Understanding medical language

A doctor explains to a mother and a boy with cancer, who is in a hospital bed

The medical words your doctors and nurses use may seem like a foreign language. It can be frustrating or upsetting if you don’t understand the information you’re given about your child’s illness or treatment. 

Your doctors and nurses may not realise you don’t understand, as the language of cancer and treatment are normal for them. 

It’s important to understand your child’s cancer, treatment and side-effects and to get help with any problems you’re having. Don’t be left with unanswered questions or worries - our tips can help you. 

Prepare 

  • Before you talk to doctors or nurses, think about what’s on your mind. Do you have questions or worries? Does your child have side-effects or symptoms? Are you finding it hard to cope?  Bring a list of questions with you.
  • Ask someone to go with you to the appointment. They can support you, ask questions and take notes. This will help you to remember everything afterwards. 
  • Bring a list of your medicines so you know which ones to ask about.

Ask questions

  • Mention anything that’s on your mind, even if it doesn’t come up in conversation. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It can be hard to have confidence to ask, but really try. Even read from your list. It is better to ask and to understand.
  • Try not to feel rushed. Ask all your questions. The doctor or nurse will take the time to explain if you ask.
  • Check who to contact if you have any more questions. 

Check your understanding

  • Say if you’re not clear about something. Ask the doctor or nurse to explain the information again. They may not realise that you don’t understand, so tell them if things are not clear. 
  • Repeat back what you’ve understood. This will help to make sure you have got the right information. 
  • Ask the doctor to write down the main things for you to take home.
  • Ask if there is someone you can contact if you have any further questions,
  • Make another appointment if you have any more questions.

Remember to take away any written information and leaflets you are offered. You can look at these in your own time with family members and your doctor. 

Follow up

If you are worried, anxious or have questions when you get home, reach out to:

  • Your hospital team
  • Your GP or family Doctor and 
  • our cancer nurses from the Irish Cancer Society

Our nurses can connect you with extra support, such as counselling and support groups. 

Glossary of medical words

A

Abdominal: To do with the abdomen, the part of the body between the chest and the hips. Your abdomen contains organs such as your stomach, liver and intestines.

Ablative therapy: Treatment that removes or destroys the function of an organ or system. For example, high dose chemotherapy and radiation before a bone marrow transplant is considered ablative therapy because it wipes out your immune system

Abnormal: Not normal

Absolute neutrophil count (ANC): The percentage of neutrophils that are part of your total white blood count. If your ANC is less than 1,000, you are more vulnerable to infection.

Acute: Occurring suddenly, or sharply over a short period of time

Adjuvant chemotherapy (Ah-jeu-vent): This refers to any therapy used after primary treatment to reduce the risk of the cancer recurring.

Adrenal gland:  Your adrenal glands are located above your kidneys, these glands make hormones that control important parts of your body such as your blood pressure and heart rate. Some cancer can originate in the adrenal glands.

Afebrile: Having a normal temperature

AFP: Alpha-fetoprotein: A protein that is sometimes present in the blood stream of patients that have testicular cancer.

Aggressive: In medical terms, aggressive means fast growing.

ALL: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

AML: Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.

Allogenic: This term is often used to describe a type of bone marrow transplant whereby cells are taken from a relative to give to the patient.

Alopecia (Ah-low-pee-sha): Loss of hair. Alopecia may be caused by taking certain drugs (cytotoxic drugs). It may also be caused by radiotherapy to the head. If alopecia occurs because of treatment, the hair usually grows back when the treatment stops.

Alternative therapies: These are non-conventional treatment therapies that are used instead of medically proven treatment. It is recommended that you discuss the use of alternative therapies with your health care team.

Anaemia: A reduced number of red blood cells that can leave you feel fatigued and have shortness of breath.

Anaesthetic: Drugs that put your child to sleep (general anaesthetic) or that numb a part of their body (local anaesthetic).

Analgesia: Pain killers.

Absolute neutrophil count: The percentage of neutrophils that are part of your total white blood count. If your ANC is less than 1,000, you are more prone to infection.

Anorexia: Loss of appetite for food.

Antibiotics: Drugs used to fight bacterial infections.

Antibodies: Proteins created by the immune system and released into the blood when exposed to foreign proteins such as viruses and bacteria.

Anticoagulants: Drugs used to reduce the blood's ability to clot.

