Terms and Definitions

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Important Terms in Precision Oncology

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Familiarizing yourself with the key terms and acronyms in precision oncology will make it easier to understand both the science behind this innovative approach and your options for cancer treatment. Whether you’re just starting to learn about precision oncology or already have a strong knowledge-base, this glossary can serve as a good basic foundation, a useful reminder, or a helpful page to share with friends and loved ones.

If you have questions about precision oncology or our services, connect with us today. You can also click on each term to see how it applies to our services at CTOAM.

Adjunct Therapies
Treatments that provide synergistic effects when combined with the standard treatment.
Read more about adjunct therapies

Adult Stem Cell
Undifferentiated cells, found in stem cell niches throughout the body, which function to replenish dying cells and regenerate damaged tissues.
Read more about adult stem cells

The amount of a nutraceutical or drug that reaches the blood circulation in its active form and its duration in the body.
Read more about bioavailability

Cancer Initiating Stem Cell
Cells that possess characteristics associated with normal stem cells and are responsible for initiating and sustaining the disease.
Read more about cancer initiating stem cells

In regards to cancer treatment, chemotherapy refers to the use of anti-cancer drugs to cure or counteract the effects of cancer. Specifically, it refers to the use of antineoplastic drugs (which can cause very unpleasant side effects) and the combination of these drugs into a cytotoxic standardized treatment regimen.
Read more about chemotherapy

Clinical trials
Studies conducted to gather information about adverse drug reactions, therapeutic doses, and efficacy of agents or therapies in order to get FDA and/or Health Canada approval.
Read more about clinical trials

The spread of a cancer from one organ or part of the body to another non-adjacent organ or part of the body.
Read more about metastasis

Food or food products that may or may not have any nutritional value but provide a medical benefit in the prevention and treatment of disease.
Read more about nutraceuticals

Oncogenes are normal genes that become mutated or over-express in cancer. They can be inherited or a result of environmental or lifestyle factors.
Read more about oncogenes

This refers to the unique state of a dormant stem cell, where the cell is neither dividing nor preparing to divide, yet still has high metabolic rates.
Read more about quiescence

Radiation Therapy
The use of ionizing radiation for medical purposes.
Read more about radiation therapy

Absence of disease activity in patients with a chronic disease.
Read more about remission

Standard Treatment
The treatment that is most commonly given in mainstream medicine to people with a specific medical condition. For example, in Canada the term ‘standard treatment’ refers to the usual treatment given via the public health care system. In standard cancer care, standard treatments are based on the location the cancer originated as opposed to the actual genetic factors driving cell proliferation.
Read more about standard treatment

Targeted Treatment
An individualized treatment determined by the genetic mutation(s) that are driving cancer cells to reproduce, rather than treatment based solely on the original location of cancerous tissue.
Read more about targeted treatment

Tumour Suppressor Gene
An anti-oncogene that normally protects cells from cancer and is typically mutated or deleted.
Read more about tumour suppressor gene

For a more comprehensive list of terminology related to cancer, please visit this page.

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