathermy.
diaziquone AZQ. An anticancer drug that is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and kill cancer cells in the central nervous system. Also called AZQ.
didanosine A drug used in the treatment of infections caused by viruses.
DIEP flap A type of breast reconstruction in which blood vessels called deep inferior epigastric perforators (DIEP), and the skin and fat connected to them are removed from the lower abdomen and used for reconstruction. Muscle is left in place.
diet The things a person eats and drinks.
dietary protocol A detailed diet plan that states what, how and when a person will eat and drink. It may be used to test how a specific diet affects a health outcome, such as lower cholesterol.
dietary supplement A product that is added to the diet. A dietary supplement is taken by mouth, and usually contains one or more dietary ingredients (including vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and enzymes). Also called nutritional supplement.
diethylstilbestrol DES. A synthetic form of the hormone estrogen that was prescribed to pregnant women between about 1940 and 1971 because it was thought to prevent miscarriages. DES may increase the risk of uterine, ovarian or breast cancer in women who took it. DES also has been linked to an increased risk of clear cell carcinoma of the vagina or cervix in daughters exposed to DES before birth. Also called DES.
dietitian A health professional with special training in nutrition who can help with dietary choices. Also called a nutritionist.
differentiation In cancer, refers to how mature (developed) the cancer cells are in a tumor. Differentiated tumor cells resemble normal cells and tend to grow and spread at a slower rate than undifferentiated or poorly differentiated tumor cells, which lack the structure and function of normal cells and grow uncontrollably.
diffuse Widely spread; not localized or confined.
diffuse large B-cell lymphoma A type of B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (cancer of the immune system) that is usually aggressive (fast-growing). It is the most common type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and is marked by rapidly growing tumors in the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, bone marrow or other organs. Other symptoms include fever, night sweats and weight loss. There are several subtypes of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.
difluoromethylornithine DFMO. A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. Also called DFMO.
digestion The process of breaking down food into substances the body can use for energy, tissue growth and repair.
digestive system The organs that take in food and turn it into products that the body can use to stay healthy. Waste products the body cannot use leave the body through bowel movements. The digestive system includes the salivary glands, mouth, esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, small and large intestines and rectum.
digestive tract The organs through which food and liquids pass when they are swallowed, digested, and eliminated. These organs are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, rectum and anus.
digital mammography A technique that uses a computer, rather than X-ray film, to record X-ray images of the breast.
digital photography A type of photography in which images can be viewed on a computer screen.
digital rectal examination DRE. An examination in which a doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel for abnormalities. Also called DRE.
dihematoporphyrin ether Used in photodynamic therapy, a drug that is absorbed by tumor cells; when exposed to light, it becomes active and kills the cancer cells.
diindolylmethane DIM. A substance being studied in the treatment of prostate cancer and in the prevention of cervical cancer. Diindolylmethane is found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and kale. It is a type of plant indole. Also called DIM and BioResponse-DIM.
dilatation and curettage D&C. A procedure to remove tissue from the cervical canal or the inner lining of the uterus. The cervix is dilated (made larger) and a curette (spoon-shaped instrument) is inserted into the uterus to remove tissue. Also called D&C and dilation and curettage.
dilate To widen or enlarge an opening or hollow structure beyond its usual size, such as the pupil of the eye or a blood vessel.
dilation and curettage D&C. A procedure to remove tissue from the cervical canal or the inner lining of the uterus. The cervix is dilated (made larger) and a curette (spoon-shaped instrument) is inserted into the uterus to remove tissue. Also called D&C and dilatation and curettage.
dilator A device used to stretch or enlarge an opening.
dilute To make something thinner, weaker, less concentrated or less pure by adding something to it.