Anti-emetics: Anti-sickness drugs. They prevent or relieve nausea and vomiting, common side effects of chemotherapy.

Antifungals: Drugs used to fight fungal infections.

Anxiety: Feelings of fear, dread or uneasiness. Many cancer patients experience anxiety.

Artery: Blood vessels that pump oxygenated blood away from the heart around the body.

Ascites (Ah-site-ease): An abnormal build-up of fluid in the abdomen.

Ataxia: Clumsiness, dizziness, lack of co-ordination

Atypical: Not normal or typical.

Audiogram: A hearing test that is not painful. Your child wears headphones and responds to various volumes and tones.

Autograft: This term is often used to describe a type of bone marrow transplant whereby the patient’s own cells are used in treatment.

Axillary: The armpit area.

B

bd (or) bid: Medical notation for twice per day.

Benign: A tumour or growth that is not malignant or cancerous but may still cause problems.

Biological therapies: Biological therapies use substances that occur naturally in the body to destroy cancer cells. The main types of biological therapies are monoclonal antibodies, cancer growth inhibitors, gene therapy and vaccines.

Biopsy: A small sample of tissue taken from the body to make a diagnosis. There are many different types of biopsy  

Blood tests: Doctors often examine the blood to help them to diagnose your child’s illness. Blood tests may be done when your child is diagnosed, during treatment, and afterwards at follow-up appointments. 

Blood count: A blood test to check the number of white cells, red cells and platelets in the blood. Sometimes it is called a full blood count or FBC.

Blood transfusion: The infusion of red blood cells into the blood stream to replace blood loss or to correct anaemia.

Bone marrow: The spongy material in the centre of large bones in the body, which makes blood cells.

Blood typing and cross matching: A test making sure that the blood from a donor is compatible with yours before a blood transfusion. Before a transfusion can be given, blood samples from the donor and you are typed. The four principal red blood cell types or groups are A, B, AB or O. Other factors such as Rh factor and virology must also be checked.

Bone marrow aspirate/biopsy: A test that takes samples of bone and bone marrow and examines them under a microscope. If bone is taken, it is called a trephine biopsy. If bone marrow is taken it is called an aspirate. The test is usually done in theatre. 

Bone marrow transplant: A procedure to replace bone marrow that has been destroyed by high dose cancer treatment such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. There are different types of transplants. In allogeneic transplantation, bone marrow from another individual, sometimes a brother or sister with the same tissue type is used. In autologous bone marrow transplantation, some of your own bone marrow is removed and set aside before treatment and then re-infused. In umbilical cord blood transplantation, stem cells removed from the umbilical cords of newborns (a very rich source) is used for transplantation

Bone scan: A test that can show if cancer is present in bones using a radioactive dye. 

Brain tumours: There are lots of different types of brain tumours, the most common type are gliomas. Common brain tumours in children include medulloblastomas, astrocytomas, ependymomas and brain stem gliomas.

C

Cachexia (Ka-hex-ee-ah): A profound state general of ill health characterised by malnutrition and loss of weight.

Carcinogenic (Car-sin-o-jen-ick): Cancer causing.

Carcinoma: Cancer that starts to grow in the skin or in the tissue that covers internal organs.

Cardiac: Relating to the heart.

Catheter: A thin, flexible tube used to give fluid into the body or to drain fluid from the body. For example, a urinary catheter or a central line, i.e. Hickman line. 

Chronic: A condition that lasts for a long time.

Cellulitis: Inflammation of the skin.

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF):  Fluid made in the brain that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

Chemotherapy: Drug treatment that kills cancer cells.

Chromosome: Structure in the nucleus of the cell that contains the genetic make-up of the cell.

Chronic:  A condition that lasts for a long time.

Clinical trial: A clinical trial is a scientific study involving patient care designed to assess the value of a new treatment or therapy compared to current practice.

CML: Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia

CNS Central nervous system: It refers to the brain and spinal cord.

Colostomy (Co-loss-toe-me): A colostomy is the term used to describe the opening formed by an operation where the open end of a part of the large bowel is diverted to the surface of the abdomen and secured there to form a new exit for waste matter.

Complementary therapies: These are therapies that compliment current medical therapies but do not replace them.

Congenital: Any condition existing at birth.

