Head and Neck Program

Glossary of Terms

Brachytherapy: A type of radiation treatment where metal seeds or capsules containing radioactive material are positioned in or near the cancer.

Cold Nodule: Thyroid cells absorb iodine which will appear on the X-ray film once radioactive iodine is given. If a nodule does not absorb iodine, it will appear "cold" on the X-ray film.

Concurrent chemoradiotherapy: Chemotherapy given during a course of radiation.

Dehydration: A condition resulting from excessive loss of body fluid.

Endocrinologist-: A physician who specializes in the hormone glands such as the thyroid gland.

External beam radiation: Radiation delivered from a machine outside the body.

Fine Needle Aspiration: A biopsy method; a needle is placed into an area several times and cells are aspirated into a syringe in order for a pathologist to examine.

Hot Nodule: A nodule, which is producing too much thyroid hormone, will show up darker on the X-ray film.

Inflammation: Tissue reaction to injury. The redness, heat and pain produced as a result of cancer treatments.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): A type of radiation treatment that in some cases spares normal tissues such as the salivary glands.

Larynx: The voice box which is located at the upper end of the trachea (windpipe).

Mucosa: Soft tissue that lines certain parts of the body such as the mouth and tongue.

Metastasis: The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another.

Nasogastric Tube: A tube inserted through the nose and extending into the stomach in order to administer nutrition supplements.

Nasopharynx: The upper portion of the nasal passage.

Oral Mucositis: Another term for mouth sores.

Oral Cavity: The front of the mouth.

Oropharynx: The back of the mouth and upper throat.

Neoadjuvant Therapy: The use of chemotherapy as the first line of therapy, administered before surgery or radiation.

PEG Tube: A soft rubber tube placed into the stomach wall where nutritional supplements can be delivered.

Secretions: Mucus or phlegm from the respiratory passages.

Speech Pathologist or Therapist: A specialist who evaluates and treats people with speech and swallowing problems.

Stoma: An opening in the windpipe made by a surgeon (also called a tracheotomy).

Thyroid Gland: Butterfly shaped gland located at the base of the throat. It produces hormones that regulate metabolism to help the body function normally.

Xerostomia: Dry mouth.