Glossary for Immuno-oncology

ACQUIRED IMMUNITY

The aspect of the body’s immune response that is learned from encountering foreign antigens

ACTIVE IMMUNOTHERAPY

A type of immunotherapy that stimulates the person’s immune system to respond to one or more antigens by producing antibodies, e.g. a vaccine

ANAEMIA

A condition characterised by the shortage of red blood cells or haemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body)

B CELL

A type of white blood cell, or lymphocyte, that produces antibodies

BACTERIA

Microscopic single-celled organisms, some of which are capable of causing infection

BETA-BLOCKERS

Drugs that slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure

BONE MARROW

A spongy tissue found inside some bones (e.g. hip and thigh bones). It contains stem cells, which are cells that can develop into the red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets

BRONCHOSCOPY

A procedure by which a doctor inserts a special device into the main breathing tube (bronchus), usually via the nose or mouth, to examine the airways (including the lungs)

BSA

Body surface area; the measurement of the surface area of the body

CARDIAC

Relating to the heart

CARDIOLOGIST

A doctor who specialises in diseases and abnormalities of the heart

CHECKPOINT INHIBITOR

A type of drug that blocks certain immune response- inhibiting proteins made by immune system cells, such as T cells, and some cancer cells and thus enhances the body’s immune response

CHEMOTHERAPY

A type of cancer treatment using medicine that kills the cancer cells by damaging them, so that they cannot reproduce and spread

CLINICAL TRIAL

A study that evaluates the effects of a medical treatment or intervention

COLITIS

Inflammation of the colon or large intestine

COLON

Large intestine

ANTIBIOTICS

Drugs that fight bacterial infections

ANTIBODY

A blood protein produced in response to, and able to counteract, a specific antigen

ANTI-DIARRHOEAL

A medication that provides symptomatic relief from

diarrhoea ANTIGEN

A molecule capable of inducing an immune response

ANTIGEN-PRESENTING CELL

Any cell that can ingest and present an antigen to an immune cell in a form it recognises and responds to

ANTIHISTAMINE

A type of drug used to treat allergies

ATEZOLIZUMAB

A type of immunotherapy that blocks the interaction between PD-L1 and PD-1 on the surface of certain immune cells called T cells; this activates T cells

to find and kill cancer cells. Atezolizumab is a monoclonal antibody. It is administered through a drip into a vein in your arm or chest

AUTOIMMUNITY

An immune response against the body’s own healthy cells and tissues

AVELUMAB

A type of immunotherapy that blocks the interaction between PD-L1 and PD-1 on the surface of certain immune cells called T cells; this activates T cells to find and kill cancer cells. Avelumab is a monoclonal antibody. It is administered through a drip into a vein in your arm or chest

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ESMO Patients Guide

 GLOSSARY

COLONOSCOPY

A procedure in which a flexible instrument is inserted into the anus (back passage) in order to examine the colon

FATIGUE

Overwhelming tiredness

FUNGI

Microscopic organisms some of which are capable of causing infection

GASTROINTESTINAL

Relating to stomach and intestines

GASTROINTESTINAL TRACT

The digestive tract, comprising a large muscular tube extending from the mouth to the anus (back passage) via the stomach that is responsible for digesting food and expelling waste products as stools (faeces)

HAIR FOLLICLE

A small sac in the skin from which hair grows from

HEPATITIS

Inflammation of the liver

HORMONE

A chemical messenger produced by a specialised gland in the body

HYPERTHYROIDISM Overactivity of the thyroid gland

HYPOPHYSITIS

Inflammation of the pituitary gland (located in the brain)

HYPOTHYROIDISM

Underactivity of the thyroid gland

IMMUNE CELL

A cell involved in an immune response or forming part of the immune system

IMMUNE CHECKPOINT

A molecule in the immune system that either turns up a signal (enhances the immune response) or turns down a signal (decreases the immune response)

IMMUNE RESPONSE

The reaction of cells and fluids of the body to the presence of a substance which is not recognised as a part of the body itself