Constipation: Finding it painful or difficult to have regular bowel motions (poo)

CT scan: A computerised axial tomography scan. It is a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body taken from different angles. The pictures are created by a computer linked to an X-ray machine. Sometimes a dye called contrast may need to be given before the scan to get a better picture.

Culture: A procedure using a sample of blood, urine, throat secretions or other biological material that identifies the specific organism responsible for an infection. Cultures also help determine which antibiotics might be most effective.

Cyst: A non-cancerous growth, normally filled with fluid.

Cyto- : To do with cells.

Cytogenetics: The study of chromosomes in cells.

D

Daffodil centres: The Daffodil centre is an extension of the Irish Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Service. The centres are located in some hospital foyers, close to the main entrance and provide a facility where people can engage directly with the Cancer Information Service nurse who is assisted by trained volunteers.

Diagnosis: Identifying a disease by its signs or symptoms, and by using imaging procedures and laboratory findings.

Diarrhoea: Frequent, loose and watery stools.

Dietitian: A health care professional who focuses on nutrition.

Distress: An unpleasant emotional experience of a psychological, social, and / or spiritual nature that may interfere with the ability to cope with cancer.

Depression: A mental health illness whereby the patient experiences feelings of sadness, despair and loss of interest in life.

DNA: The genetic information inside cells.

Dysfunctional: Something not working properly.

Dysphagia (dis-fage-ee-a): Difficulty swallowing.

Dysphasia: Difficulty speaking.

Dyspnoea: Difficulty breathing.

DVT: (Deep Venous Thrombosis): A blood clot deep in a vein, normally in the leg.

E

ECG: Electrocardiogram. This tests the electrical activity of the heart muscle. Electrical sensors are placed on your child’s chest for the test.

ECHO: Echocardiogram. This is an ultrasound scan of the heart. It checks how well the heart is working. 

EEG: Electroencephalogram. This tests the electrical activity of the brain. It is not painful but will involve electrical sensors being attached to your child’s head.

Electrolytes: The minerals and salts in the body. For example, sodium, potassium and calcium.

Emesis: To vomit.

Endocrine: To do with hormones

ENT: Ear, Nose and Throat.

Epstein Barr Virus: A virus which can increase a person’s risk of developing some types of lymphoma.

Excision: Cutting out.

F

FBC: Full blood count: A measure of the number of platelets, red and white blood cells.

Febrile: Fever, raised body temperature.

Fertility: The ability to have children.

Financial assistance:  This is a limited fund from the Irish Cancer Society for cases where other non-charitable sources are unable to help.

Foot drop: Weakness in your foot muscles.

Fractionation: This is the term used to describe giving radiation over a number of sessions, rather than one large dose during a single session.

G

Gastroenterology: To do with the digestive system.

GCSF: A growth factor called granulocyte colony-stimulating factor. This protein boosts the bone marrow making white blood cells, usually neutrophils.

Genetic: A condition caused by abnormal genes (may be inherited).

Gene therapy: An experimental treatment that involves inserting a normal gene into a cancerous cell to cause cell death or to slow down the growth of cancer.

GFR: Glomerular filtration rate is a test that shows how well the kidneys are working.

Grading: The procedure of examining a cancer cell under a microscope and finding out how slow or quickly it will grow and spread.

Gynaecology: To do with the female reproductive system.

H

Harvest: The removal of a donor's bone marrow prior to bone marrow transplant.
Hepatits B & C virus: These are viruses that affect the liver. 
Hereditary: Passed from parents to children through your genes.

Hickman line: This is the name given to a special type of intravenous line that is inserted into a large vein in the neck. A Hickman line or catheter may stay in place for several months allowing drugs to be given or samples of blood to be drawn off.

Histopathology: Histopathology is the science concerned with the study of microscopic changes in diseased tissues.

Haematology: The study of blood and blood disorders.

Haemoglobin (Hb): The substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body often referred to as Hb.

Histopathology: The study of body tissues.

Hormone: A substance made by a gland and carried in the bloodstream to parts of the body where it has a specific effect on the way the body works.

HPV: Human Papilloma Virus - A virus responsible for the growth of soft wart-like growths on the genitalia. Certain types of HPV are linked with the development of cervical cancer. HPV is most commonly transmitted via sexual intercourse.

Hyperplasia: Over growth of the cells of any tissue.

Hypertrophy: An enlargement of the cells of any tissue.