DIM Diindolylmethane. A substance being studied in the treatment of prostate cancer and in the prevention of cervical cancer. DIM is found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and kale. It is a type of plant indole. Also called diindolylmethane and BioResponse-DIM.
dimesna A drug that belongs to the family of drugs called chemoprotective agents.
dimethyl sulfoxide A colorless liquid that readily dissolves many chemicals and penetrates animal and plant tissues. It is used in human medicine, veterinary medicine, and pharmaceuticals.
dimethylxanthenone acetic acid An anticancer drug that is a type of angiogenesis inhibitor.
diphenhydramine A drug used to treat allergies and relieve cough and itching caused by insect bites, sunburn and poison oak or ivy. It is also used to treat mild Parkinson's disease, to prevent and treat motion sickness, to relieve cough and cold symptoms and as a sleep aid. It belongs to the family of drugs called antihistamines.
diphosphonate A drug used to treat osteoporosis and the bone pain caused by some types of cancer. Also called bisphosphonate.
dipyridamole A drug that prevents blood cell clumping and enhances the effectiveness of fluorouracil and other chemotherapeutic agents.
discharge In medicine, a fluid that comes out of the body. Discharge can be normal or a sign of disease. Discharge also means release of a patient from care.
disease progression Cancer that continues to grow or spread.
disease-free survival Length of time after treatment during which no cancer is found. Can be reported for an individual patient or for a study population.
disease-specific survival The percentage of subjects in a study who have survived a particular disease for a defined period of time. Usually reported as time since diagnosis or treatment. In calculating this percentage, only deaths from the disease being studied are counted. Subjects who died from some other cause are not included in the calculation.
disorder In medicine, a disturbance of normal functioning of the mind or body. Disorders may be caused by genetic factors, disease or trauma.
disseminate Scatter or distribute over a large area or range.
distal In medicine, refers to a part of the body that is farther away from the center of the body than another part. For example, the fingers are distal to the shoulder. The opposite is proximal.
distal pancreatectomy Removal of the body and tail of the pancreas.
distant cancer Refers to cancer that has spread from the original (primary) tumor to distant organs or distant lymph nodes. Also known as distant metastasis.
distant metastasis Refers to cancer that has spread from the original (primary) tumor to distant organs or distant lymph nodes. Also known as distant cancer.
distraction In medicine, a pain relief method that takes the patient's attention away from the pain.
distress Extreme mental or physical pain or suffering.
disulfiram A drug that slows the metabolism of retinoids, allowing them to act over a longer period of time.
diuretic A drug that increases the production of urine.
diverticulosis A condition marked by small sacs or pouches (diverticula) in the walls of an organ such as the stomach or colon. These sacs can become inflamed and cause a condition called diverticulitis, which may be a risk factor for certain types of cancer.
DJ-927 A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called taxane derivatives.
DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid. The molecules inside cells that carry genetic information and pass it from one generation to the next. Also called deoxyribonucleic acid.
DNR order Do not resuscitate order. A type of advance directive in which a person states that healthcare providers should not perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (restarting the heart) if his or her heart or breathing stops.
do not resuscitate order DNR order. A type of advance directive in which a person states that healthcare providers should not perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (restarting the heart) if his or her heart or breathing stops.
docetaxel A drug used together with other drugs to treat certain types of breast cancer, stomach cancer, prostate cancer, and certain types of head and neck cancer. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Docetaxel belongs to the family of drugs called mitotic inhibitors. Also called Taxotere.
dock Rumex acetosella. A plant that has been used in some cultures to treat certain medical problems. It may have anticancer effects. Also called sheep sorrel and sorrel.
dolasetron A drug that prevents or reduces nausea and vomiting. It belongs to the family of drugs called antiemetics.
dolastatin 10 An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called mitotic inhibitors.
donepezil A drug used in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. It belongs to the family of drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors. It is being studied in the treatment of side effects caused by radiation therapy to the brain.
dong quai Angelica sinensis. An herb native to China. A substance taken from the roots has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat menstrual and menopausal problems. Dong quai may increase the effect of the drug warfarin (a blood-thinner).
dose The amount of medicine taken, or radiation given, at one time.
dose-dense chemotherapy A chemotherapy treatment plan in which drugs are given with less time between treatments than in a standard chemotherapy treatment plan.
dose-dependent Refers to the effects of treatment with a drug. If the effects change when the dose of the drug is changed, the effects are said to be dose-dependent.
dose-limiting Describes side effects of a drug or other treatment that are serious enough to prevent an increase in dose or level of that treatment.
