Palliative care: Holistic care of people who have a life-limiting illness, their families and carer. It aims to improve quality of life by addressing physical, emotional, spiritual, social and physical needs. It is NOT just for people who are about to die although end-of-life care is a part of palliative care.
Palliative care nurse: Nurse with special training in easing of cancer-related symptoms. Palliative care nurses work with a team in the hospital and can also visit the patient at home.
Palliative treatment: Medical treatment for people with advanced cancer to help them manage pain and other physical and emotional symptoms of cancer. Treatment may include radiotherapy, chemotherapy or other medication.
PET scan: Positron Emission Tomography. Technique used to build up clear and detailed cross-sectional pictures of the body involving the injection of small amounts of radioactive material, which show up areas of fast cell growth.
Physiotherapist: Health care professional who specialises in physical therapy and who can help you manage pain, incontinence, lymphoedema and other symptoms. A physiotherapist can also help you recover from operations and work on your physical mobility.
Placebo: A dummy pill or injection, which looks like the new treatment being tested but contains no active ingredient.
Port-a-cath: Small medical appliance that is installed beneath the skin. A catheter connects the port to a vein. Through the port-a-cath drugs can be injected and blood samples can be drawn many times, usually with less discomfort for the patient than a more typical “needle stick”.
Primary cancer: Original cancer. Cells from the primary cancer may break away and be carried to other parts of the body, where secondary cancer forms.
Prognosis: Likely outcome of a person’s disease.
Prostate specific antigen (PSA): Protein produced by prostate cells. It can be used to test for prostate cancer or to monitor its recurrence.
Psychologists: Mental health workers who can help you with any emotional issues including relationship or family issues, ways of dealing with anxiety and depression, for you, your family and caregivers.
Quality of life: Measure of your comfort and satisfaction, based on how well your individual physical, emotional, spiritual, sexual, social and financial needs are being met within limitation of your illness. How cancer and its treatment affects a person’s day-to-day functioning.
Radiation enteritis: Swelling (inflammation) of the lining of the small intestine due to radiation therapy.
Radiation oncologist: doctor who specialises in treating cancer with radiotherapy.
Radiation therapist: Health professional who administers radiotherapy.
Radiotherapy: Use of radiation, usually x-rays or gamma rays, to kill cancer cells or injure them so they cannot grow or multiply.
Randomised controlled trial: Trial in which participants are randomly allocated to receive the new treatment or the standard treatment (the control)
Recurrent cancer: Cancer that grows from cells of a primary cancer that have evaded treatment.
Relapse: The return of a disease after a period of improvement.
Respite care: Alternative care arrangements which allow the carer and person with cancer a short break from their usual care arrangements.
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Life, Hope & Reality was developed and written by Afaf Girgis, Claire Johnson, and Sylvie Lambert with funding from the NHMRC and Cancer Council NSW.
Last updated 30 August 2015