The area of the body that contains the pancreas, stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder, and other organs. The kidneys are located behind the abdominal cavity.
- active surveillance
Closely monitoring a patient's condition but withholding treatment until symptoms appear or change.
Symptoms or signs that begin and worsen quickly.
The use of other therapies after performing surgery for cancer. Adjuvant therapies are given when there are no obvious cancer cells remaining but a patient is determined to have a higher risk of having a recurrence. It is given in order to reduce the risk of a cancer recurrence.
- adoptive T-cell transfer
A new approach in IO that enhances the natural cancer-fighting ability of the body’s T-cells. Immune cells from the blood or tumours of cancer patients are harvested, grown in the lab, and then injectd back into patients.
- adrenal gland
A small gland that makes steroid hormones and stress hormones, including adrenaline. These hormones help control heart rate, blood pressure, and other important body functions. There is one adrenal gland on top of each kidney.
- Afinitor (RAD001, everolimus)
A drug used to treat advanced kidney cancer. Afinitor is also used in the treatment of other types of cancer. Afinitor stops cancer cells from dividing and may block the growth of new blood vessels that tumours need to grow. It also decreases the body’s immune responses. Everolimus (Afinitor) is a drug that is taken orally.
Blood vessel formation. Tumour angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels that grow into the tumour, giving it nutrients and oxygen to assist its growth.
Prevention of the growth of new blood vessels required for cancer growth.
An antibody is a protein produced plasma cells that helps the immune system to identify and neutralize pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.
A substance that causes the immune system to produce antibodies and respond.
- arterial embolisation
The blocking of an artery by a plug of foreign material. This can be done as treatment to block the flow of blood to a tumour and is sometimes done prior to kidney surgery.
Having no symptoms of disease.
An initial measurement that is taken at an early time point or prior to the start of therapy to represent a beginning condition, and is used for comparison over time to look for changes. For example, the size of a tumour will be measured before treatment (baseline) and then afterwards to see if the treatment had an effect.
Not cancerous. Benign tumours may grow larger but do not spread to other parts of the body. These tumours are also called non-malignant.
Affecting both sides of the body.
The removal of cells or tissues for examination by a pathologist. The pathologist may study the tissue under a microscope or perform other tests on the cells or tissue. There are many different types of biopsy procedures. The most common types include:
- Birt-Hogg-Dube Syndrome
An inherited condition in which benign tumours develop in hair follicles on the head, chest, back, and arms. People who have this disorder are at increased risk of developing kidney cancer and benign kidney tumours.
Concealing the allocation of which treatment the patient is taking. Blinding means concealing the allocation of which treatment the patient is taking. The power of persuasion is very strong, and people can often feel much better for taking a treatment, any treatment. In many trials patients are therefore “blinded” to which treatment they are taking.
- bone scan
A technique used to create images of bones. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into the bloodstream and it collects in the bones at any site of increased metabolic activity. These sites can represent injury, infection, inflammation (arthritis) or cancer.
A term for diseases in which an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells happens which can invade and destroy nearby healthy tissues. Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.
Cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs.
The individual unit that makes up the tissues of the body.
- checkpoint inhibitor
Checkpoint inhibitors are medications that aim to release the brakes on the body's immune system so that it will be able to respond more aggressively against cancer cells.
Treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells.
A type of kidney cancer. This type accounts for only 5% of all kidneyc cancers. Chromophobe kidney cancer rarely spreads outside of the kidneys.
A disease or condition that persists or progresses over a long period of time.
- clear cell
A type of cell that looks clear inside when viewed under a microscope. Clear cell renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer
- clinical trial
A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of a disease. For further information on clinical trials please read here: Understanding clinical trials
- complete remission
The disappearance of all signs of cancer in response to treatment. This does not always mean the cancer has been cured.
Having to do with the opposite side of the body.
- control arm
The group of patients who take the standard therapy. Or if no therapy is proven useful in this situation, then patients may take a placebo, or best supportive care.
A compound that is excreted from the body in urine. Creatinine levels are measured to monitor kidney function.
A procedure in which tissue is frozen tocdestroy abnormal cells. This is usually done with a special instrument that contains liquidcnitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide. A kidney tumour can be treated by positioning of thecinstrument by laparoscopy or sometimes with x-ray guidance.
- CT scan
A series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body taken from different angles using x-rays.
- CTLA-4 inhibitors
A type of immune checkpoint inhibitor - a type of immunotherapy that helps in controlling the body’s immune response to cancer.
