Glossary

Last modification: 2024/01/15 https://kinderkrebsinfo.de/doi/e8939

This is a glossary of a number of special words and medical terms used by this information service.

A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P R S T U V W X    all  

abdomen
belly, gut

acinar cell carcinoma
malignant tumour resulting from certain glandular cells (acinar cells) of the salivary glands; acinar cells are found in the glandular ducts of various organs, especially in the salivary glands of the lower jaw, but also in the pancreas, liver and lungs.

active vaccination
The aim of active vaccination is to build up the bodys own protection against pathogens. In this process, killed or attenuated pathogens (inactivated or live vaccines) are given. The vaccination mimicks an infection against which the person’s immune system actively produces antibodies (within one to two weeks) without initiating the dise-ase itself. The antibodies provide long-lasting protection against the respective disease. In addition, the immune system forms so-called memory cells, which trigger a very rapid and even more effective immune response when it comes into contact with the pathogen again.

acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
lymphoblastic leukaemia, predominant form of leukaemia in childhood and adolescence

acute myeloid leukaemia
cancer of the myeloid line of blood cells; the second most common leukaemia type in childhood and adolescence
References: leukaemia

adenocarcinoma
malignant tumour arising from glandular tissue (glandular epithelium); adenocarcinomas can form in various organs, e.g. in the pancreas (pancreatic carcinoma), in the stomach (gastric carcinoma) or in the esophagus (esophageal carcinoma).

adenoma
tumour originating from glandular epithelial tissue
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: adenomas are rare tumours in childhood and adolescence, except in connection with multiple endocrine neoplasms (MEN).

adrenal medulla syn. medulla glandulae suprarenalis
tissue of the adrenal gland, which is made of various nerve cells, especially cells of the sympathetic (autonomic) nervous system
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: neuroblastomas can arise from abnormal immature cells of the adrenal medulla.

ALK gene syn. anaplastic lymphoma kinase
gene that codes for the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), a protein in the group of tyrosine kinases; the protein is mainly produced during embryonic development until shortly after birth and is thought to play an important role in the development and function of the nervous system. Through various mechanisms, the ALK gene can become an oncogene that promotes the development of malignant tumours.

alkaline phosphatase (Abrev.: AP)
enzyme in the liver, bones, mucous membranes of the small intestine, bile ducts; increased, for example, in patients with bone and liver metastases

alkylants
artificially produced (synthetic) substances that are used as cytostatics to prevent cancer cells from multiplying; basically, alkylants act by forming strong bonds with DNA and/or certain proteins in the cell nucleus, thereby destroying the genetic material and preventing its replication during cell division.

allele
The allele is the name given to the different expressions of a gene on the largely identical (homologous) chromosomes that are present in pairs. The two alleles of a gene are located in the same place (gene locus) of the homologous chromosomes; one comes from the father, one from the mother; a parent passes on only one of his or her two alleles to their offspring.

allogeneic
here: donation between two people; the Greek syllable "allos-" means different, genetically distinct individuals of the same species
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: allogeneic stem cell transplantation
References: allogeneic stem cell transplantation

allogeneic stem cell transplantation
transfer of stem cells from a donor to a recipient. The prerequisite for an allogeneic transplant is that the tissue characteristics of the donor and recipient are largely identical. The stem cells are obtained from the blood or bone marrow.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: For example, it plays a role in the treatment of patients with leukaemia or leukaemia recurrence.

alpha-1 fetoprotein (Abrev.: AFP)
protein produced in the yolk sac, the liver of the fetus (fetal liver) and the digestive tract (also in adults) and detectable in serum; AFP is increased during pregnancy and in infants. However, elevated serum AFP levels are also found in liver diseases (such as cirrhosis and hepatitis) and certain tumour diseases (such as liver, germ cell and pancreatic tumours).
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: AFP is used as a tumour marker for liver tumours (e.g., hepatoblastomas) and other tumours (e.g., germ cell or pancreatic tumours).

anaemia
„lack of blood“; reduction of the red blood pigment (haemoglobin) and/or the proportion of red blood cells (haematocrit) in the blood below the normal value typical for a given age. Signs of anaemia include palor, headache, dizziness, and fatigue.

anaesthesia syn. general anaesthesia
a type of anaesthesia in which the patient sleeps and reflex activity is reduced (= general anaesthesia); it leads to a complete insensitivity to pain, temperature and touch stimuli. Due to the reduced reflex activity, the patient is required to be on a ventilator during surgery.

anamnesis
medical interview, a patient’s history, development of signs of illness; the type, onset and course of the (current) symptoms as well as any risk factors (e.g. hereditary diseases) are evaluated during a medical interview.