IMMUNE SYSTEM

The system in the body that works to ward off infection and disease

IMMUNO-ONCOLOGICAL

Relating to immuno-oncology (next page)

CONSTIPATION

Difficulty emptying the bowels, usually associated with hardened faeces

CORNEA

The transparent layer forming the front of the eye

CORTICOSTEROID

A type of steroid drug used to relieve inflammation

CT SCAN

Computed tomography; a scan using x-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the inside of your body

CTLA-4

A special protein molecule that, functioning as an immune checkpoint, “turns down” an immune response once it has done its job

CTLA-4 INHIBITOR

A type of drug that blocks the CTLA-4 immune checkpoint on the surface of certain immune cells called T cells; this activates T cells to find and kill cancer cells, thereby enhancing the immune response

CYTOTOXIC T CELL

A type of white blood cell, or lymphocyte, able to kill infected or cancer cells

DERMATOLOGIST

A doctor who specialises in diseases of the skin

DIARRHOEA

Abnormal frequency of loose or liquid stools (faeces)

DURVALUMAB

A type of immunotherapy that blocks the interaction between PD-L1 and PD-1 on the surface of certain immune cells called T cells; this activates T cells to find and kill cancer cells. Durvalumab is a monoclonal antibody. It is administered through a drip into a vein in your arm or chest

ELECTROLYTE

A substance (e.g. sodium or calcium) that regulates the flow of nutrients into, and waste products out of, cells

ENDOCRINE

Relating to glands that secrete hormones into the bloodstream

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 GLOSSARY

IMMUNO-ONCOLOGY

The discipline in medicine that uses strategies harnessing the immune system to treat cancer

IMMUNOSUPPRESSIVE

Drugs or other factors that partially or completely suppressing the immune response

IMMUNOTHERAPY

The prevention or treatment of disease with substances that stimulate (or suppress) the immune response

INFLIXIMAB

A type of drug called a monoclonal antibody that is used to treat autoimmune diseases

INNATE IMMUNITY

A non-specific type of immunity that humans are born with and which does not require a learning process or prior exposure to an antigen

INTRAVENOUS

Administered into a vein

IPILIMUMAB

A type of immunotherapy that blocks the CTLA-4 immune checkpoint on the surface of certain immune cells called T cells; this activates T cells to find and kill cancer cells. Ipilimumab is a monoclonal antibody. It is administered through a drip into a vein in your arm

LEUCOCYTE

A white blood cell involved in the immune response

LEUCOPAENIA

A decrease in the number of leucocytes (a type of white blood cell) in the blood, which places individuals at increased risk of infection

LOPERAMIDE

A drug used to treat diarrhoea

LYMPHATIC SYSTEM

The network of vessels through which a clear fluid called lymph drains from the tissues into the blood; it is a vital part of the immune system

LYMPHOCYTE

A type of white blood cell

LYMPHOID

Relating to cells, tissues and organs that make up the

lymphatic system

MAJOR HISTOCOMPATIBILITY COMPLEX

A group of protein molecules on the surface of cells that enable the immune system to differentiate self from non-self

MALIGNANT

Malignant is another term for cancerous. Malignant cells can invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body

MEMORY CELL

A long-lived lymphocyte capable of remembering and responding to a particular antigen the next time it encounters it

MICROORGANISM

A microscopic organism (e.g. a virus)

MOLECULE

The smallest physical unit of a substance

MONOCLONAL ANTIBODY

A type of targeted therapy. Monoclonal antibodies recognise and attach to specific proteins produced by cells. Each monoclonal antibody recognises one particular protein. They work in different ways depending on the protein they are targeting

MUCOSITIS

The painful inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract

MUTATED

Relating to a permanent alteration in the DNA sequence that makes up a gene, such that the sequence differs from what is found in most people

NAUSEA

A feeling of sickness with an urge to vomit (be sick)

NEUROLOGICAL

Relating to any aspect of the nervous system

NEUTROPAENIA

An abnormally low level of neutrophils in the blood, which increases risk of infection

