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The following glossary explains words, terms or acronyms you might encounter on this website, or in information related to cancer. It is by no means exhaustive. Another handy reference is the Australian Cancer Trials website glossary.


AACR Australasian Association of Cancer Registries
abdomen The part of the body that includes the stomach, intestine, liver, bladder and kidneys. The abdomen is located between the ribs and hips.
ABN Australasian Biospecimen Network
Aboriginal A person of Aboriginal descent who identifies as an Aboriginal and is accepted as such by the community in which he or she lives.
ABS Australian Bureau of Statistics
accreditation Public recognition of achievement by a health care organisation, of requirements of national health care standards (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality).
acute pain Pain that is severe but lasts a short time.
adenocarcinoma A cancer that starts in the cells of glands.
adenopathy Large or swollen lymph glands.
adjuvant therapy or adjuvant treatment Treatment given after the primary treatment to increase the chances of a cure. In cancer, adjuvant treatment often refers to chemotherapy, hormonal therapy or radiotherapy after surgery, which is aimed at killing any remaining cancer cells.
advanced cancer Cancer that has spread past the site of origin to other organs.
advanced care directive The legal documents in which you give written instructions about your health care if, in the future, due to the state of your health, you cannot speak for yourself.
age standardisation Adjusting rates to take into account how many old or young people are in the population being studied. When rates are age standardised, differences in the rates over time or between geographical areas do not simply reflect variations in the age distribution of the populations. This is important when looking at cancer because it is a disease that predominantly affects the elderly. So if cancer rates are not age standardised, a higher rate in one country is likely to reflect the fact that it has a greater proportion of older people.
AHMAC Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council
AIHW Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
allied health workers People trained in occupations that support and supplement the functions of health professionals.
alternative therapy Therapy used instead of standard medical treatment. Most alternative therapies have not been scientifically tested, so there is little proof that they work and their side effects are not always known. Examples include laetrile, shark cartilage, mistletoe extract, ozone therapy, magnets, taking large doses of vitamin supplements, coffee enemas, microwave therapy, resveratrol and melatonin.
anaemia A drop in the number of red blood cells in your body. Anaemia decreases the amount of oxygen in the body and may cause tiredness and fatigue, breathlessness, paleness and a poor resistance to infection.
anaesthetic A drug that stops a person feeling pain during a medical procedure. A local anaesthetic numbs only a part of the body; a general anaesthetic puts a person to sleep for a period of time.
analgesics Medications that are used to relieve pain.
angiogenesis The formation of new blood vessels to support tissue. Angiogenesis enables tumours to develop their own blood supply, which helps them to survive and grow.
anus The entrance to the back passage, through which bowel motions are passed.
ANZGOG Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group
AOCS Australian Ovarian Cancer Study
ascites A fluid build-up in the abdomen, making it swollen and bloated.
ASCUS Atypical Squamous Cells of Uncertain Significance
ASGO Australian Society of Gynaecological Oncologists
barium enema A test to look for cancer in the bowel. A white chalky liquid is put into your rectum and x-rays are taken.
baseline At the beginning of the trial, before treatment is started.
BEACH Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health
benign Not cancerous. Benign cells are not able to spread like cancer cells.
beta human chorionic gonadotrophin (beta-HCG) A hormone normally found in the blood and urine during pregnancy. It may also be produced by some tumour cells. An increased level of beta-human chorionic gonadotropin may be a sign of cancer of the uterus, ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas or lung, or gestational trophoblastic disease. Beta-human chorionic gonadotropin may also be produced in response to certain conditions that are not cancer. Also called ß-hCG.
biopsy The removal of a small amount of tissue from the body, for examination under a microscope, to help diagnose a disease.
bladder A sac with an elastic wall of muscle; found in the lower part of the abdomen. The bladder stores urine until it is passed from the body.
bloating Full, uncomfortable feeling in abdomen. Can be caused by gas, eating in excess or constipation.
blood count A test that counts the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in your blood.
body image How you feel about your body, how you think it looks and how you present it to others.
brachytherapy A type of radiotherapy treatment that implants radioactive material sealed in needles or seeds into or near the tumour.
breakthrough pain A brief and often severe pain that occurs even though a person may be taking pain medication regularly.
