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GIST Support International - Glossary of Terms
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Definition
adhesionAdhesions are an internal growth of scar tissue that may occur following abdominal surgery, sometimes causing pain or intestinal blockage. See linkhere
adjuvantIn the context of cancer drug therapy, adjuvant refers to drug therapy employed after the primary tumor has been surgically resected. With respect to Gleevec, there are clinical trials underway to evaluate "adjuvant Gleevec." In these trials patients are treated with Gleevec for a given time period (such as one or two years) after resection of the primary tumor, in order to determine whether this course of Gleevec will prevent later recurrence or metastasis after the drug is discontinued.
alleleAn allele is an alternative form of the same gene that occupies a particular locus (position) on a chromosome. Different alleles produce variation in inherited characteristics such as hair color or blood type Often one allele is "dominant" and the other is "recessive." The "dominant" allele will determine what trait is expressed. When one allele is lost the result is "loss of heterozygosity."
Ampulla of VaterThis is the opening of the ducts from the gall bladder and pancreas into the duodenum, also called the pancreaduodenal ampulla. It becomes important in GIST if this section of the duodenum must be removed, since then the patient would lose the digestive benefit of bile from the gallbladder and pancreatic enzyme secretions.
anastomosisThe surgical formation of a passageway between any two spaces or hollow organs in the body. For example, if a GIST patient had surgery performing a total gastrectomy, then the anastomosis would join the esophagus to the duodenum.
anemiaA condition in which there are not enough healthy red blood cells to deliver adequate oxygen to the body, usually measured by a decrease in the amount of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin Illustration: linkhere Some symptoms include weakness, pale skin, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, headache, numbness or coldness in extremities. There are several causes of anemia such as vitamin deficiency and kidney failure to name a few. Certain chronic diseases such as cancer can also cause anemia by interfering with the production of red blood cells. A hormone called erythropoietin, which is produced by the kidneys, stimulates bone marrow to produce red blood cells. With GIST, a shortage of this important hormone can be a side effect of chemotherapy such as Gleevec or Sutent. Treatment with injections of drugs such as Procrit or Aranesp can stimulate the bone marrow to produce the needed red blood cells.
aneuploidyAneuploidy is a state where abnormal numbers of specific chromosomes exist within the nucleus. Human somatic cells (other than egg or sperm) are diploid, having both maternally and paternally inherited copies of the basic chromosomes. Monosomy, as a kind of aneuploidy, is the loss of one copy of a chromosome from a cell nucleus. Trisomy is the presence of three copies of a particular chromosome, instead of the normal pair. Aneuploidy is common in cancerous cells with occurrence of either fewer or more than the correct two copies of a specific chromosome. Aneuploidy in cancer is due to the accumulation of mutations that cause instabilities and imbalances in the segregation of duplicated chromosomes into the each of the identical daughter cells formed during cell division.
angiogenesisThe process of development of new blood vessels. With respect to tumors, angiogenesis is required in order for the tumor to grow beyond a small size. Some anti-cancer drugs target angiogenesis.
antigenAn antigen is a molecule that is recognized by the immune system and stimulates the production of antibodies. Usually an antigen is a protein or polysaccharide, but it can be any type of molecule. The introduction of foreign (exogenous) antigens into the body can trigger an immune response. Endogenous antigens are antigens that have been generated within the cell as a result of normal cell metabolism or viral infection. Degradation fragments of endogenous antigens are presented on class I MHC molecules on the cell surface. Tumor antigens are endogenous antigens presented by class I MHC molecules on the surface of tumor cells. These antigens are sometimes presented exclusively by tumor cells and not normal cells. In this case, they are called tumor-specific antigens. Mutated proteins unique to the tumor cells are one type of tumor-specific antigen. More common are antigens that are highly correlated with tumor cells, but are also found to a lesser extent on normal cells. These are called tumor-associated antigens. Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes that recognize tumor antigens may be able to destroy the tumor cells.
anusThe posterior opening of the alimentary canal. The opening at the end of the digestive tract where stool leaves the body. The anus is formed partly from the surface layers of the body, including skin, and partly from the intestine. Anus Illustration: linkhere
apoptosisA genetically determined process of cell self-destruction, often described as "programmed cell death." In adults it is activated either by the presence of an abnormality or by the removal of a stimulus or suppressing agent. This is a normal physiological process eliminating DNA-damaged, superfluous or unwanted cells. Disruption of apoptosis may result in uncontrolled cell growth and tumor formation. Cancer cells evade apoptosis, thereby becoming immortal and proliferating out of control.
ascitesAbnormal accumulation of excess fluid in the space between the membranes lining the abdomen and abdominal organs (the peritoneal cavity).


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