NIVOLUMAB

A type of immunotherapy that blocks a protein called PD-1 on the surface of certain immune cells called T cells; this activates the T cells to find and kill cancer cells. Nivolumab is a monoclonal antibody. It is administered through a drip into a vein in your arm or chest

ORAL

By mouth

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ESMO Patients Guide

 GLOSSARY

PASSIVE IMMUNOTHERAPY

Interventions designed to improve upon the body’s existing immune response

PEMBROLIZUMAB

A type of immunotherapy that blocks a protein called PD-1 on the surface of certain immune cells called

T cells; this activates the T cells to find and kill cancer cells. Pembrolizumab is a monoclonal antibody. It is administered through a drip into a vein in your arm or chest

PD-1

A special protein molecule that, functioning as an immune checkpoint, “turns down” an immune response once it has done its job

PD-1 INHIBITOR

A type of drug that blocks the PD-1 immune checkpoint and thus enhances the immune response

PD-L1

A special protein molecule that binds to, and activates, PD-1, in order to “turns down” an immune response

PD-L1 INHIBITOR

A type of drug that blocks PD-L1 and thus enhances the immune response

PITUITARY GLAND

The major endocrine gland, a pea-sized structure attached to the base of the brain

PLATELET

A tiny blood cell that helps your body form clots to stop bleeding

PNEUMONITIS

Inflammation of the walls of the alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs

PROTEIN

A large molecule that makes up most of the organs and tissues of the body

PRURITUS

Itching

RED BLOOD CELL

The blood cells that carry oxygen around the body and remove carbon dioxide

REPRODUCTIVE TRACT

Organ system by which humans reproduce and (in females) bear offspring

RESPIRATORY

Relating to the respiratory tract (below)

RESPIRATORY TRACT

The passage formed by the mouth, nose, throat and lungs through which air passes during breathing

RHEUMATOLOGICAL

Relating to the branch of medicine that deals with the study and treatment of rheumatic diseases

SELF-ANTIGEN

A molecule that is recognised as belonging to the body and which does not normally evoke an immune response in the same person

SIGMOIDOSCOPY

A procedure by which a doctor inserts a special device into the rectum (back passage) to examine the lower portion of the large intestine (or bowel)

SPLEEN

A small organ in the abdomen that cleans the blood and is a key part of the immune system

STEROID

See corticosteroid

T CELL

A type of white blood cell or lymphocyte

T CELL RECEPTOR (TCR)

A molecule on the surface of T cells that recognises antigens

THROMBOCYTOPAENIA

A deficiency of platelets in the blood. This causes bleeding into the tissues, bruising, and slow blood clotting after injury

THYMUS GLAND

A small organ situated in the neck that produces T cells for the immune system

THYROID GLAND

A butterfly-shaped organ located in the lower part of the neck at the front. It releases hormones that control metabolism (the way the body uses energy)

TOPICAL

Applied directly to a particular part of the body

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 GLOSSARY

TUMOUR

A lump or growth of abnormal cells. Tumours may be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). In this guide, the term ‘tumour’ refers to a cancerous growth, unless otherwise stated

TUMOUR ANTIGEN

An antigen produced by tumour cells

TUMOUR-INFILTRATING LYMPHOCYTE

White blood cells that have left the bloodstream and migrated into a tumour

TUMOUR-TARGETED DRUGS

A newer type of cancer treatment using drugs that precisely identify and attack cancer cells, usually while doing little damage to normal cells

URINARY TRACT

Collective term for the bladder, kidneys, ureters and urethra

VIRUS

A very small microorganism that can grow and reproduce inside a living cell in the body

VITILIGO

A skin disorder in which pigment is lost causing white patches on various parts of the body

VOMITING

Forcible ejection of stomach contents through the mouth

WHITE BLOOD CELL

A type of blood cell (leucocyte) involved in the immune response

X-RAY

An imaging test, using a type of radiation that can pass through the body, that allows your doctor to see inside your body

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