CA125 A protein found in the blood. This protein is often higher than normal in women with ovarian cancer. High levels may also occur in women with common gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis or fibroids.
caBIG™ cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid™
CALD culturally and linguistically diverse
cancer A term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control. Cancer cells can invade nearby tissues and can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body. There are several main types of cancer. Carcinoma is cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs. Sarcoma is cancer that begins in bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, or other connective or supportive tissue. Leukaemia is cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow, and causes large numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the bloodstream. Lymphoma and multiple myeloma are cancers that begin in the cells of the immune system.
cancer continuum The full spectrum of cancer control services from prevention and early detection efforts, through diagnosis and treatment, to rehabilitation and support services for people living with cancer and/or palliative care.
cancer control All actions that reduce the burden of cancer in the community. It includes every aspect of care, from prevention and early detection to curative treatment and palliative care, all underpinned by the best scientific evidence available.
cancer control audit Reviewing existing information about cancer control efforts in Australia.
cancer journey An individual’s experience of cancer, from detection and screening, diagnosis and treatment, to relapse, recovery and/or palliative care.
Cancer Learning A website funded by Cancer Australia, designed for health professionals working in cancer care which aims to consolidate evidence-based learning activities, resources and information in cancer care available across Australia and overseas. See: www.cancerlearning.gov.au
cancer of unknown primary origin A case in which cancer cells are found in the body, but the place where the cells first started growing (the origin or primary site) cannot be determined.
cancer survivor On this website, this term is used to mean anyone who has finished their active cancer treatment.
CanNET Cancer Service Networks National Demonstration program
cannula A plastic tube inserted into a narrow opening so that fluids can be introduced or removed.
carcinogen A substance known to cause and/or promote cancer. Carcinogens can be created by humans, such as cigarette smoke, or simply be present naturally in the environment, as is ultraviolet radiation from the sun, both of which are known to play a major role in the development of cancer. X-rays and viruses are also known carcinogens.
carcinoma A cancer that starts in the tissue that lines the skin and internal organs of the body.
carcinoma in situ Cancer that involves only the cells in which it began and has not spread to nearby tissues.
care coordination The delivery of services by different providers occurs in a coherent, logical and timely manner, consistent with the person’s medical needs and personal context
care pathway A care pathway describes the management and its sequence of a well-defined group of patients during a well-defined period of time.
carer A person who helps someone through an illness or disability such as cancer.
catheter A hollow, flexible tube through which fluids can be passed into the body or drained from it.
cells The building blocks of the body. A human is made of millions of cells, which are adapted for different functions. Cells can reproduce themselves exactly, unless they are abnormal or damaged, as are cancer cells.
central line A plastic tube inserted into a vein in your chest.
CEO Chief Executive Officer
chemotherapy The use of drugs, which kill or slow cell growth, to treat cancer. These are called cytotoxic drugs.
CHeReL Centre for Health Record Linkage
chromosome A thread like structure found in the nucleus of all body cells (except red blood cells) made up of strings of proteins called genes.
chronic pain Pain that can range from mild to severe and lasts a long time.
CI-SCaT see eviQ
clear margin When a malignant tumour is surgically removed some surrounding tissue will be removed with it. If this surrounding tissue does not contain any cancer cells it is said to be a clear margin.
clinical guidelines Clinical guidelines are a graded set of recommendations to assist clinical decision-making or service planning based on best available research. Ideally all clinical guidelines are developed according to international quality criteria, such as the AGREE Collaboration Guidelines (2001). Some clinical guidelines may contain a systematic review of the research on which the recommendations are based.
clinical leader Clinicians driving service improvement and the effective management of teams to provide excellence in care delivery.
clinical pathway A clinical pathway explicitly states that the goals and key elements of care are based on clinical guidelines, and best available evidence. It acknowledges patients expectations by facilitating communication, coordinating roles and sequencing the activities of the multidisciplinary care team, patients and their families; by documenting, monitoring and evaluating variances; and by providing the necessary resources and outcomes. The aim of a clinical pathway is to improve the quality of care, reduce risks, and increase patient satisfaction and increase efficiency in the use of resources.
clinical trial Research conducted with the patient’s permission, which usually involves a comparison of two or more treatments or diagnostic methods. The aim is to gain better understanding of the underlying disease process and/or methods to treat it. A clinical trial is conducted with rigorous scientific method for determining the effectiveness of a proposed treatment.
CNSA Cancer Nurses Society of Australia
colectomy An operation to remove the colon or part of the colon.
colorectal cancer Cancer of the colon (the lower part of the intestine, usually 1.5 to 2 metres) or of the rectum.
colostomy An operation where the colon is attached to an opening on the stomach.
complementary therapy Therapy used together with standard medical treatment. Examples include counselling, relaxation therapy, massage, acupuncture, yoga and meditation, aromatherapy, and art and music therapy.
consumer A term that can refer to: patients and potential patients; carers; organisations representing cancer consumer interests; members of the public who are targets of cancer promotion programs; and groups affected in a specific way as a result of cancer policy, treatments or services. See also People affected by cancer.
consumer participation The involvement of consumers in decision-making processes. There are many ways consumers can participate in health decision-making, from working with health care providers to improve their own health to contributing to the development and management of health services as a consumer representative. (Also see consumer)
continuing professional development (CPD) Continuous learning through which an individual maintains and extends their knowledge and skills for life-long professional competence. CPD is: a part of professional recognition in any field; ongoing and continuous; structured and transparent; essential to maintaining up-to-date technical skills and knowledge of processes, technology and legislation
cooperative trials groups Networks of institutions and researchers who jointly conduct research, including clinical trials, using identical protocols and pooling their data.