dose-rate The strength of a treatment given over a period of time.
dosimetrist A person who determines the proper radiation dose for treatment.
dosimetry Measurement of radiation exposure from X-rays, gamma rays or other types of radiation used in the treatment or detection of diseases, including cancer.
double-blinded A clinical trial in which neither the medical staff nor the person knows which of several possible therapies the person is receiving.
double-contrast barium enema A procedure in which X-rays of the colon and rectum are taken after a liquid containing barium is put into the rectum. Barium is a silver-white metallic compound that outlines the colon and rectum on an X-ray and helps show abnormalities. Air is put into the rectum and colon to further enhance the X-ray.
doubling time In biology, the amount of time it takes for one cell to divide or for a group of cells (such as a tumor) to double in size. The doubling time is different for different kinds of cancer cells or tumors.
douche A procedure in which water or a medicated solution is used to clean the vagina and cervix.
Down syndrome A disorder caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21 and characterized by mental retardation and distinguishing physical features.
doxercalciferol A substance that is being studied in the prevention of recurrent prostate cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called vitamin D analogs.
Doxil A form of the anticancer drug doxorubicin that may have fewer side effects and work better than doxorubicin. It is being studied in the treatment of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma and other types of cancer. It is a type of anthracycline antitumor antibiotic. Also called liposomal doxorubicin, pegylated liposomal doxorubicin, doxorubicin hydrochloride pegylated liposomes and Caelyx.
doxorubicin An anticancer drug that is a type of anthracycline antitumor antibiotic. Also called Adriamycin.
doxorubicin hydrochloride pegylated liposomes A form of the anticancer drug doxorubicin that may have fewer side effects and work better than doxorubicin. It is being studied in the treatment of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma and other types of cancer. It is a type of anthracycline antitumor antibiotic. Also called liposomal doxorubicin, pegylated liposomal doxorubicin, Caelyx and Doxil.
doxycycline An antibiotic drug used to treat infection.
DPA Durable power of attorney. A document that gives a person (such as a relative, lawyer, or friend) the authority to make legal or financial decisions for another person. It may become active immediately, or when that person loses the ability to make decisions for himself or herself, depending on how it is written. Also called durable power of attorney and power of attorney.
DPPE Belongs to a group of anti-hormone drugs.
drain In medicine, to remove fluid as it collects; or, a tube or wick-like device used to remove fluid from a body cavity, wound or infected area.
DRE Digital rectal examination. An examination in which a doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel for abnormalities. Also called digital rectal examination.
dronabinol A synthetic pill form of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active ingredient in marijuana that is used to treat nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy.
droperidol A drug that is used to prevent nausea and vomiting in patients who receive anesthesia before surgery. It is also used to treat anxiety. Droperidol belongs to the families of drugs called antiemetics, adjunct anesthesia and antipsychotics.
drug Any substance, other than food, that is used to prevent, diagnose, treat or relieve symptoms of a disease or abnormal condition. Also refers to a substance that alters mood or body function, or that can be habit-forming or addictive, especially a narcotic.
drug abuse The use of illegal drugs or the use of prescription or over-the-counter drugs for purposes other than those for which they are meant to be used, or in large amounts. Drug abuse may lead to social, physical, emotional and job-related problems.
drug interaction A change in the way a drug acts in the body when taken with certain other drugs, herbals, or foods, or when taken with certain medical conditions. Drug interactions may cause the drug to be more or less effective, or cause effects on the body that are not expected.
drug resistance The failure of cancer cells, viruses or bacteria to respond to a drug used to kill or weaken them. The cells, viruses or bacteria may be resistant to the drug at the beginning of treatment, or may become resistant after being exposed to the drug.
drug tolerance A condition that occurs when the body gets used to a medicine so that either more medicine is needed or different medicine is needed.
dry orgasm Sexual climax without the release of semen from the penis.
DSMB Data and Safety Monitoring Board. An impartial group that oversees a clinical trial and reviews the results to see if they are acceptable. This group determines if the trial should be changed or closed. Also called Data and Safety Monitoring Board.
