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Glossary of Sarcoma Terms

A

adjuvant therapy

chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy used to kill remaining cancer cells left behind after surgery.

B

benign

a non-cancerous tumor. These tumors do not invade nearby tissue or spread to other parts of the body. Benign tumors usually can be removed and are seldom a threat to life.

biopsy

a surgical procedure in which a piece of tissues removed by a needle or an incision and sent to pathology to determine if it is benign or malignant (see malignant).

C

chemotherapy

drugs that fight cancer; treatment of illness by chemical means.

chemotherapy nurse

a nurse trained to administer chemotherapy.

chondrosarcoma

a cancer that forms cartilage.

E

echondroma

a benign bone tumor of cartilage inside the bone.

Ewing sarcoma

a bone cancer that affects young individuals; most often treated with chemotherapy and surgery.

F

fibrosarcoma

a form of bone cancer (occasionally soft tissue sarcoma) that occurs mainly in middle-aged and elderly people.

G

grade

low, intermediate, or high designations indicating aggressivess in cancer.

L

limb salvage surgery (LSS)

surgery done to remove a tumor while saving the extremity, thus avoiding an amputation.

Liposarcoma

a fatty, soft tissue sarcoma.

localized

cancer affecting only the cells of a certain area.

M

malignant

indicates that cancer cells are present and may spread to other parts of the body.

malignant fibrous histiocytoma (MFH)

the most common soft tissue sarcoma.

malignant transformation

the rare occasion when a benign tumor changes into its malignant counterpart, for example a lipoma into a liposarcoma.

margins

the periphery or edges of the surgical resection around the tumor. Clear margins imply the tumor has been completely removed.

medical oncologist

physician who specializes in chemotherapy for cancer.

metabolic bone disease

not a neoplasm but a bone disease that weakens the skeleton. Examples are: osteoporosis, Paget's disease, rickets, renal osteodystrophy, osteogenesis imperfecta, and osteomalacia.

metastasis

the spread of cancer from one area of the body to another. For example: bone cancer may spread to the lungs.

N

neo-adjuvant therapy

chemotherapy given before surgery or radiotherapy.

O

oncologist

a physician who specializes in cancer.

S

steomyelitis

a bone infection.

O

osteoporosis

decreased bone density. Not a tumor. "Weak bones".

osteosarcoma

the most common cancer of the bone that occurs in children.Also called osteogenic sarcoma.

P

pathologic fracture

a break in a bone caused by growth of a benign or malignant tumor. The tumor growth weakens the bone sufficiently for it to break.

pathologist

a doctor who identifies diseases(such as cancer) by studying cells under a microscope.

prognosis

the expected outcome of a disease and chances for recovery.

prosthesis

an artificial replacement for a body part.

R

radiation oncologist

a physician who specializes in radiation treatments for cancer.

radiation therapy (radiotherapy)

therapy that uses high energy rays or radioactive materials to damage cancer cells, making it more difficult for them to grow in number.Side effects are "sunburned" skin, stiffness and swelling.

reoccurance

the development of cancerous cells in the same area or another area of the body after cancer treatment.

rhabdomyosarcoma

the most common soft tissue sarcoma of children, occurring in the muscle.

S

sarcoma

a type of cancer that starts in bone or connective tissue.

skeletal sarcoma

a cancer originating in bone.

soft tissue sarcoma

a sarcoma that begins in the muscle, fat, fibrous tissue, blood vessels, or other supporting tissues of the body. Not a type of bone cancer.

stages of cancer

the progression of cancer from mild to severe. Usually indicates if it has spread to deeper tissues or other parts of the body. One method used by doctors to stage different types of cancer is the TNM classification system. In this system, doctors determine the presence and size of the tumor(T), how many(if any) lymph nodes are involved(N) and whether or not the cancer has metastasized(M). A number (usually 0-4) is assigned to each of the three categories to indicate its severity.

staging

the process of learning about the extent of the tumor and whether the disease has spread from its original site to other parts of the body.

X

x-ray

high-energy radiation. Used in low doses to diagnose diseases and in high doses to treat cancer.