COSA Clinical Oncological Society of Australia
credentialing A formal process for defining the clinical responsibilities of medical practitioners and other health care providers within a particular health care institution or wider service. It serves to verify that clinicians are qualified and competent to undertake specific practices within explicit settings.
CSIRO The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
CT (computerised tomography) scan The technique for constructing pictures from cross-sections of the body, by x-raying the part of the body to be examined from many different angles.
Delphi process A systematic, iterative and interactive method of gaining consensus using a panel of experts.
DES Diethylstilbestrol
diagnosis The identification and naming of a person's disease.
diarrhoea Opening the bowels very frequently. Motions may be watery.
diethystilboestrol (DES) A hormone drug prescribed to pregnant women between 1940 and 1970 to try to prevent miscarriages.
dietitian A health professional who specialises in human nutrition.
directory of service The Directory of Service to be developed for CanNET will provide information on locating the nearest initial cancer multidisciplinary assessment team for a particular cancer type and/or population group within a defined geographical area. It is designed primarily for use by consumers and health care providers living and operating within the geographical area of the network.
DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid
DoHA Department of Health and Ageing
dose The amount of medication taken.
dose titration Adjustment of medication dose either up or down.
DSS Data Set Specifications (DSS) are metadata sets that are not mandated for collection but are recommended as best practice. (Definition courtesy of AIHW)
dysplasia A change in size, shape and arrangement of normal cells. Dysplastic cells are abnormal but are not cancerous. They may develop into cancer. Dysplasia is either low grade or high grade.
EdCaN National Cancer Nursing Education project - the framework and resources of this project can be accessed through the Cancer Learning website: www.cancerlearning.gov.au
eligibility criteria Characteristics of the people for whom a clinical trial is suitable.
enduring power of attorney A person who acts on behalf of the person they are caring for on all financial matters.
EPICC Education Program in Cancer Care
epidemiology The study of the patterns and causes of health and disease in populations, and the application of this study to improve health.
epidural An injection into the spinal column, outside the lining of the spinal cord.
epithelium The cells that make up the internal and external surfaces of the body, for example, skin, inside of lungs, ovaries.
eviQ Cancer Institute of New South Wales’ Standard Cancer Treatment Protocols website (formerly known as CI-SCaT)
experimental treatment A new treatment being tested in a trial.
external beam radiotherapy Uses x-rays directed from an external machine.
external radiotherapy Radiotherapy administered by a machine, which targets radiation at the cancer.
faeces Bowel motions or stools.
familial Indicates that a condition that can be inherited from through the generations of a family through one or more genes.
febrile neutropenia The development of a fever, often with signs of infection, in a person with neutropenia (an abnormally low level of neutrophils - a type of white blood cell - in the blood). A common side-effect of chemotherapy which requires immediate medical attention. 
fertility Ability to have children.
FIGO International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (United States)
FOI Act Freedom of Information Act 1982
formative evaluation Formative evaluation strengthens or improves the object (program) by examining the delivery of the program or technology, the quality of its implementation and the assessment of the organisational context, personnel procedures and inputs. Evaluation for learning and continuous quality improvement.
FRANZCOG Fellowship of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
GAIN Gynaecological Awareness Information Network
gene The elements of a cell that carry instructions on how the cell should grow and function. Each person has a set of many thousands of genes inherited from both parents. This set is found in every cell of the body.
general anaesthetic A general anaesthetic makes you lose consciousness and fall asleep. You can't feel anything at all.
general practitioner General practitioners diagnose, refer and treat the health problems of individuals and families in the community. Also commonly referred to as family doctors.
generalisability The degree to which the project methods and findings can be applied elsewhere in the cancer control sector.
genital wart A raised growth on the surface of the genitals caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The HPV in genital warts is very contagious and can be spread by skin-to-skin contact, usually during oral, anal, or genital sex with an infected partner. Also called condyloma.
germ cells Cells that produce eggs in females and sperm in males. Germ cell cancers can occur in the ovaries or testicles.
goal An overarching statement about the desired outcome, not usually directly measurable. (Also see objective and strategy)
governance The set of responsibilities and practices, policies and procedures, exercised by the project or program steering committee, to provide strategic direction, ensure objectives are achieved, manage risks and use resources responsibly and with accountability.
