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Navigating Cancer Terminology

When you receive a cancer diagnosis, it can be daunting to keep up with the medical terms you hear. Read below to learn more about common cancer terms you’ll come across. This list does not cover everything, but your nurse navigator and cancer care team are able to answer any questions you may have.

Biopsy – a diagnostic procedure where a small sample of tissue is taken from the body to be examined for the presence of cancer cells.

Stage – the extent of the disease, including the size of the tumor and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. Staging the tumor helps your doctors determine the best treatment plan.

Tumor – an abnormal mass of tissue that can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Metastasis – occurs when cancer cells break away from their primary tumor and spread to other parts of the body.

Chemotherapy – the use of drugs to provide curative treatment, control cancer growth and ease cancer symptoms. To learn more about chemotherapy at Fairfield Medical Center, click here.

Radiation Therapy – a treatment that utilizes various forms of radiation to safely effectively treat all types of cancer and other diseases. FMC utilizes a new linear accelerator to provide faster and fewer treatments. Learn more here.

Immunotherapy – a new type of cancer treatment that uses one’s own immune system to treat cancer. Immunotherapy is typically well-tolerated.

Surgery – a common treatment for cancer that involves removing the tumor or other surrounding tissue. Surgery can be used in combination with other types of treatment.

Remission – a period where the signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared or are significantly reduced.

Palliative Care – different from hospice care, palliative care focuses on providing relief from symptoms and stress from treatment. Learn more about palliative care services at FMC here.

Survivorship – begins at diagnosis and continues throughout one’s life. Cancer and its treatment may have late or long-term effects, and recovery is not over when your cancer treatment ends. Read more about survivorship here.

The Cancer Services team at Fairfield Medical Center is always here to answer any questions you may have about your diagnosis or treatment. To learn more about Cancer Services at FMC, please call740-687-6900or visit