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Appendix A

Glossary of Terms

Terms in italics are defined within this glossary.

adenocarcinoma. A carcinoma derived from glandular tissue or in which the cells are arranged in the form of glands; a malignant adenoma.

age-standardized (adjusted) rate. A rate that has been calculated in a way that allows valid comparisons of populations with different age distributions. Appendix B has a more detailed explanation.

anaplasia. Reversion of cells to a more primitive or less differentiated form, a characteristic of malignant tumors; also called dedifferentiation.

anatomic site. The place, position or location within the anatomy or structure of the organism.

basal cell. The predominant cell of the deepest layer of the epidermis.

basement membrane. A sheet of extracellular material interposed between cellular elements and underlying connective tissue. The sheet acts as a filtration barrier and a boundary that helps to generate and maintain tissue structure.

benign. Not malignant or recurrent; favorable for recovery.

biopsy. The removal of tissue for microscopic examination performed to establish a diagnosis and the characteristics of the cancer.

cancer. A group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells; a cellular tumor exhibiting the characteristics of anaplasia and invasion and the potential for metastasis.

cancer (or tumor) registry. A data system designed for the collection, management, and analysis of data on persons with the diagnosis of a malignant disease (cancer).

carcinoma. A malignant tumor of epithelial origin.

case. An incidence of a primary site of a reportable cancer. One patient with two primary cancers represents two cases.

code. Alphabetic and/or numeric characters representing information in a data set or report.

confidence interval. A group of continuous or discrete adjacent values that is used to estimate a statistical parameter (as a mean or variance) and that tends to include the true value of the parameter a predetermined proportion of the time if the process of finding the group of values is repeated a number of times. Appendix B has a more detailed explanation.

diagnosis (pl. diagnoses). The identification of the presence, nature, and extent of a disease.

differentiation. The degree to which a tumor resembles the normal tissue from which it arose; also called grade. Differentiation reflects the aggressiveness of the tumor.

disseminated. Scattered; distributed over a considerable area; in registry terms, describes a tumor that has spread throughout the body.

distant. A term describing stage of disease for a malignant neoplasm that has spread to parts of the body remote from the primary tumor either by direct extension (beyond immediately adjacent organs or tissues) or by discontinuous metastasis (e.g., implantation or seeding) to distant organs, tissues, or via the lymphatic system to distant lymph nodes. Stage of disease for all leukemias and multiple myelomas is distant.

epidemiology. The science concerned with the study of the incidence, distribution, and control of disease in a population.

epithelium. The covering of internal and external surfaces of the body, vessel linings, and other cavities.

extent of disease. Detailed description of how far the disease has spread from the primary site of a cancer at the time of diagnosis.

histology. The study of the minute structure, composition, and function of the tissues. In a cancer diagnosis, histology describes the type, behavior, and differentiation (grade) of tumor cells.

ICD-O-2. International Classification of Diseases for Oncology, Second Edition, 1990.

incidence rate. The number of new cases of a disease occurring in a period of time divided by the number of persons at risk of getting the disease during that time. The result is frequently multiplied by a base number such as 1,000 or 100,000.

in situ. A term describing the behavior of a neoplasm which has all the characteristics of malignancy except invasion of neighboring tissues. It has not penetrated the basement membrane. A diagnosis of in situ behavior must be based on microscopic examination of tissue. Some synonyms are intraepithelial, noninvasive, and noninfiltrating.

intraepithelial. Situated among the cells of the epithelium; in situ.

invasion. The infiltration and active destruction of tissue below the basement membrane, a characteristic of a malignant growth. (adjective: invasive)

leukemia. A progressive, malignant disease of the blood-forming organs.

localized. A term describing stage of disease for an invasive malignant neoplasm that is confined entirely to the organ of origin.

lymphoma. Any neoplastic disorder of the lymphoid tissue. The term is often used alone to denote malignant lymphoma.

malignant. The tendency of a disease to become progressively worse and to result in death; having the properties of anaplasia, invasion, and the potential for metastasis; said of tumors.

malignant melanoma. A malignant neoplasm of melanin-pigmented cells (melanocytes), usually developing from a nevus and consisting of black masses of cells with a marked tendency to metastasize.

malignant tumor. An uncontrolled, invasive growth capable of metastasizing (spreading to a distant part of the body). The opposite of benign tumor.

metastasis. 1. The transfer or spread of disease from the original site to another site not directly connected to it; the formation of new foci of the disease. 2. A focus of the cancer cells in a site noncontiguous with the site of origin. (verb: metastasize. to spread, pl. metastases.)

metastatic. Pertaining to the transfer (spread) of disease; spread to organs other than those listed in the regional areas; spread to other areas of the body; or spread to lymph nodes other than regional lymph nodes.

microscopic confirmation. The microscopic examination of tissue or cells removed from the site of a suspected cancer for the purpose of verifying a malignancy.

morphology. The science concerned with the forms and structure of organisms; the form and structure of a particular organism, organ, or part.

multiple myeloma. A primary malignant neoplasm of plasma cells usually arising in the bone marrow and associated with skeletal destruction resulting in pathological fractures and bone pain.

NCI. National Cancer Institute.

neoplasm. Any new and abnormal growth, such as a tumor.

NOS. Not otherwise specified.

organ of origin. Primary site of cancer.

precancerous. Pertaining to a condition that tends to become malignant.

primary site. The organ or tissue where a cancer originates.

primary site code. A three digit code designated for the specific anatomic site of the primary cancer.

rate. An expression of the frequency with which an event (e.g., death or disease) occurs in a defined population.

regional. A term describing stage of disease for a malignant neoplasm that 1) has extended beyond the limits of the organ of origin directly into surrounding organs or tissues, 2) involves regional lymph nodes by way of the lymphatic system, or 3) has both regional extension and involvement of regional lymph nodes, with no evidence of distant spread.

reportable list. A list developed by a cancer registry that identifies all diagnoses and types of cases that are to be included in the registry and those that are to be excluded.

sarcoma. A malignant tumor of mesodermal origin. The mesoderm is the embryonic germ layer from which the supporting structures of the body (bone, muscle, connective tissue) are derived.

secondary site. The organ to which a malignant neoplasm has spread from a primary site; metastatic site.

SEER. Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program of the National Cancer Institute.

site. The place, position or location; for cancer, the anatomic site where the malignancy occurs. See also primary site and secondary site.

squamous cell. A flat, scale-like epithelial cell.

stage, stage of disease. A broad category which groups cases with similar prognoses based on how far the disease has spread from the site of origin at the time of diagnosis; e.g., in situ, localized, regional, or distant; or stage I, II, III, IV.

tumor. A swelling or mass; a new growth of tissue in which the multiplication of cells is uncontrolled and progressive; also called neoplasm. A tumor can be either benign or malignant.

tumor registry. See cancer registry.

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