GP See general practitioner.
grade A score that describes how quickly the tumour is likely to grow.
grey literature Grey literature, also known as the grey or hidden web, is information that is not searchable or accessible through conventional search engines or subject directories and is not generally produced by commercial publishing organisations. It can include publications issued by government, industry, business and academia occurring in databases and intranets. The development of electronic scholarly publishing such as e-print archives has led to increased access to this type of information.
GRIM General Record of Incidence of Mortality
gynaecological cancers Cancers of the female reproductive tract, including cancers of the uterus, ovary, cervix, vagina, vulva, placenta and fallopian tubes.
gynaecological oncologist A doctor who specialises in treating diseases of the female reproductive system.
gynaecologist A doctor who specialises in treating diseases of the female reproductive system.
health outcome A health-related change due to a preventive or clinical intervention or service. The intervention may be single or multiple, and the outcome may relate to a person, group or population, or be partly or wholly due to the intervention.
hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) A condition in some families where the tendency to develop bowel cancer (and to a lesser extent other cancers, including endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer) is inherited. Up to 5% of all bowel cancer is due to HNPCC. About 80% of people who have the gene for HNPCC will develop a bowel cancer sometime in their life. Also called Lynch syndrome.
HIV Human immunodeficiency virus
HL7 Health Level Seven
HNPCC family A group of relatives in which it is known, or strongly suspected, that an HNPCC gene mutation is present, based on their extensive family history of bowel cancer, and to a lesser extent other cancers, including endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer.
hormone A substance that affects how your body works. Some hormones control growth, others control reproduction. They are distributed around the body through the bloodstream.
hormone replacement therapy (HRT) Drug therapy that supplies the body with hormones that it is no longer able to produce; it is used to relieve menopausal symptoms.
hormone therapy/
A treatment that blocks the body's natural hormones, which help cancer grow.
HPV see human papillomavirus
Human papillomavirus Also called HPV or wart virus. A group of over 100 viruses that can cause infection in the skin surface of different areas of the body including the genital area. Some virus strains are linked to cervical and a number of other cancers. See also: pap smear
hysterectomy The surgical removal of the uterus.
ileostomy Similar to a colostomy, but the operation brings part of the small bowel to an opening in the abdomen.
ileum The lower half of the small bowel, which joins up with the colon.
incidence The number of new cases of a disease diagnosed each year.
incontinence Inability to hold or control the loss of urine or faeces.
Indigenous A person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as such and is accepted as such by the community with which he or she is associated.
industry-independent clinical trials Clinical trials not funded by industry e.g. pharmaceutical companies. Industry-independent clinical trials may be funded by government, non-government agencies, the not-for-profit sector and philanthropic organisations.
informed consent form The form a person signs to show that they understand the information they have been given about a trial and they agree to take part.
internal radiotherapy A form of radiotherapy, where sources of radiation are implanted in hollow tubes at or near the cancer.
intravenous Into a vein. An intravenous drip gives drugs directly into a vein.
IPTAAS Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme
IT information technology
JCPAA Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit
laparotomy Operation in which a long cut is made in the abdomen to examine the internal organs; also sometimes called an exploratory operation.
laxative Something to stop constipation.
libido Sex drive.
local anaesthetic A medication that blocks the feeling of pain in a specific location in the body.
LSIL Low-grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions
lymph A clear fluid that circulates around the body through the lymphatic system, carrying cells that fight infection.
lymph nodes Also called lymph glands. Small, bean-shaped collections of lymph cells scattered across the lymphatic system. They get rid of bacteria and other harmful things. There are lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, groin and abdomen.
lymph vessels A network of thin tubes that spread into tissues all over the body.
lymphadenectomy Removal of the lymph glands from a part of the body.
lymphatic system A network of vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph from the body's tissues to the bloodstream. The lymphatic system is part of the body's immune system and helps the body fight infection.
lymphoedema Swelling caused by a build-up of lymph fluid. This happens when lymph nodes do not drain properly, usually after lymph glands are removed.
lymphoma A cancer of the lymph nodes. Lymphomas are divided into two broad types, Hodgkin’s disease lymphomas and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas.
Lynch syndrome An alternative term for hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC).
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) Similar to a CT scan, but this test uses magnetism instead of x-rays to build up cross-sectional pictures of the body.
malignant Cancerous. Malignant cells can spread and can eventually cause death if they cannot be treated.
managed clinical networks Clinical networks are linked groups of health professionals and organisations from primary, secondary, and tertiary care working in a coordinated manner, unconstrained by existing professional and [organisational] boundaries to ensure equitable provision of high quality effective services.