Cytokines are substances made by cells of the immune system in response to infection, injury or tumour. Some cytokines can boost the immune response and others can suppress it. Cytokines can also be made in the laboratory and used in the treatment of various diseases, including cancer. Interferon and interleukin-2 are types of cytokine therapies used in the treatment of kidney cancer.
Surgical removal of as much of a tumour as possible. Debulking may increase the chance that chemotherapy or radiation therapy will kill all the tumour cells. It may also be done to relieve symptoms or help the patient live longer.
- dendritic cell
Antigen-presenting cells of the immune sytem. They are presenting foreign proteins to other immune cells which then destroy the intruders.
- disease progression
Cancer that continues to grow or spread.
The ECOG performance status is a scale used to assess how a patient's disease is progressing, assess how the disease affects the daily living abilities of the patient, and determine appropriate treatment and prognosis. ECOG = Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Grade 0: Fully active, able to carry on all pre-disease performance without restriction Grade 1 : Restricted in physically strenuous activity but ambulatory and able to carry out work of a light or sedentary nature, e.g., light house work, office work Grade 2 : Ambulatory and capable of all selfcare but unable to carry out any work activities. Up and about more than 50% of waking hours Grade 3 : Capable of only limited selfcare, confined to bed or chair more than 50% of waking hours Grade 4 : Completely disabled. Cannot carry on any selfcare. Totally confined to bed or chair Grade 5 : Dead Source: Oken MM, Creech RH, Tormey DC et-al. Toxicity and response criteria of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group. Am. J. Clin. Oncol. 1983;5 (6): 649-55.
Swelling caused by excess fluid in body tissues.
- Gamma Knife therapy
The gamma rays are aimed at the tumour from many different angles at once, and deliver a large dose of radiation exactly to the tumour in one treatment session. This procedure is a type of stereotactic radiosurgery. Gamma Knife therapy is not a knife and is not surgery. Gamma Knife is a registered trademark of Elekta Instruments, Inc.
The functional and physical unit of heredity passed from parent to offspring. Genes are pieces of DNA, and most genes contain the information for making a specific protein.
Inherited; having to do with information that is passed from parents to offspring through genes in sperm and egg cells.
- Gerota’s fascia
A fibrous envelope of tissue that surrounds the kidney.
A description of a tumour based on how abnormal the cancer cells look under a microscope and how quickly the tumour is likely to grow and spread. Grading systemsFor further information read here.
A system for classifying cancer cells in terms of how abnormal they appear when examined under a microscope. The grading system is used to provide information about the probable growth rate of the tumour and its tendency to spread.
- hand/foot syndrome
A condition marked by pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, or redness of the hands or feet. It sometimes occurs as a side effect of certain anticancer drugs.
Originating in the blood or spread through the bloodstream.
Blood in the urine. Sometimes the blood can only be seen by using a microscope.
The part of red blood cells that carries oxygen to the tissues of the body. Used as a blood test to measure a person’s red blood cell content.
toxic for the liver, thus causing liver problems
- immune system
The complex group of organs, tissues and cells that defends the body against infections and other diseases.
Immuno-oncology (IO) therapy is a way to treat cancer by activating your immune system in the hope that it will attack your tumour. The terms “immunotherapy” and “immuno-oncology” are sometimes used to mean the same thing. Both immunotherapy and I.O. therapy activate the immune system. The difference is that I.O. therapies are specifically designed to treat cancer, whereas immunotherapies can be used to treat other diseases.
- immunomodulating drug
drug given to adjust the immune response to a desired level
Treatment to boost or restore the ability of the immune system to fight cancer, infections, and other diseases. Agents used in immunotherapy include monoclonal antibodies, growth factors, and vaccines. These agents may also have a direct anti-tumour effect. The terms “immunotherapy” and “immuno-oncology” are sometimes used to mean the same thing. Both immunotherapy and I.O. therapy activate the immune system. The difference is that I.O. therapies are specifically designed to treat cancer, whereas immunotherapies can be used to treat other diseases.
A biological response modifier (a substance that can improve the body's natural response to infections and other diseases). Interferons interfere with the division of cancer cells and can slow tumour growth. The body normally produces these substances. They are also made in the laboratory to treat cancer and other diseases.
One of a group of related proteins made by leukocytes (white blood cells) and other cells in the body. Interleukins regulate immune responses. Interleukins made in the laboratory are used to boost the immune system in cancer therapy. An interleukin is a type of cytokine.
