Online Learning Center

Glossary of Terms

A – E  |  F – K  |  L – R  |  S – Z

Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)

An enzyme measured in the blood and used as a biomarker to measure the extent or spread of cancers.

Leukopenia

An abnormally low level of circulating white blood cells resulting in the inability to fight infections.

Local therapy

A therapy that is directed to specific and limited areas.

Localized disease

A cancer that is only present in a limited part of the body – for example, the neck or armpits.

Low-grade lymphoma

Lymphoma that grows slowly and has few symptoms.  Also called indolent lymphoma.

Lymph

The watery fluid in the lymph system that contains white blood cells (lymphocytes).

Lymph node

Small bean-shaped glands located in the small vessels of the lymphatic system. Thousands are located throughout the body with clusters of them in the neck, under the arms, the chest, abdomen and groin. Lymph nodes filter lymph fluid, trapping and destroying potentially harmful bacteria and viruses.

Lymphatic system

The channels, tissues and organs that store and carry lymphocytes that fight infection and other diseases.

Lymphocyte

A type of white blood cell.  Lymphocytes, carried along by the lymph fluid, are part of the immune system and fight infection.

Lymphoma

A cancer of lymphocytes involving lymph nodes, organs and tissues of the lymphatic system (immune system).  Hodgkin lymphoma is one type of lymphoma; the other major type if non-Hodgkin lymphoma.  Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is a non-Hodgkin lymphoma that starts in the skin.  There are approximately 61 types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Lymphomatoid Papulosis (LyP)

A lymphatic system disorder that manifests itself in self-healing nodules and papules ("bumps" and "spots") that come and go spontaneously. It looks like cancer under the microscope, but frequently and for no reason, it suddenly disappears of its own accord for weeks or months at a time before reactivating.

Malignant

Cancerous – a malignant tumor is a cancerous tumor.

Matrex®

A chemotherapy that is given as a treatment for some types of cancer. (Matrex® is a name brand of methotrexate.)

Mechlorethamine

A medication used topically to treat CTCL. Also known as topical nitrogen mustard.

Medical oncologist

A physician who specializes in the use of chemotherapy, hormone therapy and many other types of biologic therapies to treat cancer.

Memory cells

Types of B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes.  After a foreign invader or unwanted cell has been destroyed, surviving B- and T-lymphocytes develop into specialized memory cells that remain on watch and can provide protection if the invader is encountered in the future.

Metastasize

To spread to other organs of the body.  Cancer may spread from its primary site of orgin to other sites or organs.

Methotrexate

A chemotherapy that is given as a treatment for some types of cancer. (Matrex® is a name brand of methotrexate.)

Monoclonal antibodies

Antibodies that act specifically against a particular antigen.  Scientists can produce large amounts of an antibody that can be directed to a single target (or antigen) on the cell’s surface.  Monoclonal antibodies are used to classify lymphomas by identifying surface proteins on lymhocytes. Monoclonal antibodies are also used as therapeutic agents and have been developed to combat specific cancers including cutaneous T-cell lymphomas.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

MRI uses magnets and radio frequency waves to produce images of inside the body. MRIs can provide information about tissues and organs that is not available from other imaging techniques.

Mucositis

Inflammation of the lining of the tissues and organs.  In the mouth, it is characterized by sores or inflammation.

Mustargen

A medication used topically to treat CTCL. Also known as mechlorethamine.

Mycosis Fungoides (MF)

Term for the most common type of CTCL. It is typically a low-grade lymphoma which primarily affects the skin. Generally it has a slow course and often remains confined to the skin. Over time, in about 10% of the cases, it can progress to the lymph nodes and internal organs.

Myelosuppresion

A reduction in the bone marrow’s ability to make red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Neutropenia

An abnormally low level of neutrophils (the white blood cells responsible for fighting bacterial infections).

Neutrophils

The primary type of white blood cells found in the blood that fight bacteria.

Nitrogen Mustard (NM)

A medication used topically to treat CTCL. Also known as mechlorethamine.

Non-bulky tumor

A small tumor, usually less than five centimeters (approximately two inches).

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)

A group of several closely related cancers that arise from the lymphatic system.  Although the different types of NHL have some things in common, they differ in what the cancer cell looks like under a microscope, how the cells grow and how the tumor affects the body. CTCLs are a type of NHL.

Oncologist

A physician who specializes in treating cancer.  Some specialize in chemotherapy (medical oncologist), radiotherapy (radiation oncologist) or surgery (surgical oncologist).

Ontak®

A medication used in the treatment of CTCL.

Palliation

Treatment that is given to remove or relieve symptoms.

Partial Remission (PR)

The term used when a cancer has shrunk in size by at least half but has not totally disappeared.  The cancer can still be detected and other treatments may be recommended.

Pathologist

A physician who specializes in studying disease through microscopic evaluation of body tissues and organs (biopsy).  Any tissue suspected of being cancerous must first be examined by a pathologist to confirm the diagnosis.

PCR (Polymerase chain reaction)

A molecular test that can identify small amounts of genetic material.

Pentostatin

A medication used in the treatment of CTCL.