MBS Medical Benefits Schedule
MCIS Multicultural Cancer Information Service
MDS Minimum Data Set. A National Minimum Data Set (NMDS) is a minimum set of data elements agreed for mandatory collection and reporting at a national level. It may include data elements that are also included in other National minimum data sets. An NMDS is contingent upon a national agreement to collect uniform data and to supply it as part of the national collection, but does not preclude agencies and service providers from collecting additional data to meet their own specific needs.  (definition courtesy of AIHW)
medical oncologist A doctor who specialises in diagnosing and treating cancer using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and biological therapy. A medical oncologist often is the main health care provider for someone who has cancer. A medical oncologist also gives supportive care and may coordinate treatment given by other specialists.
melanoma A cancer of the body’s cells that contain pigment (melanin), mainly affecting the skin.
mentoring A developmental partnership through which one person shares knowledge, skills, information and perspective to foster the personal and professional growth of another person.
metastasis Also known as a secondary cancer. A cancer that has spread from another part of the body.
models of care A model that explains the manner in which health care is provided and usually describes what care is provided, where it is provided and who provides it. It identifies a standard or example, for imitation or comparison, combining concepts, belief and intent.
MOGA Medical Oncology Group of Austraia
mortality The death rate, or the number of deaths in a certain group of people in a certain period of time. Mortality may be reported for people who have a certain disease, live in one area of the country, or who are of a certain sex, age, or ethnic group.
MRI See magnetic resonance imaging.
multidisciplinary care An integrated team approach to cancer care. This happens when medical, nursing and allied health professionals involved in a patient’s treatment together consider all treatment options and personal preferences of the patient and collaboratively develop an individual care plan that best meets the needs of that patient.
multidisciplinary clinic A multidisciplinary clinic is held in a setting such as an outpatient clinic, where several clinicians/health practitioners are available for a patient to see at one visit. Multidisciplinary clinics and meetings may be linked, where a clinic may precede or follow a multidisciplinary meeting.
multidisciplinary team A health care team consisting of a group of experts, including doctors, nurses and other health professionals who specialise in the treatment of specific types of cancer. Most doctors who treat the common types of cancer work with experts in a multidisciplinary team.
A multidisciplinary team can include a general practitioner, a surgeon, a medical oncologist, a radiation oncologist, a palliative care specialist, a nurse consultant, nurses, a dietician, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, a social worker, a psychologist, a counsellor and a pastoral care worker.
multidisciplinary team meeting Multidisciplinary meetings are a regularly scheduled meeting of core and invited team members for the purpose of prospective treatment and care planning of newly diagnosed cancer patients as well as those requiring review of treatment plans or palliative care. (Also see Tumour Board)
Multi-site Collaborative National Cancer Clinical Trials Groups Networks of institutions and researchers who conduct studies jointly, using identical protocols and pooling their data.
NACCHO National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation
nausea Feeling sick or wanting to be sick.
NBOCC National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre.  On 1 July 2011, NBOCC amalgamated with Cancer Australia to form a single national cancer agency, Cancer Australia, to provide leadership in cancer control and improve outcomes for Australians affected by cancer.
NCCI National Cancer Control Initiative
NCGC National Centre for Gynaecological Cancers
NCRIS National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy
NCSP National Cervical Screening Program
needs-based approach to cancer care Within the population there are essentially three distinct patient groups whose differing levels of cancer care needs will determine the degree to which they will be able to access treatment and care in rural Australia:
People who can be diagnosed, assessed and treated locally.
People who need to be assessed elsewhere but can be treated locally.
People who need to be diagnosed elsewhere and whose complex care needs and/or multi-modal treatment requirements necessitate ongoing treatment provided by a major cancer service.
neoadjuvant therapy or neoadjuvant treatment Treatment given before the main treatment to increase the chances of a cure.
neoplasia Any new or abnormal growth of tissues, in which the growth is uncontrolled and progressive.
nerve block Pain medication that is injected directly into or around a nerve or into the spine to block pain.
network members All health professionals, services and consumers in the cancer network’s geographical region
network partners The organisations or services that have partnered with the lead agency responsible for CanNET in each jurisdiction
NGO Non-government Organisation
NHISSC National Health Information Standards and Statistics Committee
NHMRC National Health and Medical Research Council
NICS National Institute of Clinical Studies
nodes see lymph nodes
nodule Swelling or lump that may be cancerous or noncancerous.
non-melanoma skin cancer Tests to find out, and also a means of describing, how far a cancer has spread. Conventionally refers to the allocation of categories (0, I, II, III, IV) to groupings of tumours defined by internationally agreed criteria. Frequently these are based on the
nutrition The process of eating and digesting the necessary food the body needs.