HSE: Health Service Executive – The organisation which runs all of the public health services in Ireland.

Hypertension: High blood pressure

Hypotension: Low blood pressure

I

Immune system: The body’s defence against infection, disease and foreign substances.

Immunity: The state of your body's defences against a particular infection or possibly against a certain cancer.

Immunology: The study of the body’s immune system, which fights infection.

Immunophenotyping: A test to identify particular proteins in the cells to help find out information about the cancer and to help plan the best way to treat it. 

Immunosuppressive: Lowering the body’s ability to fight infection.

Immunotherapy: Treatment that supports the immune system’s response to a disease such as cancer.

Incidence: This refers to the frequency, or how often a cancer is diagnosed.

Infectious disease: A disease caused by germs; one that can be passed from one to another. Cancer is not an infectious disease.

Inguinal: Refers to the groin region.

Inpatient: When a patient is admitted to hospital and has to stay overnight.

Intramuscular (IM): Giving medicine into a muscle.

Intrathecal (IT): Giving medicine into the spine, usually by lumbar puncture. See also lumbar puncture.

Intravenous (IV): Giving medicine into a vein.

Invasive cancer: This means that the cancer has grown beyond the tissues that it started in and spread to surrounding healthy tissue.

J

Jaundice: A yellowish discoloration of the skin and white portion of the eyes due to the accumulation of billirubin, a breakdown product of haemoglobin. This indicates liver that the liver is not functioning properly. 

K

Kidney: The organ involved in the filtration of certain body waste products and in the maintenance of electrolyte and fluid balance.

L

Laparoscopy: A minimally invasive surgical technique, where a small incision is made and a camera is used to direct surgery inside the body.

Lesion: Any pathological change in a tissue, sometimes cancerous.

Leukaemia: Cancer of the blood or blood-forming organs

Li-Fraumeni syndrome: An inherited condition that can increase the risk of developing one or more types of cancer including breast cancer, brain cancer, osteosarcoma, and other sarcomas.

Liver: An organ in the body which performs many functions necessary for life. These include processes related to digestion, production of certain proteins, and elimination of many of the body's waste products.

Lumbar puncture (LP): This can be done to diagnose, prevent or treat disease. The fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord is called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). During the test, some CSF is removed by putting a needle into the lower back and the fluid is then examined in the laboratory to diagnose if disease is present, and treatment can be given into the CSF to prevent or treat disease.

Lymph:  A clear fluid that is part of the body’s defence against infection. It is carried around the body in a network of lymphatic vessels.

Lymphatic system: Part of the circulatory system. It consists of a network of vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph in the direction of the heart. Excess fluid (lymph) in the tissues is drained by the lymphatic system into the bloodstream. It also defends the immune system.

Lymph nodes: Small bean-shaped structures found along vessels in the lymphatic system. They become enlarged due to infection or cancer.

Lymphocyte: A type of white blood cell that fights infection. 

Lymphoma (lim-foam-uh): Cancer of the lymphatic system, a network of thin vessels and nodes throughout the body. The two main types of lymphoma are Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The treatment methods for these two types of lymphomas are very different.

M

Malignant: A tumour or growth that is cancerous. If a tumour is malignant it grows uncontrollably and can travel to other parts of the body. 

Margins: ‘Clear margins’ is a term surgeons often use to explain that the tissue they removed during surgery contains the cancer cells. This means the surgeon is happy that they removed all of the cancer.

Mass: An abnormal growth that can be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign).

MDT: Multi-disciplinary team meeting: This refers to a meeting of lots of different types of health care professionals to discuss a patient.

Metastases: Tumours that have spread from the first (primary) tumour into another part of the body. Also known as secondary tumours.

MIBG scan: Metaiodobenzylguanidine scan. It is usually done in children who have a diagnosis of neuroblastoma. A radioactive substance being is injected into the bloodstream and a scan is taken the next day. This will show up any areas of tumour in the body. 

Microbiology: The study of germs.

Monoclonal antibodies: Monoclonal antibodies are antibodies made in a laboratory. They aim to destroy some types of cancer cells while causing minimum damage to normal cells.

Morbidity: This refers to the state of being ill or quality of life.

Mortality: This refers to the number of deaths occurring in a certain time period.

MRI scan: Magnetic resonance imaging scan. This uses radio waves and a powerful magnet linked to a computer to take detailed pictures of areas inside the body. These pictures can show the difference between normal and diseased tissue. 