DTGM fusion protein An anticancer drug formed by the combination of diphtheria toxin and a colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). The colony-stimulating factor is attracted to cancer cells, and the diphtheria toxin kills the cells.
DU 145 A cell line made from human prostate cancer cells that is used in the laboratory to study the way prostate cancer cells grow.
duct In medicine, a tube or vessel of the body through which fluids pass.
ductal carcinoma The most common type of breast cancer. It begins in the cells that line the milk ducts in the breast.
ductal carcinoma in situ DCIS. A noninvasive condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct. The abnormal cells have not spread outside the duct to other tissues in the breast. In some cases, ductal carcinoma in situ may become invasive cancer and spread to other tissues, although it is not known at this time how to predict which lesions will become invasive. Also called DCIS and intraductal carcinoma.
ductal lavage A method used to collect cells from milk ducts in the breast. A hair-size catheter (tube) is inserted into the nipple, and a small amount of salt water is released into the duct. The water picks up breast cells, and is removed. The cells are checked under a microscope. Ductal lavage may be used in addition to clinical breast examination and mammography to detect breast cancer.
Dukes' A colorectal cancer Cancer has spread beyond the innermost lining of the colon and/or rectum to the second and third layers and involves the inside wall of the colon and/or rectum, but it has not spread to the outer wall or outside the colon and/or rectum. Also called stage I colorectal cancer.
Dukes' B colorectal cancer Cancer has spread outside the colon and/or rectum to nearby tissue, but it has not gone into the lymph nodes. Also called stage II colorectal cancer.
Dukes' C colorectal cancer Tumor cells have spread to organs and lymph nodes near the colon/rectum. Also called stage III colorectal cancer.
Dukes' classification A staging system used to describe the extent of colorectal cancer. Stages range from A (early stage) to D (advanced stage).
Dukes' D colorectal cancer Cancer may have spread to nearby lymph nodes and has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver or lungs. Also called stage IV colorectal cancer.
dumping syndrome A condition that occurs when food or liquid moves too fast into the small intestine. Symptoms include cramps, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, weakness and dizziness. Dumping syndrome sometimes occurs in people who have had part or all of their stomach removed.
duodenitis Inflammation of the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine that connects to the stomach).
duodenum The first part of the small intestine that connects to the stomach.
durable power of attorney DPA. A document that A power of attorney gives an individual (such as a relative, lawyer or friend) the authority to make legal or financial decisions for another. person. It may become active immediately, or when that person loses the ability to make decisions for himself or herself, depending on how it is written. Also called power of attorney.
dutasteride A drug used to treat symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland. It is being studied in the treatment of male hair loss and prostate cancer. Dutasteride blocks enzymes the body needs to make male sex hormones. It is a type of 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. Also called Avodart and GG745.
DX-52-1 An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called antitumor antibiotics. It is an anthracycline.
DX-8951f An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called topoisomerase inhibitors. Also called exatecan mesylate.
dyscrasia Disease. Usually refers to diseases of the blood.
dysesthesia A condition in which a sense, especially touch, is distorted. Dysesthesia can cause an ordinary stimulus to be unpleasant or painful. It can also cause insensitivity to a stimulus.
dysfunction A state of not functioning normally.
dysgeusia A bad taste in the mouth. Also called parageusia.
dyspepsia Upset stomach.
dysphagia Difficulty swallowing.
dysphonia Trouble with the voice when trying to talk, including hoarseness and change in pitch or quality or voice.
dysplasia Cells that look abnormal under a microscope but are not cancer.
dysplastic nevi Atypical moles; moles whose appearance is different from that of common moles. Dysplastic nevi are generally larger than ordinary moles and have irregular and indistinct borders. Their color frequently is not uniform and ranges from pink to dark brown; they usually are flat, but parts may be raised above the skin surface.
dysplastic nevus An atypical mole; a mole whose appearance is different from that of a common mole. A dysplastic nevus is generally larger than an ordinary mole and has irregular and indistinct borders. Its color frequently is not uniform and ranges from pink to dark brown; it is usually flat, but parts may be raised above the skin surface.
dyspnea Difficult, painful breathing or shortness of breath.