Food that is a good source of energy (calories) and/or protein as well as vitamins and minerals.
objective A series of action statements derived from a stated goal that identifies what is going to be different. Evaluated to ascertain whether a program/project goal has been achieved, partially achieved or not achieved at all.
oedema Abnormally large amounts of fluid in the tissues.
oestrogen The main female sex hormone produced mostly by the ovaries. Oestrogen regulates the menstrual cycle and prepares the breasts for milk production.
omentum A protective apron of fatty tissue over the abdominal organs.
oncologist A doctor who specialises in the study and treatment of cancer.
opioids The strongest pain relievers available. Include morphine, fentanyl, codeine, oxycodone, hydromorphone and methadone.
osteoporosis A decrease in bone mass, causing bones to become fragile. This makes them brittle and liable to break.
PALGA Pathologisch Anatomisch Landelijk Geautomatiseerd Archief (Dutch National Pathology Information System)
palliative care An approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing problems associated with a life-threatening illness. Prevention and relief of suffering is provided through early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems such as physical, psychosocial and spiritual.
palliative care / palliative treatment Treatment to relieve symptoms without trying to cure the disease.
pap smear Also called Pap test. A test that can detect changes in cervical cells. Some cells are scraped off the cervix and sent to a laboratory for examination under a microscope.
paracentesis The drainage of excess fluid from the abdomen.
Parliamentary processes Processes that involve the exchange of information between Cancer Australia, the Department of Health and Ageing and the Minister for Health and Ageing. This information may be in many forms, including minutes to the Minister, question time briefs, departmental briefs and senate estimates documents.
pathologist A person who studies diseases to understand their nature and cause. Pathologists examine biopsies under a microscope to diagnose cancer and other diseases.
patient-centred care Patient-centred care considers patients’ cultural traditions, their personal preferences and values, their family situations, and their lifestyles. It makes patients and their families an integral part of the care team who collaborate with health care professionals in making clinical decisions. Patient-centred care provides an opportunity for patients to decide important aspects of self-care and monitoring. Patient-centred care ensures that transitions between providers, departments, and health care settings are respectful, coordinated, and efficient. When care is patient centred, unneeded and unwanted services can be reduced.
PBS Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
PdCCRS Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme - a program run by Cancer Australia which brings together government and other funders of cancer research to collaboratively fund cancer research in Australia.
pelvic exenteration The surgical removal of the affected organs.
pelvis/pelvic The lower part of the trunk of the body: roughly, the area that extends from hip to hip and waist to groin.
people affected by cancer People who have had a personal experience of cancer, including patients, people living with cancer, cancer survivors, caregivers and family members.
peritoneum The lining of the abdomen.
PET scan Positron emission tomography. A technique used to build up clear and detailed cross-section pictures of the body. The person is injected with a glucose solution containing a small amount of radioactive material. The PET scanner can 'see' the radioactive substance. Damaged or cancerous cells show up as areas where the glucose solution is being used.
placebo A dummy pill or injection, which looks like the new treatment being tested but contains no active ingredient.
policy A plan or course of action intended to influence and determine decisions, actions and other matters.
polyp An abnormal growth that protrudes from a mucous membrane, often on a stalk.
Positron emission tomography See PET scan
precancerous A term used to describe a condition that may or is likely to become a cancer.
prevalence The number or proportion (of cases, instances, etc) present in a population at a given time.
prevention Action to reduce or eliminate the onset, causes, complications or recurrence of disease or ill health.
primary cancer/ site The original cancer. Cells from the primary cancer may break away and be carried to other parts of the body, where secondary cancers form. / The initial location of a cancer in the body when it is first diagnosed.
primary care Primary Care is a sub-component of the broader primary health care system. Primary care is provided by a health care professional who is a client's first point of entry into the health system (for example: a general practitioner, practice nurse, community nurse, or community based allied health worker). Primary care is practised widely in nursing and allied health, but predominately in general practice.
primary health care First level of health care, outside of hospitals. Primary Health Care (PHC) incorporates personal care with health promotion, the prevention of illness and community development. The philosophy of PHC includes the interconnecting principles of equity, access, empowerment, community self-determination and intersectoral collaboration. It encompasses an understanding of the social, economic, cultural and political determinants of health.
primary health care service Primary health care services involve continuity of care, health promotion and education, integration of prevention with illness and/or disease management, a concern for population as well as individual health, community involvement and the use of appropriate technology
priority-driven research Research undertaken in identified priority areas.  An area might be identified as a priority for a variety of reasons, including a relative lack of research in the area in comparison to the impact that the particular cancer has on society.