Mucositis: Inflammation of the mucous membrane inside the mouth

Myelodysplasia: This refers to a group of disorders where the bone marrow does not function normally. Some myelodysplastic disorders can lead to the development of leukaemia.

Myelosupression: This term refers to the effect that some cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy have on the bone marrow causing a reduction in platelets, red cells and white cells.

N

Nausea: Feeling sick.

NCCP: National Cancer Control Programme – A programme within the HSE that controls cancer care in the public health system.

NCRI: National Cancer Registry of Ireland – A registry which collects cancer statistics.

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy: This is chemotherapy given before surgery to reduce a large tumour so that it is more surgically manageable.

Neoplasm (Knee-o-plas-im): Term for a tumour which may be benign or cancerous.

Neuro- :  To do with the nerves or the nervous system.

Neuro-oncology: To do with brain tumours.

Neutropenia or neutropenic: Low levels of neutrophils.

Neutropenia: A lower than normal amount of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell. Your white blood cells can be affected by your cancer treatment, e.g. Chemotherapy.

Neutrophils: White blood cells that fight infection

Nasogastric tube: A thin tube passed through the nose into the stomach. 

Night Nursing: The Irish Cancer Society provides a Night Nursing service for critically ill patients with cancer in their home. Night Nurses sit with the patient through the night, providing nursing care, practical support and reassurance.

NHL: Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

NSAID: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

O

Oncologist (On-coll-o-gist): A doctor specialising in treating cancer.

Oncology: The study and treatment of tumours or cancer.

Opioid: Type of pain killer to treat moderate to severe pain. Opioids are sometimes referred to as  narcotics.

Ophthalmology: The study of the eyes.

Oral: To do with the mouth.

Orthopaedic: To do with the bones.

Osteo- :  To do with bones.

OT: Occupational therapist – Healthcare professionals concerned with helping people with disabilities to achieve their maximum level of independence.

Outpatient: Attending hospital for an appointment, test or treatment and going home afterwards.

P

Paediatric: To do with children.

Palliative: Relief of a symptom (for example, pain) to improve quality of life rather than cure of the disease.

Pathology: The study and diagnosis of diseases.

PE: Pulmonary Embolism, A clot in the lung.

PET scan (Positron emission tomography): This scan is normally done in children who have Hodgkin lymphoma. A very small amount of a radioactive substance is injected into the bloodstream, which can show up cancer cells on a scan. 

Peripheral blood stem cell harvest: Blood is drawn from a patient and passed through a cell separator. This collects stem cells to be stored for use later, and returns the rest of the blood back to the patient.

Pelvic: In medical terms this refers to the lower part of your abdomen, between your hips.

Peripheral neuropathy: Peripheral neuropathy is damage to your peripheral nerves. The damage is mainly in the nerves to the hands and feet.

Petechiae (Pet-a-shay): Bleeding from small blood vessels just beneath the skin surface. They appear when the platelet count is low.

PICC line: Peripherally inserted central catheter - A thin tube inserted into a vein in your arm that is guided all the way to a vein near your heart, called the vena cava. PICC lines are left in place for weeks or months and can be used to take blood samples and administer drugs and fluids.

Physiotherapist: A healthcare professional concerned about maximizing a patient’s function and movement.

Platelet: A type of blood cell that helps the blood to clot and prevent bleeding.

Pneumonia: Infection of the lung.

PO (Per oral): Medical abbreviation to indicate that a medicine is to be administered by mouth.

PRN: Medicines to take when required.

Prognosis: The expected outcome of a disease and its treatment. 

Progression: In medical terms this means that the cancer has spread.

Prophylactic: Treatment designed to prevent rather than treat a disease

Prosthesis: An artificial replacement of something – for example, a bone. 

Protocol: A treatment plan for how, when and what dose of treatment to give.

Psycho-oncology: This is a speciality concerned with the psychological aspects of cancer for patients and their families.

Pulmonary: To do with the lungs.

Pulmonary function tests: Tests that measure how well the lungs take in and breathe out air, and also how well they move oxygen into the bloodstream. Your child breathes through a mouthpiece connected to a special machine called a spirometer. 

Q

qd: Medical notation for once per day

qid: Medical notation for four times daily.

