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 L M N O P R S T U V W X    all  

calcium (Abrev.: Ca)
a vital mineral for humans, which is mainly deposited in bone tissue; calcium plays an important role in blood clotting, bone metabolism, nerve excitability and muscle cell function. The total concentration of calcium is usually measured in the blood. Deviations of the calcium level from the age-dependent referene values can indicate disorders/diseases in the organism.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: an increased calcium level (hypercalcaemia) can be indicative of a tumour lysis syndrome or a disorder of bone metabolism.
References: tumour lysis syndrome

cancer predisposition syndrome
genetic disorders that can include malformations and intellectual disability in addition to an increased risk of tumors; according to current knowledge, about 10% of childhood and adolescent cancers develop due to a known hereditary change or cancer predisposition syndrome. Cancer predisposition syndromes include Louis Bar syndrome (= ataxia telangiectatica), Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, Down syndrome, Hippel-Lindau syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, MEN syndrome, neurofibromatosis and WAGR syndrome. The familial form of retinoblastoma is also part of it.

carcinoma
malignant tumour resulting from degenerated epithelial tissue (e.g. skin, mucous membranes, glandular tissue);
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: carcinomas are rare in children and adolescents; they account for about 1% of all childhood and adolescent cancers.

catecholamines
collective term for the bodys own substances dopamine, adrenaline and norepinephrine, which are messenger substances (hormones) of the sympathetic nervous system and have a stimulating effect on the cardiovascular system (they lead to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure); catecholamines are formed in the adrenal glands and nervous system. There are also artificially produced catecholamines that are used as medicines.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: in patients with neuroblastoma, catecholamines are often produced uncontrollably by the tumour cells. As a result, the catecholamine degradation products vanillic and homovanillic acid are found to be elevated in the urine. For this reason, catecholamines or their degradation products can be used as so-called tumour markers for diagnostic purposes.

catheter
tubular, rigid or flexible instrument for insertion into hollow organs, vessels or specific body cavities (e.g. bladder), e.g. for examination, drainage, sample collection, monitoring of vital parameters and/or administration of medication

cell
the smallest functional unit in organisms with the ability to perform metabolism, involuntary muscle movement and reproduction and to respond to stimuli; each cell contains a nucleus and a cell body (cytoplasm) and is externally bounded by the cell membrane.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: the development of cancer is based on the malignant change (degeneration) of a single cell and its proliferation.

central nervous system (Abrev.: CNS)
comprises the brain and spinal cord and is separated from the so-called peripheral nervous system; as a central organ of integration, coordination and regulation, it serves to process external sensory impressions as well as stimuli produced by the organism itself.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: tumours of the CNS (often referred to as brain tumours) are the most common solid tumours in childhood and adolescence.

cerebellar tentorium syn. Tentorium cerebelli
connective tissue structure that separates the posterior parts of the cerebrum from the cerebellum like a kind of parting sail, leaving only one passage route for the brainstem; it is formed by the hard meninges and covers the posterior cranial fossa like a roof.

cerebellopontine angle
niche in the posterior region of the brain and part of the cerebellum; this is where the roots (nuclei) of ten of the twelve cranial nerves are located in a very small space.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: pathological changes in the cerebellopontine angle can lead to functional failures of the cranial nerves and cerebellum, sometimes with signs of increased pressure inside the skull (intracranial pressure).

cerebellum
part of the brain that is located in the posterior fossa of the skull, between the cerebrum and the brainstem; it is mostly responsible for the coordination of all body movements and also for maintaining balance.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: The majority of CNS tumours in childhood and adolescence grow in the cerebellum, such as astrocytomas and medulloblastomas. Tumours in this area can present with balance and movement disorders.

cerebral ventricles syn. Ventriculus cerebri
cerebral ventricles filled with cerebrospinal fluid; the four cerebral ventricles represent the continuation of the spinal canal merging into these four chambers in the brain.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: an obstruction of the drainage of the cerebrospinal fluid from the ventricles, e.g. as a result of a brain tumour, leads to hydrocephalus, which may require ventricular drainage. As part of the treatment of a brain tumour, cytostatic drugs are sometimes administered directly into the cerebral ventricles via ventricular catheters.

cerebrospinal fluid (Abrev.: CSF) syn. Liquor cerebrospinalis
fluid produced by cells of the cerebral ventricles; it floats around the brain and spinal cord to protect them from injury and provide them with nutrients.

cerebrum
largest and most highly developed section of the brain; it consists of two hemispheres connected by a thick bundle of nerves (corpus callosum). Each hemisphere of the brain is specialized on specific tasks. The outermost layer of the cerebrum, the cerebral cortex, houses the ability to learn, speak and think, as well as consciousness and memory, amongst other things. This is also where the processing centres for information from the sensory organs (e.g. eyes, ears) are located.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: Many CNS tumours in childhood and adolescence grow in the cerebrum, for example ependymomas and low-grade gliomas in the area of the visual pathway.