process mapping Process mapping is a description of how an organisation works, for example, what happens to a client when they come for treatment, where they wait, who they see first, and so on. A process map will provide an exact picture of the way an organisation delivers its services and where improvements need to be made. Three sorts of processes can be mapped: organisational processes; core business processes; and support processes. Process maps give you a starting point (a baseline), against which you can measure the effects of the changes you make. It also provides a very useful tool for orienting new staff
prognosis The likely outcome of a person's disease.
program logic model A systematic and visual way to present and share understanding about the relationships among the resources available to operate a program, the planned activities and processes, and the changes or results it hopes to achieve Sometimes referred to as a program road map. Developing a program logic model is an important first step in any evaluation because it provides a thorough, detailed description of the program being evaluated.
prostate cancer Cancer of the prostate, the male organ that sits next to the urinary bladder and contributes to semen (sperm fluid) production.
protocol Detailed written instructions about how to complete a specific task. Describes how, when, where and who should be involved in the task. Protocols may refer to a clinical care process or the working relationship between agencies.
protocol-based care Protocol based care relates to standardising specific clinical care processes. It applies to both: (a) standardising care in generic settings by using tools, such as protocols and/or care pathways and/or clinical guidelines; and (b) specialist, expanded roles and new ways of delivering services where health care providers work within agreed boundaries for decision-making and action. This involves training, assessment and verification of competence to undertake extra responsibilities – see credentialing.
PSA Prostate Specific Antigen
psychiatrist A medical doctor who specialises in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders.
psychologist A health professional who can talk with patients and their families about emotional and personal matters, and can help them make decisions.
psycho-oncology Concerned with the psychological, social, behavioural, and ethical aspects of cancer. This subspecialty addresses the two major psychological dimensions of cancer: the psychological responses of patients to cancer at all stages of the disease and that of their families and caretakers; and the psychological, behavioural and social factors that may influence the disease process.
psychosocial Treatment that is intended to address psychological, social and some spiritual needs
quality assurance A formal methodology designed to assess the quality of products or services provided, often in relation to quality standards and procedures. Can include formal review of care, problem identification, corrective actions to remedy any deficiencies and evaluation of actions taken (Quality assurance is recognised by the international standard ISO 9000).
quality of life An individual’s overall appraisal of their situation and subjective sense of wellbeing. Quality of life encompasses symptoms of disease and side effects of treatment, functional capacity, social interactions and relationships, and occupational functioning. Key psychological aspects include subjective distress, satisfaction with treatment, existential issues, and the impact of illness and treatment on sexuality and body image.
RACGP Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
radiation oncologist A doctor who specialises in treating cancer with radiotherapy.
radiation therapist A health professional (not a medical doctor) who administers radiotherapy.
radical local excision An operation that cuts out the cancer and a larger area of normal tissue all around the cancer.
radiotherapy or radiation oncology The use of radiation, usually x-rays or gamma rays, to kill tumour cells or injure them so they cannot grow or multiply..
randomised controlled trial A trial in which participants are randomly allocated to receive the new treatment or the standard treatment (the control).
RANZCOG Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
RCPA Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia
rectum The last part of the bowel, leading to the anus, through which stool passes.
recurrent cancer A cancer that grows from the cells of a primary cancer that have evaded treatment.
referral pathways A referral pathway is a series of steps, including clinical intervention to be taken by health care providers in response to people newly diagnosed with cancer or with recurrent or progressive disease. Its aim is to ensure more appropriate referral of patients to specialist cancer services, including the multidisciplinary team. A referral pathway is a process as much as a product or tool. Ideally it is developed via a comprehensive and inclusive approach between cancer services and relevant health care agencies to establish relationships and a shared understanding and agreed ways of working together to better address the cancer care needs of a defined population.
relapse The return of a disease after a period of improvement.
remission Period of time when the symptoms of the cancer reduce or disappear. A partial remission is when there has been a significant improvement in the cancer. A complete remission is when there is no evidence of active disease. This does not necessarily mean that the cancer is cured.
resection Surgical removal of a portion of any part of the body.
respite A support service funded by the government for carers to take a break from caring.
risk A measure of how likely a person is to develop a disease or a side effect.
risk factor A substance or condition that increases an individual's chances of getting a particular type of cancer.
role redesign The process of redesigning existing roles as well as creating new roles in health service provision. It can involve expanding the depth and breadth of roles, moving tasks up or down a traditional single-discipline ladder, and crossing traditional discipline boundaries. Redesign may affect a whole healthcare team from support workers to the medical workforce, and may build on other initiatives which have attempted to extend or redesign the roles of particular clinical professions.
sarcoma A malignant tumour (a cancer) that starts in connective tissue.
scope of clinical practice The scope of clinical practice follows on from credentialing and involves delineating the extent of an individual health professional’s clinical practice within a particular organisation based on the individual’s credentials, competence, performance and professional suitability, and the needs and the capability of the organisation to support the health professional’s scope of clinical practice (Adapted from ACSQHC).
screening An organised program (using tests, examinations or other procedures) to identify disease such as cancer, or changes which may later develop into disease such as cancer, before symptoms appear. Can only be done if there is a reliable and simple test for the disease, such as the cervical smear test or mammogram.
secondary cancer Also called a metastasis. A tumour that has spread from the original site to another part of the body.
secondary health care A service provided by specialists who don’t normally have first contact with a patient.