Ann Arbor staging system
system for staging malignant lymphomas, especially Hodgkin lymphomas and certain forms of Non-Hodgkin lymphomas

anthracyclines
substances derived from certain types of bacteria or artificially produced; used as cytostatics, they prevent cell division in various ways; they can also damage the cell membrane and cause the cell to die. Anthracyclines include, for example, daunorubicin, doxorubicin, epirubicin, idarubicin and mitoxantrone.

antibiotics
natural metabolites of bacteria, fungi, algae, lichens and higher plants that have a (sometimes specific) growth-inhibiting or cell-killing effect against the smallest pathogens and other cells and are, therefore, used as drugs in the treatment of infectious diseases and/or cancer;
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: some antibiotics are used in paediatric cancer as cytostatics, others to treat infections or sepsis. Nowadays, many antibiotics are produced synthetically.

antibody
Antibodies are proteins from the group of globulins, which the bodys immune system forms as a defensive reaction to invading foreign substances or foreign structures (antigens). The antibodies bind specifically to these antigens and lead (in various ways) to the elimination of the pathogen. Antibodies are produced by a group of white blood cells, so-called B lymphocytes, which are known as "plasma cells" at the stage of antibody production.

antigen
substance that appears foreign to the body; it stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies against it and can trigger an allergic reaction.

aplastic anaemia (Abrev.: AA)
failure of bone marrow function with severely impaired formation of certain white blood cells (granulocytes) as well as red blood cells and platelets; it is characterised by an increased tendency to bleed, increased risk of infections as well as developing anaemia. Aplastic anaemia can be congenital (e.g. Fanconi anemia) or acquired.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: patients with aplastic anaemia have an increased risk of developing acute myeloid leukaemia.

apoptosis
programmed cell death; form of cell death, which is triggered by various mechanisms in the cell itself; this can happen naturally in the context of cellular aging, but also, for example, in response to cell damage (e.g. caused by cytostatics, radiotherapy).
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: the natural onset of programmed cell death and/or the necessary mechanisms are disturbed in many tumour/cancer cells.

ascites
abnormal accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity; larger amounts of fluid are noticeable by a painless swelling of the abdomen. Ascites is caused by fluid passing from the blood vessels into the abdominal cavity. This can be caused by various diseases, such as tumours in the abdomen or peritonitis.

astrocytoma
tumour of the central nervous system derived from astrocytes (a subtype of glial cells); belongs to the so-called gliomas

audiogram syn. tone audiogram, hearing curve
hearing test; graphical representation of the subjective hearing ability of sounds; the audiogram records a persons hearing sensitivity in different frequency ranges. The examination is carried out with the help of the patient. By audiogram, the severity, type and cause of a hearing disorder can be determined. A separate audiogram is created for each ear, usually by the ear-nose-throat-(ENT) specialist. An audiogram that deviates from the norm suggests a disease of the ear. The audiogram is one of many methods used to examine hearing (audiometry).

audiometry
method of studying auditory function using special tone generators that produce individual frequencies at a specific volume; it is used, among other things, to diagnose diseases of the hearing organs. A distinction is made between subjective and objective audiometric methods. An example of a subjective audiometric method is the tone audiogram. It requires the assistance of the person whose hearing is to be examined.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: hearing may be impaired as a result of cancer treatment; in particular, a high radiation dose during cranial irradiation and certain cytostatic drugs (e.g. platinum substances such as cisplatin, carboplatin) can lead to hearing damage in the long term.

autologous
The Greek syllable "auto-" means "self"; consistently, from the same individual.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: autologous stem cell transplantation
References: autologous stem cell transplantation

autologous stem cell transplantation
(re)transfer of blood stem cells, e.g. after a chemotherapy or radiotherapy; the patient receives his own cells that were previously taken from their own bone marrow or blood. Autologous stem cell transplantation may be an option, for example, for certain patients with lymphoma, neuroblastoma, soft tissue sarcoma, or a brain tumour.

autonomic nervous system (Abrev.: ANS) syn. formerly referred to as vegetative nervous system
part of the nervous system, consisting of two parts, the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathicus; it is used for the unconscious and involuntary (i.e. largely independent of the will) control of the internal organs and thus numerous vital processes, e.g. breathing, digestion, blood pressure regulation, and fluid balance. Nerve fibers of the autonomic nervous system are found in almost all organs of the body.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: partial functions of the autonomic nervous system may be impaired by certain tumours (e.g. some CNS tumours). Neuroblastomas often develop in the area of the autonomic nervous system (sympathetic trunk).