- Karnofsky index
The Karnofsky performance status is an attempt to quantify cancer patients' general well-being and activities of daily life.
One of a pair of organs located behind the abdominal cavity. Kidneys remove waste from the blood (as urine), produce erythropoietin (a substance that stimulates red blood cell production), and play a role in blood pressure regulation.
A procedure that uses a laparoscope to examine the organs inside the abdomen. Other tools are also passed through the abdominal wall to remove tissue (such as a kidney containing cancer).
An area of abnormal tissue. A lesion may be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).
Restricted to the primary (original) site, without evidence of spread. A localised kidney cancer is confined to the kidney.
- locally advanced cancer
Cancer that has spread from where it originally started to nearby tissue or lymph nodes.
The clear fluid that travels through the lymphatic system and carries cells that help fight infections and other diseases.
- lymph node
A rounded piece of lymphatic tissue that is surrounded by a capsule of connective tissue. Lymph nodes filter lymph (lymphatic fluid), and they store lymphocytes (a type white blood cell). They are located along lymphatic vessels.
- lymphatic system
The tissues and organs that produce, store, and carry white blood cells that fight infections and other diseases. This system includes the bone marrow, spleen, thymus, lymph nodes, and lymphatic vessels (a network of thin tubes that carry lymph and white blood cells). Lymphatic vessels branch, like blood vessels, into all the tissues of the body.
A tumour made up of cancer cells.
The edge or border of the tissue removed in cancer surgery. The margin is described as negative or clean when the pathologist finds no cancer cells at the edge of the tissue, suggesting that all of the cancer has been removed. The margin is described as positive or involved when the pathologist finds cancer cells at the edge of the tissue, suggesting that all of the cancer may not have been removed.
A lump in the body. It may be caused by the abnormal growth of cells, a cyst, hormonal changes, or an immune reaction. A mass may be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).
- measurable disease
A tumour that can be accurately measured in size. This information can be used to judge response to treatment.
The spread of cancer from its original (primary) site to other parts of the body. A tumour formed by cells that have spread is called a “metastatic tumour” or a “metastasis.” The metastatic tumour contains cells that are like those in the original (primary) tumour. The plural form of metastasis is metastases.
To spread from one part of the body to another. When cancer cells metastasise and form secondary tumours, the cells in the metastatic tumour are like those in the original (primary) tumour. So if the original (primary) tumour is kidney cancer and it spreads to the lungs, the metastasis in the lungs is kidney cancer and not lung cancer.
Small numbers of cancer cells that have spread from the original (primary) tumour to other parts of the body but are too few to be picked up in a screening or diagnostic test.
The smallest particle of a substance that has all of the physical and chemical properties of that substance. Molecules are made up of one or more atoms. Biological molecules, such as proteins and DNA, can be made up of many thousands of atoms.
- monoclonal antibody
A special type of protein designed in the laboratory to attack cancer cells. Monoclonal antibodies are designed to target antigens, or markers, located on the surface of cancer cells; antibodies locate antigens and recruit immune cells to attack.
A type of scan that uses a magnet, radio waves and a computer to make detailed pictures of the inside of the body. These pictures can show the difference between normal and diseased tissue.
A complication of some cancer therapies in which the lining of the digestive system becomes inflamed: often seen as sores in the mouth.
Cancer in which there is more than one tumour, each of which has arisen from one original (primary) tumour.
A feeling of sickness or discomfort in the stomach that may come with an urge to vomit. Nausea is a side effect of some types of cancer therapy.
no evidence of disease on radiological imaging.
- needle biopsy
The removal of tissue or fluid with a needle for examination under a microscope. When a wide needle is used, the procedure is called a core biopsy. When a thin needle is used, the procedure is called a fine-needle aspiration biopsy.
- neoadjuvant therapy
Treatment given as a first step to shrink a tumour before the main treatment (which is usually surgery) is given.
An abnormal growth of cells. This term usually refers to a malignant tumour.
The removal of the kidney by surgery.
Cellular structures in the kidney that filter blood and form urine.
Not cancerous. Non-malignant tumours may grow larger but do not spread to other parts of the body.
- objective response rate
Percentage of patients whose cancer shrinks (partial response) and/or disappears(complete response) after treatment.
Closely monitoring a patient's condition but withholding treatment until symptoms appear or change.
A gene that is a changed form of a gene involved in normal cell growth. Oncogenes may cause the growth of cancer cells. Changes in genes that become oncogenes can be inherited or caused by being exposed to substances in the environment that cause cancer.