SEER Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results
sentinel node The first lymph node to receive lymph fluid from a tumour.
service mapping The process of identifying all the organisations available to the community to support a particular type of service provision, e.g. cancer services. This involves identifying where specialist and diagnostic and primary care services are used, as this will be important for continuity of care. It also involves working out how and when they can be accessed and linked to provide continuity of care. (Also see process mapping).
side effect Unintended effects of a drug or treatment.
simulator A machine that takes x-rays to help pinpoint where radiotherapy should be targeted.
skin graft A piece of skin moved from one part of the body to another to cover a wound.
specialist A doctor who specialises in a particular area of medicine. Cancer specialists are called oncologists.
squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) A cancer that arises in squamous or skin-like cells.
stage The extent of a cancer and whether the disease has spread from an original site to other parts of the body.
staging Tests to find out, and also a means of describing, how far a cancer has spread. Conventionally refers to the allocation of categories (0, I, II, III, IV) to groupings of tumours defined by internationally agreed criteria. Frequently these are based on the tumour, the nodes and the metastases. Staging may be based on clinical or pathological features.
standard treatment The best proven treatment, based on results of past research.
standardisation The adoption of generally accepted uniform procedures, parts, dimensions, or materials that directly affect the design of a product, project or a service.
stoma An artificial opening into the body created by surgery to act as an exit for body wastes.
stomal therapy nurse A registered nurse who specialises in caring for people who have stomas.
strategy The detail of actions required to achieve each program/project objective
summative evaluation Summative evaluation examines the effects or outcomes of programs, determining the overall impact
support group People on whom an individual can rely for the provision of emotional caring and concern, and reinforcement of a sense of personal worth and value. Other components of support may include provision of practical or material aid, information, guidance, feedback and validation of the individual’s stressful experiences and coping choices.
supportive care Improving the comfort and quality of life for people with cancer.
surgeon A doctor who performs surgery to remove cancerous tissue.
surgery Treatment that involves an operation. This may involve removal of tissue, change in the organisation of the anatomy or placement of prostheses.
surgical oncologist A doctor who specialises in the surgical treatment of cancer.
survivorship In cancer, survivorship focuses on the health and life of a person with cancer beyond the diagnosis and treatment phases. Survivorship includes issues related to follow-up care, late effects of treatment, second cancers, and quality of life. Family members, friends, and caregivers are also part of the survivorship experience.
sustainability The degree to which the project impacts will continue beyond the life of the program.
tamoxifen A drug that blocks the effects of oestrogen in cancer cells; a treatment for oestrogen-receptive and progesterone-receptive cancers.
tertiary health care Care provided in a centre that has the personnel and facilities required for specialist investigation and treatment.
therapy Another word for treatment, and includes chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy and surgery.
tissue A collection of cells that make up each piece (or organ) of the body.
tissue biopsy Examination of tissue that has been removed from the body under a microscope so any abnormalities in the cells can be seen.
TNM Tumour Node Metastasis - a staging system used by clinicians to describe how advanced a particular cancer is - which then informs the type of treatment provided.
Torres Strait Islander A person of Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as a Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which he or she lives.
transformation zone The area where the squamous cells and glandular cells meet.
tumour An abnormal growth of tissue. It may be localised (benign) or invade adjacent tissues (malignant) or distant tissues (metastatic).
tumour board A treatment planning approach in which a number of doctors who are experts in different specialties (disciplines) review and discuss the medical condition and treatment options of a patient. Similar to a multidisciplinary team meeting, but tends not to consider the patient’s psychological and social needs
tumour markers Chemicals produced by cancer cells and released into the blood. These may suggest the presence of a tumour in the body. Some tumours will not have any tumour markers.
ulcer A small wound in the skin or lining of the mouth or stomach. May be sore and swollen.
ultrasound The use of soundwaves to build up a picture of the internal parts of the body.
urethra The tube that carries urine from the bladder out through the penis and to the outside of the body.
wart virus See human papillomavirus
WEDG Workforce Education & Development Group (Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney), formerly known as Office for Postgraduate Medical Education