Cancer

Diseases caused by cells growing and dividing in an uncontrolled way, often called malignant disease.

Cancer related Fatigue (CRF)

Fatigue is common in all types of cancer and CLL is no exception. Although there’s no standard treatment for cancer related fatigue (CRF), the first step in treating CRF is often to identify and treat any of its underlying causes (such as anemia or poor nutrition) and other contributing health problems. Several therapies and lifestyle changes may help restore your energy. Read more

Candida

A type of fungus, candida infection in the mouth (oral thrush) is a common problem for immunosuppressed patients.

Cannula

A tube which is inserted into the body, usually into a vein, to allow fluids or medicines to enter the body. The cannula can also be used to get blood samples.

Carcinogen

A substance which has the ability to cause cells to become cancerous.

Carcinogenesis

The development of cancer.

CT scan (or CAT scan)

CT is short for computer-assisted tomography. It is a sophisticated x-ray technique used to produce detailed internal images of the body, particularly the chest and abdomen. The patient lies on a table which gradually moves through the x-ray machine and the image is built up by a computer as a cross section through the body.

Catheter

A hollow tube inserted into organs of the body so that gases or liquids can be put in or removed. For example, a catheter can remove urine from the bladder.

Cell biology

The study of the structure, composition and function of cells.

Cell markers

A cell marker is a particular chemical or protein on the outside of a cell which can be used to distinguish between different cells. This can be useful in diagnosis, in treatment or in research.

Cells

Individual units from which tissues of the body are formed.

Central line

A catheter (or tube) inserted into a large blood vessel to allow drugs to be given effectively and blood samples taken without repeated needle-pricks. Particular types include Hickman™ Line and Portacath™.

Chemotherapy

Treatment using anti-cancer drugs. A single drug or a combination of drugs may be used to kill cells or stop them growing and dividing. Although aimed at the cancer cells, chemotherapy also affects rapidly dividing normal cells such as in the hair and gut. This can cause hair loss and nausea, but this is usually temporary and reversible.

Chickenpox

Chickenpox is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV), also known as human herpes virus 3 (HHV-3), is one of the eight herpes virus known to affect humans. The life cycle of VZV causes it to be very contagious.

Chlorambucil

is a chemotherapy drug that has been mainly used in the treatment of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) and can be given orally. It’s sometimes given in combination with rituximab. It can have side effects, such as low blood counts and infections, but is generally well tolerated. It’s sometimes used in people who aren’t fit enough to receive FCR or bendamustine.

Chromosomes

Chromosomes carry the 30,000 or so genes which provide the inherited blue-print of each individual. In humans there are normally 23 pairs of chromosomes contained in the nucleus of each cell. Changes in the number or organisation of the chromosomes may play a key role in the development of cancer.

Chronic

A chronic condition is one which starts slowly and progresses slowly. Chronic does not necessarily mean it is not serious. It may be diagnosed by chance following a routine blood test and before clinical symptoms appear.

Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML) or Chronic Granulocytic Leukaemia (CGL)

A leukaemia which at first progresses slowly starting in bone marrow stem cells, which are the cells that produce all blood cells. There are about 500 new cases each year in the UK. People with this condition have large numbers of abnormal, mature granulocytes in the blood. Blood cells can be divided into two main types. These are:

  • lymphoid cells, which include lymphocytes and related cells and are key components of the immune system
  • myeloid cells, which are red blood cells, platelets and all other white cells – neutrophils, monocytes, eosinophils and basophils.

The disease is known as CML because the leukaemic cells in both the bone marrow and the circulating blood look like myeloid cells.

Clinical nurse specialist (CNS)

A qualified nurse who specialises in a particular clinical area. Some CNSs deal with all blood cancers while others may specialise in myeloma, lymphoma or another specific area. A CNS can provide information and expert advice about your condition and treatment.

Clinical trial

A carefully monitored trial of new forms of treatment. They can vary in design and size from trials of new treatments involving small numbers of patients to large national trials which compare variations in current therapies. Patients will always be informed when their treatment is part of a trial.

Clone

A clone is a group of genetically identical cells which all come from the same mother cell.

Clotting factors

Chemicals in the blood (factors I to XIII) which interact to make the blood clot.

Coagulation

Clotting of the blood. A complex reaction depending on a series of proteins (clotting factors) and platelets in the blood.

Consolidation treatment

A course of treatment with anti-cancer drugs given to a patient who is in remission with the aim of killing any remaining malignant cells.

Corticosteroids (steroids)

A group of man-made hormones used to treat some leukaemias and myeloma. May also be used to make it less likely that a graft will be rejected or that a patient will get graft versus host disease after a stem cell transplant. Side-effects include an increased risk of infection, rise in blood pressure, peptic ulcers, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

Cyclophosphamide

Cyclophosphamide is used to treat cancers and autoimmune disorders.

Cyclosporin

A drug used to prevent and treat rejection and graft versus host disease in transplant patients by suppressing their normal immune system.

Cytogenetics

The study of the structure of chromosomes. Cytogenetic tests are carried out on samples of blood and bone marrow taken from leukaemia patients to detect any chromosomal abnormalities associated with the disease. These help in diagnosing the condition and selecting  the best treatment.

Cytomegalovirus

A virus which is harmless in healthy people but may cause serious disease in severely immunosuppressed patients. Particularly dangerous following a stem cell transplant.

Cytopenia

A condition in which there are fewer cells circulating in the blood.

Cytotoxic drugs

Anti-cancer drugs which act by killing or preventing the division of cells.