Last modification: 2024/01/15

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

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malignant tumour that arises from degenerated nerve, connective or supporting tissue (e.g. bones, cartilage, tendons, muscle, fat); the name is given according to its origin: rhabdomyosarcoma is a malignant tumour of the striated muscles, osteosarcoma a malignant tumour of the bone-forming tissue.

a nuclear medicine examination procedure in which internal organs or tissues and their function (activity) can be visualized, for example on an X-ray film, by administering a radioactively labeled substance; in cancer medicine, scintigraphy can be used to visualize tumours or metastases. There are different types of scintigraphy, depending on which organ is to be examined and the chemical substance used for it.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: if a bone cancer is suspected, skeletal scintigraphy can be used. The radioactive substance injected into the bloodstream accumulates, especially in the affected bone.
References: X-rays - radioactive - skeletal scintigraphy
Main Information Document: Nuclear Medical Imaging

uncontrolled electrical activity between nerve cells in the brain; a distinction is made between focal and generalized seizures. Focal seizures are limited to a specific area of the brain; depending on the area of the brain, the symptoms vary: e.g. twitching of one side of the body, an arm or a leg. Generalized seizures spread over large areas of the brain and lead, for example, to twitching of the limbs, sudden absence and loss of consciousness.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: Seizures can be caused, for example, by a tumour of the central nervous system, especially in the area of the cerebrum.

severe combined immunodeficiency (Abrev.: SCID)
collective term for congenital immunodeficiencies caused by lack of or non-functional T lymphocytes; the consequence is an insufficiently developed immune response, which presents in the affected children early in infancy or toddlerhood with recurrent and sometimes severe infections (caused by viruses, fungi and other microorganisms). Patients with SCID develop otitis media, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, digestive disorders. Sepsis as well as growth and developmental delay may also occur.
References: immunodeficiency - T lymphocytes - immune response - virus - infection - microorganisms

Shwachman-Diamond syndrome (Abrev.: SDS)
very rare hereditary disorder characterised by impaired bone marrow and pancreatic function and growth disorders; there is an increased risk of developing leukaemia or myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Patients with Shwachman-Diamond syndrome (SDS) have defects in a gene whose exact function is still being researched. However, it is known that these mutations are inherited in an autosomal recessive manner and can affect several organ systems and body functions at the same time.

sickle cell disease syn. sickle cell anaemia
hereditary disease of the red blood cells characterised by a change in the red blood pigment haemoglobin; the abnormal haemoglobin (sickle cell haemoglobin, HbS) leads to a sickle-shaped deformation of the red blood cells (erythrocytes) when there is a lack of oxygen. These clog the small blood vessels. The patients suffer from anaemia and sometimes life-threatening cardiovascular disorders, which can be accompanied by severe pain and organ damage. There are different forms and severities of sickle cell disease, which requires lifelong treatment.
References: haemoglobin - anaemia - erythrocytes

International Society for Childhood and Adolescent Cancers; SIOP is the abbreviation for "Société Internationale dOncologie Pédiatrique" or "International Society of Paediatric Oncology".

skeletal scintigraphy
an imaging, nuclear medicine procedure that is mainly used in cancer medicine to detect or exclude bone metastases; radioactive technetium (99Tc), which is bound to a phosphate compound, is used for the investigation. Since phosphate is a natural component of the basic substance of bones, the radioactive compound is taken up by the bone cells, especially in those with increased metabolism. A special camera locates the suspicious areas.

soft tissue
soft tissues include connective, fat, and muscle tissue, as well as blood vessels and peripheral nerve tissue (nervous system without the brain and spinal cord). The soft tissues thus include all non-epithelial tissues of the body with the exception of the supporting tissue (bone and cartilage). They connect, support and surround the other parts of the body and organs.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: malignant tumours of the soft tissues, so-called soft tissue tumours, are amongst the most common solid tumours in children and adolescents.