chemotherapy
here: use of drugs (chemotherapeutic agents, cytostatics) for the specific inhibition of tumor cells in the organism

chromosomal
referring to the chromosomes, carriers of the genetic material (see chromosomes)
References: chromosome

chromosome
chromosomes are the carriers of the genetic material, i.e. the genetic information of a cell; chromosomes consist mainly of DNA and proteins and are components of the cell nucleus. The shape and number of chromosomes are species-specific. Humans have 46 chromosomes (23 pairs of chromosomes) per cell in the body.

CNS tumour
tumour of the central nervous system; a primary CNS tumour is a solid tumour that originates from brain or spinal cord tissue. Secondary CNS tumours are metastases of tumours located in other organs or tissues.

computed tomography
imaging, X-ray diagnostic procedure; it produces an image by computer-controlled evaluation of a large number of X-rays from different directions. This makes it possible to produce sliced images of body parts (tomograms, transverse or longitudinal sections of the human body)

conditioning
preparatory treatment of a patient before receiving a blood stem cell transplant; it serves to suppress the patients own immune system by more or less completely destroying the bone marrow cells and thus the patients own blood formation, so the donor’s cells cannot be rejected by the patient’s immune system. At the same time, space is created in the bone marrow for the new donated blood stem cells. The choice of the conditioning scheme usually depends on the type and stage of the disease as well as the type of donor available. After conditioning, the actual transplant takes place.

contrast agent
substance that can be used to improve the visualization of structures and functions of the body in imaging techniques; contrast agents are mainly used in X-ray diagnostics (X-ray examination, computed tomography), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound examinations.

creatinine
breakdown product of creatine, a substance that is primarily responsible for muscle contraction; creatinine is one of the urinary substances, which means that it can only be excreted through the urine. When kidney function is significantly impaired, the level of creatinine in the blood increases.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: in medicine, the creatinine value is an important laboratory value for determining kidney function. However, since the creatinine level in the blood only increases noticeably with advanced renal dysfunction, the filtration rate of the renal corpuscles (glomeruli), the so-called creatinine clearance, is often determined for more precise monitoring.

cryotherapy syn. cold treatment
here: treatment of a tumour using low temperatures; the tumor is frozen repetitively, and the cold-sensitive tumour cells will subsequently be destroyed.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: local treatment method, e.g. for retinoblastoma

cytogenetic
the number and structure of the chromosomes contained in the nucleus
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: cytogenetic examinations are important diagnostic and scientific procedures in paediatric cancer medicine.

cytogenetics
a field of research that deals with the number and structure of chromosomes located in the nucleus; it involves the microscopic examination of cells, e.g. from blood, swabs or tissue samples.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: cytogenetics play an important role in the initial and follow-up diagnosis of cancer treatment. It includes investigations to detect changes in the human genetic material (genome) and, together with other analyses, serves to accurately diagnose a disease and its subtypes. It is therefore important for therapy planning and evaluation of the prognosis.

cytological
concerning the structure and functions of the cells; a cytological (microscopic) examination of cells and their nature (cytology/cytomorphology) makes it possible to distinguish malignant from normal cells.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: cytological examinations are common diagnostics when cancer is suspected; with their help, it is also possible to distinguish between malignant and benign tumours or other diseases (e.g. infections) (partly supported by immunological and genetic methods).

cytomorphological
referring to the shape and structure of the cells (under the microscope); the cytomorphological assessment of bone marrow and blood smears is part of the basic diagnosis if a blood disease, such as leukemia, is suspected.

cytopenia
a decrease in the number of cells in the blood; cytopenia can describe either a reduction in one, two or three hematopoietic cell lines (monocytopenia, bicytopenia, pancytopenia) or a reduction in a specific type of cell, such as red blood cells (erythrocytopenia), platelets (thrombocytopenia) or white blood cells (leukocytopenia or leukopenia).

cytoreductive
cyt-: part of the word meaning „cell“; reductive means „reducing“; decreasing the number of cells
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: cytoreductive measures in the context of cancer treatment involve all therapy methods that are aimed at reducing the tumour burden (tumour size, tumour cell count) (e.g. surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy).

cytostatics
drugs that inhibit cell growth; cytostatics can affect the metabolism of different types of cells, thereby destroying them and/or preventing them from multiplying. Cells that divide frequently are particularly affected.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: due to their high division rates and impaired growth control, cancer cells can be successfully treated with various cytostatic drugs (chemotherapy). In addition to radiotherapy and surgery, chemotherapeutic treatment with cytostatics is therefore an important form of treatment for cancer.