Glossary: A

abnormal (ab-NOR-mul)

Not normal. Describes a state, condition, or behavior that is unusual or different from what is considered normal. An abnormal lesion or growth in or on the body may be benign (not cancer), precancerous or premalignant (likely to become cancer), or malignant (cancer).

abscess (AB-ses)

An enclosed collection of pus in tissues, organs, or confined spaces in the body. An abscess is a sign of infection and is usually swollen and inflamed.

absolute risk (AB-soh-loot risk)

A measure of the risk of a certain event happening. In cancer research, it is the likelihood that a person who is free of a specific type of cancer at a given age will develop that cancer over a certain period of time. For example, a woman 35 years of age, with no known risk… Read more »

active surveillance (AK-tiv ser-VAY-lents)

Closely following a patient’s condition but not giving treatment unless there are changes in test results. Active surveillance may avoid or delay the need for radiation or surgery. It is used to find early signs that the condition is getting worse. During active surveillance, certain exams and tests, including biopsies, are done on a regular… Read more »

activities of daily living (ak-TIH-vih-teez…DAY-lee LIH-ving)

The tasks of everyday life. These activities include eating, dressing, getting into or out of a bed or chair, taking a bath or shower, and using the toilet. Instrumental activities of daily living are activities related to independent living and include preparing meals, managing money, shopping, doing housework, and using a telephone. Also called ADL.

acute (uh-KYOOT)

Symptoms or signs that begin and worsen quickly; not chronic.

adenoma (A-deh-NOH-muh)

A tumor that is not cancer. It starts in gland-like cells of the epithelial tissue (thin layer of tissue that covers organs, glands, and other structures within the body).