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Chemotherapy Glossary


Adjuvant chemotherapy

Anticancer drugs given after surgery/treatment to assist the body in fighting remaining cancerous cells.

Alkylating Agents

Class of chemotherapy drugs that work to stop tumor growth by cross-linking guanine nucleobases making cells unable to divide. One of the more common alkylating agents used to treat mesothelioma is Cisplatin.


A sudden allergic reaction to a substance. Often accompanied by cardiac arrest, the most potent of reactions, anaphylactic shock, can lead to death within minutes if untreated. Symptoms can include difficulty breathing, fainting, hypotension, skin rashes, and swelling around the upper body.


A condition that develops when you lose a number of healthy red blood cells


Powerful chemotherapy drugs that get in between DNA sequences to hinder cell division while emitting free radical substances which damage the cell. While classified as antibiotics, their high toxicity makes them unsuitable to treat common conditions.


A medicine that controls or prevents nausea and vomiting.


A medicine used to control by inhibiting the action of folic acid. Also called folate antagonist.


Loss of muscular coordination often caused by tumors or peripheral neuropathy that damage the brain or spinal cord.

Biological therapy

Treatments that aim to stimulate your body’s natural cancer fighting responses. (Also called immunotherapy).

Blood cell count

Also called complete blood count it is the total number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in a sample of blood. See page on thrombocytopenia.


A disease where abnormal/damaged cells grow out of control


Injection of a high concentration of chemotherapy medicine directly to the organ.


The use of drugs to treat cancer.


Chemotherapy drug that stops cancerous cells from dividing by cross-linking DNA strands. Unable to divide, the cell undergoes apoptosis (self-destruction) and is eventually removed through phagocytosis..

Colony-stimulating factors

Substances that work to help blood generating tissues recover from the effects of radiation or chemotherapy.

Combination chemotherapy

The treatment of cancer using more than one drug.


Drugs that help the body get rid of excess water and salt.

Dose-Dense Chemotherapy

Explanation here.


An antibiotic specifically used for chemotherapy patients to hinder cancer cell growth. It is a member of the Anthracycline class of drugs.


Substances produced by the endocrine glands of the body. Hormones are released directly into the bloodstream and have a specific effect on cells and organs in the body, stimulating or turning off their growth.


Intravenous delivery of a drug or fluids.


A cancerous tumor


General term for common muscle pain. Myalgia occurring in areas that have not been overused or injured can be symptomatic of a viral infection or other medical problems.

Palliative care

Treatment that focuses on providing relief from a disease rather than treating it.

Pemetrexed care

An antimetabolite agent, it blocks enzymes required for cellular production of DNA and RNA helping to slow or stop tumor growth.

Peripheral neuropathy

A condition of the nervous system that usually begins in the hands and/or feet with symptoms of numbness, tingling, burning and/or weakness. Can be caused by certain anticancer drugs.

Radiation Therapy

Cancer treatment with radiation (high-energy rays) to kill cancerous cells.


A ribonuclease enzyme found in the Northern Leopard Frog it is being studied for cancer treatment. The enzyme induces the breakdown of cellular RNA making a cell unable to reproduce.

Red Blood Cells

Cells that supply oxygen to tissues throughout the body. Anemia is a condition that can develop in chemotherapy patients if the number begins to decline.


The partial or complete disappearance of signs and symptoms of cancer.

Spindle Inhibitors

Drugs that affect the structural process that allows cell division or mitosis. More.


An abnormal growth of cells or tissues. Tumors may be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Vinca Alkaloids

A class of alkaloids originally derived from plants that stop mitosis and can disrupt the cellular membrane. More on vinca alkaloids.

White blood cells

Cells that fight infection, along with B-Cells they are important in biological therapy treatments.

Background to chemotherapy

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