A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment.
The type of medical practice that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
- oncology nurse
A nurse who specializes in treating and caring for people who have cancer.
- overall survival
The percentage of people in a study who are still alive at a defined time after they started treatment for their cancer.
Relief of symptoms and suffering caused by cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Palliation helps a patient feel more comfortable and improves the quality of life, but does not cure the disease.
- palliative care
Care given to improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease. The goal of palliative care is to prevent or treat as early as possible the symptoms of a disease, side effects caused by treatment of a disease, and psychological, social, and spiritual problems related to a disease or its treatment.
- palliative therapy
Treatment given to relieve the symptoms and reduce the suffering caused by cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Palliative cancer therapies are given together with other cancer treatments, from the time of diagnosis, through treatment, survivorship, recurrent or advanced disease, and at the end of life.
The second most common type of kidney cancer. Approximately 10-15% of kidney cancers are this subtype. For more information read here: 10 Steps to undestanding therapy options in kidney cancer
- partial response
A decrease in the size of a tumour or in the extent of cancer in the body, in response to treatment.
A doctor who identifies diseases by studying cells and tissues under a microscope.
A substance used for the treatment of cancer. It is a type of protein tyrosine kinase inhibitor and angiogenesis inhibitor. Pazopanib is a drug that is taken orally.
- PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors
These inhibitors belong to the family of so called checkpoint inhibitors - a type of immunotherapy that helps in controlling the body’s immune response to cancer.
Passing through the skin.
A dummy treatment that contains no active drug. It might be a capsule or tablet, it might be a bag of saline. Sometimes just thinking you are being treated can make you feel better. This is a common psychological phenomenon called the placebo effect. Because there are now effective treatments for kidney cancers, placebos are very rarely used in kidney cancer trials. If you are thinking of taking part in a trial with a placebo group, you need to think about how you will feel if you find out at the end of the trial that you were given the placebo. Some trials give the new treatment to the placebo group after the trial has ended, or swap the treatment and placebo groups during the trial. So even if you are in the placebo group at first, you might still get the new treatment later on. When you ask about a clinical trial, be sure to ask about whether any patients will receive a placebo.
- primary tumour
The originating site of tumour.
The likely outcome or course of a disease; the chance of recovery or recurrence. Some of the factors that affect a patient’s prognosis are the type of cancer, its stage, its grade, and its response to treatment.
The course of a disease, such as cancer, as it becomes worse or spreads in the body.
- progression-free survival
is a measure of the activity of a treatment on a disease. It is the time that passes from a certain date (generally the first day of treatment, or the day in which a patient is enrolled in a clinical trial) and the date on which disease "progresses" (worsens).
- progressive disease
Cancer that is growing, spreading, or getting worse.
A molecule made up of amino acids that are needed for the body to function properly. Proteins are the basis of body structures such as skin and hair and of substances such as enzymes, cytokines, and antibodies.
A detailed plan of a scientific or medical experiment, treatment, or procedure. In clinical trials, it states what the study will do, how it will be done, and why it is being done. It explains how many people will be in the study, who is eligible to take part in it, what study drugs or other interventions will be given, what tests will be done and how often, and what information will be collected.
Pruritus is the latin word for itch. It describes a sensation that causes the desire or reflex to scratch.
Cancer seems to worsen substantially before later improving. Up to 20% of people taking ipilimumab for melanoma, and up to 5% of people taking PD-1 antibodies like pembrolizumab or nivolumab in many cancers experience this so called pseudoprogression.
- radiation therapy
The use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons, and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumours. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy). Systemic radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance, such as a radio-labelled monoclonal antibody, that travels in the blood to tissues throughout thebody.
- radiofrequency ablation
A procedure that uses radio waves to heat and destroy a tumour. The radio waves travel through electrodes (small devices that carry electricity). Radiofrequency ablation may be used by laparoscopy, under ultrasound or by x-ray guidance.
A doctor who specializes in diagnosing disease by using procedures such as x-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans and MRI.
The use of radiation (such as x-rays) or other imaging technologies (such as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging) to diagnose or guide the treatment of disease.
Cancer that has come back usually after a period of time during which the cancer could not be detected. The cancer may come back to the same place as the original (primary) tumour or to another place in the body.
- red blood cell
A cell that carries oxygen to all parts of the body.
A decrease in the size of a tumour or in the extent of cancer in the body.
The return of signs and symptoms of cancer after a period of improvement.