R

Radiotherapy: The use of high-energy X-rays to destroy cancer cells.

Red blood cell: Blood cells that carry oxygen around the body. The part that contains iron called haemoglobin gives blood its red colour.

Refractory: Resistant to treatment.

Relapse: The return of a disease after previous treatment or during treatment.

Remission: There is no evidence of the disease being present, using the available tests.

Renal: To do with the kidneys.

Resection: Surgery to remove tissue or part of an organ.

Response: In medical terms this refers to whether or not a cancer treatment is working, how well it is ‘responding’ to the treatment.

Respiratory: To do with the lungs and airways.

S

Sarcoma: A tumour that forms in bone, muscles, fat or cartilage cells.

SCC: Squamous cell carcinoma: Refers to cancer that arises from cells close to the surface of the epithelium (layer of cells lining the exterior of an organ, e.g skin).

Secondary cancer: Also known as metastases or mets, secondary cancers are cancerous growths at sites distant from the main tumour, that have resulted due to cancer cells migrating.

Side effect: A term commonly used to describe the effects a treatment has other than the effect it is intended to have.

Social worker: A healthcare professional concerned with the social needs of a patient.

Specialist: This term is commonly used to describe a doctor or nurse who works in the hospital setting and specialises in a certain area of the body or disease.

Speech and language therapist: A healthcare professional that is concerned with speech and language difficulties.

Spinal Cord Compression: A medical emergency when the spinal cord is compressed by a tumour. It requires swift diagnosis and treatment to prevent long-term disability.

Staging: The process of assessing the size of a tumour and whether or not it has spread from its original site.

Stem cell: Early, immature blood cell from which other blood cells are made.

Stereotactic radiotherapy: Stereotactic radiotherapy uses smaller radiation beams than standard radiotherapy. The beams are targeted at the tumour from several different angles which combine to give a high dose of radiation to the tumour.

Stoma: Stoma is a term commonly used to describe an opening, e.g. a colostomy, an ileostomy, a urostomy and a tracheostomy.

Stomatitis: Inflammation of the tissues in the mouth.

Subcutaneous (SC): Under the skin, also referred to as subcut.

Symptom: A sign that there is something wrong with a particular area of the body.

T

Therapy: Treatment.

Thorax: To do with the chest, the area of the body between the head and the abdomen.

Thrombocytopenia: Low levels of platelets in the blood leading to bruising and bleeding.

Toxicity: A word used to describe the undesirable side effects caused by a drug.

TPN: Total parenteral nutrition. Giving nutrients into a vein when a child is unable to take food in the normal way.

Travel2Care: Travel2Care is a fund which has been made available by the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) to help with the cost of travelling for cancer tests or treatment in designated cancer care centres or approved satellite centres. It is administered by the Irish Cancer Society.

Tumour: An excessive growth of cells resulting in an abnormal mass. A tumour may be either benign or cancerous.

Tumour lysis syndrome: A life-threatening emergency that can occur when a tumor breaks down very fast in response to treatment characterized by metabolic abnormalities.

Tumor marker: A substance sometimes found in an increased amount in the blood, other body fluids, or tissues and which may suggest the presence of some types of cancer. Also called biomarkers.

U

Ultrasound: A test that uses sound waves to check the tissues inside the body. 

Urinalysis: The process by which your urine is examined for various factors.

Urinary incontinence: Uncontrolled leaking of urine.

Urology: To do with urinary system, including the kidneys, bladder and prostate.

UVA: About 95% of the ultraviolet radiation that reaches the earth is UVA. Regular exposure to high doses of UVA can age your skin and cause skin cancer.

UVB: About 5% of radiation that reaches the earth’s surface is UVB. UVB penetrates into the epidermis. It is more dangerous to the skin and eyes than UVA. It burns your skin, causes skin cancer and eye damage. UVB is associated with the development of malignant melanoma.

V

Vaccines: A drug that causes the immune system to respond to an infection or tumour.

Varicella: Chicken pox, an infection caused by a virus. Children with cancer may have a special problem with this infection if they have not had it before.

Vein: A blood vessel that carries blood from the body back to the heart.

Viruses: Microscopic organisms that can cause  infections such as measles, mumps, chicken pox, and the common cold , COVID-19 .

W

White blood cells: Blood cells that defend the body against infection.

X

X-ray: An image that helps a doctor see the inside of the body.

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