Barium Swallow: patient drinks a liquid containing barium, the barium coats the esophageal lining, making any abnormal growth visible in x-rays.

Barium Upper GI Radiograph: air is pumped into the stomach through a swallowed tube after the patient has drunk the barium-containing liquid. The air makes the barium coating thinner and better able to illustrate smaller areas of malignant growth.

Benign Tumors: non-cancerous, do not spread.

Biological Therapies: make use of products of the body’s own immune system. In a healthy person antibodies fight infection. Laboratory-made antibodies can fulfill the same function.

Biopsy: when a pathologist removes a piece of tissue from a possible cancerous growth for examination under a microscope.

Bone Marrow Transplantation: supplies the patient with stem cells, which are cells that can develop into other types of cells. The stem cells replace those that have been damaged by other treatments. They can be transplanted from another person or from the patient, only if the cells have been removed and treated for cancer outside the patient’s body.

Brachytherapy: A procedure in which radioactive material sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters is placed directly into or near a tumor. Also called internal radiation, implant radiation, or interstitial radiation therapy.


Catheter: releases harmless dye that outlines the structure of the ducts (during ERCP).

Chemotherapy: involves the injection of anticancer drugs into the bloodstream. The drugs kill cells that are growing rapidly, thus non-cancerous cells can be killed as well.

Computerized Tomography (CT Scan): type of x-ray that can take very detailed pictures; used to detect tumors and report on their size, shape and position. During CT scan, patient, lying down, is moved through a ring, which takes pictures in sequence. A contrast dye is injected through an IV so internal structures can be seen more clearly on the pictures. Together, the pictures create a thorough internal image of the body.


Direct Laryngoscopy: a thin, lighted tube is inserted through the nose or mouth for the physician to see through. Duct: a tube or vessel in the body through which fluid passes.


Electrocautery: A procedure that uses an electrical current to create heat. This is sometimes used to remove lesions or control bleeding.

Endoluminal stent placement: A procedure to insert a stent (a thin, expandable tube) in order to keep a passage (such as arteries or the esophagus) open. For tumors blocking the opening to the stomach, surgery may be done to place a stent from the esophagus to the stomach to allow the patient to eat normally.

Endoscopic laser surgery: A procedure in which an endoscope (a thin, lighted tube) with a laser attached is inserted into the body. A laser is an intense beam of light that can be used as a knife.

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): an endoscope is passed through the body via the mouth towards the small intestine where a catheter is inserted.

Esophascopy: long, thin, lighted tube (endoscope) is inserted in the patient’s esophagus to allow the physician to look closely at the lining.


Fecal Occult Blood Test: small sample of patient’s stool is examined under a microscope to detect presence of hidden occult blood, indicating possible malignant growth.


Gastrectomy: an operation to remove all or part of the stomach for patients who suffer from stomach cancer.


Indirect Laryngoscopy: physician uses a long, small mirror to see down the throat.


Laser Therapy: can reduce symptoms by relieving the esophagus of blockages.

Lymphaniograms: dye is injected into the lymphatic system, after which an x-ray is taken to outline the lymphatic vessels.

Lymphatic System: made up of the tissues and organs that generate white blood cells, fight infections and diseases, and carry them around the body. The Spleen, bone marrow, tonsils, thymus, lymph nodes, and lymphatic vessels are part of this system.

Lymph Nodes: organs that cluster in the groin, underarms, neck, chest and abdomen; filter lymph and store lymphocytes.


Malignant Tumors: attack surrounding blood cells and organs; enter the networks of the bloodstream and lymphatic system, spreading cancerous growth to any part of the body.

Metastasis: spread of cancer from one organ or part of the body to another.

Monoclonal Antibody: Laboratory-produced substance that can locate and bind to cancer cells wherever they are in the body. Many monoclonal antibodies are used in cancer detection or therapy; each one recognizes a different protein on certain cancer cells. Monoclonal antibodies can be used alone, or they can be used to deliver drugs, toxins, or radioactive material directly to a tumor.


Nasopharyngoscopy: thin-lighted tube (endoscope) is inserted in the patients nasopharynx (upper portion behind the nose) to allow the physician to look at it more closely.


Oral Cavity: consists of the lips, the lining of the cheeks and the lips, the front of the tongue, gums, hard palate and the area behind the wisdom teeth.


Pancreas: pear shaped gland stretching lengthwise across the abdomen between the spine and the stomach, which performs two functions: releases hormones into the bloodstream, most notably insulin, and also produces enzymes, which break down fats and proteins to help digest food.

Panendoscopy: performed if laryngeal cancer is highly suspected; while asleep under general anesthesia, a surgeon views the entire area with the aid of an endoscope.

Percutaneous Transhepatic Cholangiography (PTC): harmless dye is injected to the liver through the skin. An x-ray is taken showing if or where there are blockages in the bile ducts, which can indicate tumorous growth.

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT): type of laser therapy whereby cancer cells absorb certain drugs. When exposed to a special light, the drugs become activated, and kill cancer cells.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET Scans): used to determine if a cancer has spread. PET scan detects radioactive material from radioactive glucose injected into the patient’s body, which then create detailed pictures of the tumors.

PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen): A substance produced by the prostate that may be found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, or infection or inflammation of the prostate.


Radiation Therapy: kills cancer cells with intense x-rays aimed only at the cancerous growth. Radiation is emitted from outside the patient’s body or radioactive materials can be placed internally to the targeted area (brachytherapy). Alone, radiotherapy is usually used for patients with small tumors or who cannot have surgery. Radiotherapy is often used to shrink tumors before surgery or suppress post-surgery cancerous growth. Risk Factor: habit or condition that increases the chances for developing cancerous growth.

Radionuclide Scanning: test that produces pictures f internal parts of the body. The person is given an injection or swallows a small amount of radioactive material; a machine called a scanner then measures the radioactivity in certain organs.


Surgery: procedure that removes the cancer and surrounding tissue or helps to detect cancerous growth; an operation.

Ultrasound: utilizes inaudible sound waves, which bounce off internal organs and create a picture of the internal body. Externally an ultrasound device is placed on the abdomen, which is referred to a transabdominal ultrasound. Internally an endoscope is inserted into the body via the mouth to the small intestine, known as endoscopic ultrasound.

Whipple Procedure: often used for tumors in the widest portion of the pancreas. The head of the pancreas, the bile duct, the gallbladder, a portion of the small intestine and the stomach are removed.