A period of time when the cancer is under control and the person does not have any signs and symptoms of the cancer. In partial remission, some, but not all, signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared. In complete remission, all signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared, although cancer still may be in the body.
Having to do with the kidneys.
- Renal Cell Carcinoma
The most common kind of kidney cancer. It arises in the small tubes of the kidneys. In the majority of cases, this is the clear cell type.
- residual disease
Cancer cells that remain after attempts to remove the cancer have been made.
In medicine, an improvement related to treatment.
- second primary cancer
Refers to a new primary cancer in a person with a history of cancer.
- secondary cancer
A term that is used to describe a cancer that has spread from the place in which it started to other parts of the body. This term is also used to describe a second primary that has been caused by the treatment of the first cancer.
- side effect
An unwanted or undesirable effect resulting from treatment. Some common side effects of cancer treatment are fatigue, pain, nausea, vomiting, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss, and mouth sores. For more information on side effects of IO treatment please read here: 10 things to know about side effects
- stable disease
Cancer that is neither decreasing nor increasing in extent or severity.
The extent of a cancer in the body. Staging is usually based on the size of the tumour, whether lymph nodes contain cancer, and whether the cancer has spread from the original (primary) site to other parts of the body. To learn more about staging, please read here: Understanding therapy options in kidney cancer
Performing exams and tests to learn the extent of the cancer within the body, especially whether the disease has spread from the original site to other parts of the body.
- stereotactic radiation therapy
One form of SRT is called "Gamma Knife". Not a knife, but a form of targeted radiation.
A drug used to treat advanced kidney cancer and is being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. It is a type of tyrosine kinase inhibitor, a type of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)receptor inhibitor, and a type of angiogenesis inhibitor. Sutent is a drug that is taken orally.
A procedure to remove or repair a part of the body or to find out whether disease is present. An operation.
One who remains alive and continues to function during and after overcoming a serious hardship or life-threatening disease. The term cancer survivor includes anyone who has been recently diagnosed with, is living with, or has recovered from cancer.
In cancer, survivorship covers the physical, psychosocial, and economic issues of cancer, from diagnosis until the end of life. It focuses on the health and life of a person with cancer beyond the diagnosis and treatment phases. Survivorship includes issues related to the ability to get health care and follow-up treatment, late effects of treatment, second cancers, and quality of life. Family members, friends, and caregivers are also part of the survivorship experience.
An indication that a person has a condition or disease. Some examples of symptoms are headache, fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and pain.
Affecting the entire body.
- systemic therapy
Any treatment that reaches cells all over the body. Chemotherapy and targeted therapy are types of systemic therapy.
- targeted therapy
A type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances, such as monoclonal antibodies, to identify and attack specific cancer cells.
A group or layer of cells that work together to perform a specific function.
The degree to which a substance can have harmful effects.
- transitional cell carcinoma
A type of cancer that occurs in the urinary system arising from the transitional epithelium, a tissue that lines the inner surface of the bladder, the renal pelvis of the kidneys and the ureters. It is the second most common type of kidney cancer.
- treatment arm
The group of patients who take the new treatment being tested.
An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Tumours may be benign (not cancer), or malignant (cancer).
- tyrosine kinase inhibitor
A drug that interferes with cell communication and growth and may prevent tumour growth. Some tyrosine kinase inhibitors are used to treat cancer.
A technology that uses high-energy sound waves to take pictures of internal organs and other structures like blood vessels.
A doctor who specializes in diseases of the urinary organs in females and the urinary and sex organs in males.
- vascular endothelial growth factor
A substance made by cells that stimulates new blood vessel formation.
- VEGF inhibitor
A substance that blocks a growth factor needed to form blood vessels.
- Von Hippel Lindau (VHL) syndrome
A rare inherited disorder in which blood vessels grow abnormally in the eyes, brain, spinal cord, adrenal glands, or other parts of the body. People with VHL syndrome have a higher risk of developing kidney cancer as well as other cancers. For more information on hereditary kidney cancer please read here:
- white blood cell
A type of immune cell. Most white blood cells are made in the bone marrow and are found in the blood and lymph tissue. White blood cells (including leukocytes and lymphocytes) help the body fight infections and other diseases.
- Wilm’s tumour
A malignant tumour of the kidney occurring in young children.
A type of high-energy radiation. In low doses, x-rays are used to diagnose diseases by making pictures of the inside of the body. In high doses, x-rays are used to treat cancer.
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