soft tissue sarcoma
a variety of very different malignancies that originate from soft tissues, e.g. connective, fat, muscle or peripheral nerve tissue; they account for about 6% of malignant diseases in childhood and adolescence; the most common soft tissue sarcoma in children and adolescents is rhabdomyosarcoma.
Main Information Document: Soft tissue sarcomas and other soft tissue tumours

solid tumour
solid, localized increase of the bodys own tissue; solid tumours can originate from various tissues and can be benign or malignant; only the malignant ones are considered as cancers. Solid tumours include all cancers that do not affect the haematopoietic or lymphatic system. The latter are systemic malignancies. The most common solid tumours in childhood and adolescence are brain tumours, followed by neuroblastoma and soft tissue sarcomas.

spinal cord syn. medulla spinalis
part of the central nervous system; its main function is to transmit messages between the brain and other organs of the body. The spinal cord is protectively enveloped by the three spinal cord membranes and the bony spinal canal.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: tumours of the central nervous system can also affect the spinal cord.

stem cell transplantation (Abrev.: SCT, HSCT) syn. haematopoietic stem cell transplantation
transfer of haematopoietic stem cells after conditioning chemotherapy, radiation or immunosuppression of the recipient; the stem cells can be obtained either from the bone marrow or from the bloodstream. In the first case, the procedure of their transfer is called bone marrow transplantation, in the second case peripheral stem cell transplantation. Depending on the type of donor, a distinction is made between two forms of SCT: allogeneic SCT (stem cells from a foreign donor) and autologous SCT (own stem cells).

stem cells
here: immature (undifferentiated) and continuously dividing somatic cells, which can either produce further stem cells or mature into different cell / tissue types (differentiation); stem cells are the roots of embryonic organ development and all adult regenerative tissues (e.g. skin, mucous membranes, blood-forming cells of the bone marrow).
References: blood stem cells - embryonal - bone marrow

touching or reaching a specific region of the body with pinpoint accuracy using imaging techniques (e.g. computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging) and computer calculation, e.g. to targetedly remove tissue or as part of a treatment;
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: stereotactic diagnostic and treatment procedures play an important role in paediatric cancer medicine both in the diagnosis and treatment of tumours of the central nervous system (brain tumours) that cannot be reached with other surgical techniques due to their minimal size or their location in the brain; e.g. stereotactic collection of tumour tissue samples (stereotactic biopsy); stereotactically guided radiotherapy (= millimetre-precise application of radiation, through which a precise destruction of the tumour tissue can be achieved without damaging adjacent, healthy tissue.

supportive therapy
supportive treatment measures to prevent, alleviate or treat disease and/or treatment-related side effects or complications; supportive therapy is designed to improve the patients quality of life.

located above the cerebellar tentorium, i.e. in the middle or anterior cranial fossa

surgical intervention on or in the body of a patient for the purpose of treatment, less often also in the context of diagnostics; the surgical intervention is carried out with the help of special instruments, generally with the patient under anesthesia.

sympathetic nervous system
part of the autonomic nervous system and antagonist of the parasympathetic nervous system (parasympaticus); the sympathetic nervous system manages demanding and stressful situations. Its excitation leads, for example, to an increase in blood pressure, an acceleration of heartbeat and breathing, dilation of the pupils and increased sweating, while at the same time dampening the activities of the stomach and intestines and their glands.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: a degeneration of cells of the sympathetic nervous system can lead to the development of neuroblastoma.

sympathetic trunk
a chain of numerous nerve nodes (ganglia) of the sympathetic nervous system on both sides of the spine; the sympathetic nervous system is part of the autonomic nervous system.
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: neuroblastomas can arise from abnormal cells of the sympathetic trunk.

sign of illness

clinical presentation resulting from the coincidence of various characteristic signs (symptoms)
Example / Relevance Pediatrics: various hereditary syndromes are associated with an increased risk of cancer, which is why they are also called cancer syndromes or, more correctly, cancer predisposition syndromes.

covering/includiing the entire body