Words to Know

blood cell count

A test to check the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in a sample of blood. Also called CBC and complete blood count.

blood chemistry study

A procedure in which a sample of blood is examined to measure the amounts of certain substances made in the body. An abnormal amount of a substance can be a sign of disease in the organ or tissue that produces it.

blood-brain barrier disruption

The use of medicines to create openings between cells in the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier is a protective network of blood vessels and tissue that protects the brain from harmful substances, but can also prevent anticancer medicines from reaching the brain. Once the barrier is opened, anticancer medicines may be infused into an artery that goes to the brain, in order to treat brain tumors. Also called BBBD.

blood-brain barrier

A network of blood vessels and tissue that is made up of closely spaced cells and helps keep harmful substances from reaching the brain. The blood-brain barrier lets some substances, such as water, oxygen, carbon dioxide and general anesthetics pass into the brain. It also keeps out bacteria and other substances, such as many anticancer medicines. Also called BBB.

board certified oncology pharmacy specialist

A licensed pharmacist with special training in how to design, give, monitor and change chemotherapy. Also called BCOP and oncology pharmacy specialist.

body image

The way a person thinks and feels about his or her body and how it looks to others.

body mass index

A measure that relates body weight to height. BMI is sometimes used to measure total body fat and whether a person is a healthy weight. Excess body fat is linked to an increased risk of some diseases including heart disease and some cancers. Also called BMI.

bolus dose

A single dose of a medicine or other substance given over a short period of time. It is usually given by infusion or injection into a blood vessel. It may also be given by mouth.

bone density

A measure of the amount of minerals, mostly calcium and phosphorous, contained in a certain volume of bone. Bone density measurements are used to diagnose osteoporosis, a condition marked by decreased bone mass, to see how well osteoporosis treatments are working and to predict how likely the bones are to break. Low bone density can occur in individuals treated for cancer. Also called BMD, bone mass and bone mineral density.

bone metastasis

Cancer that has spread from the original (primary) tumor to the bone.

bone mineral density scan

An imaging test that measures bone density (the amount of bone mineral contained in a certain volume of bone) by passing X-rays with two different energy levels through the bone. It is used to diagnose osteoporosis (decrease in bone mass and density). Also called BMD scan, DEXA, DEXA scan, dual energy X-ray absorptiometric scan, dual X-ray absorptiometry and DXA.

bone scan

A technique to create images of bones on a computer screen or on film. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into a blood vessel and travels through the bloodstream; it collects in the bones and is detected by a scanner.

bone-seeking radioisotope

A radioactive substance that is given through a vein, and collects in bone cells and in tumor cells that have spread to the bone. It kills cancer cells by giving off low-level radiation.

brachytherapy

A type of radiation therapy in which radioactive material sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters is placed directly into or near a tumor. Also called implant radiation therapy, internal radiation therapy and radiation brachytherapy.

brain metastasis

Cancer that has spread from the original (primary) tumor to the brain.

BRCA1

A gene on chromosome 17 that normally helps to suppress cell growth. A person who inherits certain mutations, or changes, in a BRCA1 gene has a higher risk of getting breast, ovarian, prostate and other types of cancer.

BRCA2

A gene on chromosome 13 that normally helps to suppress cell growth. A person who inherits certain mutations, or changes, in a BRCA2 gene has a higher risk of getting breast, ovarian, prostate and other types of cancer.

BRCAPro

A computer program that uses statistics to predict whether a person has an inherited mutation, or change, in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. People who have certain mutations in these genes have a higher than normal risk of breast, ovarian, prostate and other types of cancer. The program is based on personal and family medical histories of breast and ovarian cancer.

breast carcinoma in situ

Also called stage 0 breast carcinoma in situ. There are two types of breast carcinoma in situ: ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS). DCIS is a noninvasive condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct, a tube that carries milk to the nipple. 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 how to predict which lesions will become invasive cancer. LCIS is a condition in which abnormal cells are found in the breast lobules, small sections of tissue involved with making milk. This condition seldom becomes invasive cancer; however, having LCIS in one breast increases the risk of developing breast cancer in either breast.

breast density

Describes the relative amount of different tissues present in the breast. A dense breast has less fat than glandular and connective tissue. Mammogram films of breasts with higher density are harder to read and interpret than those of less-dense breasts.