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Eating Hints: Glossary

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
 
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Eating Hints: Glossary

Eating Hints Table of Contents | Back to Cancer Center

These are the words that appear in bold print in Eating Hints . You also may hear members of your health team use them. Don't be afraid to ask your health care staff to explain any terms you don't understand.

Adjuvant treatment: Anticancer drugs or hormones given after surgery and/or radiation to help prevent the cancer from coming back.

Anorexia: Loss of appetite leading to severe weight loss.

Antiemetics: Drugs used to control nausea and vomiting.

Biological therapy (immunotherapy): Treatment to stimulate or restore the ability of the immune system to fight infection and disease. This treatment uses products from the body's natural defense system to destroy cancer cells.

Calorie: A measurement of the energy your body gets from food. Your body needs calories as "fuel" to perform all of its functions, such as breathing, circulating the blood, and physical activity. When you are sick, your body may need extra calories to fight fever or other problems.

Cells: The smallest units of tissues that make up any living thing. All cells have very specialized structures and functions and are able to reproduce.

Chemotherapy: The use of drugs to treat cancer.

Dehydration: When the body loses too much water to work well. Severe diarrhea or vomiting can cause dehydration.

Diet: The things you eat and drink, both liquids and solids.

Digestive tract: The parts of the body involved with eating, digesting, and excreting food. It includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines.

Diuretics: Drugs that help the body get rid of water and salt.

Dysphagia: Difficulty swallowing.

Edema: The buildup of excess fluid within the tissues, such as in ankles, legs, arms, abdomen.

Fiber: The part of plant foods that the body cannot digest. It helps to move food waste out of the body more quickly. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, dry beans and peas, nuts and seeds, and breads and cereals. Fiber is not found in animal foods (meat, milk, eggs).

Fluids: Things to drink; liquids.

Hormone therapy: The use of drugs that block hormones in the treatment of breast, prostate, and other cancers. This therapy is used to prevent recurrence.

Immunotherapy: See "biological therapy."

Infection: When germs enter the body and produce disease, the disease is called an infection. Infections can occur in any part of the body. They cause a fever and other problems, depending on the site of the infection. When the body's natural defense system is strong, it can often fight the entering germs and prevent infection. Cancer treatment can weaken the natural defense system, but healthy eating can help make it stronger.

Lactose: Lactose is a sugar found in milk and milk products.

Lactose intolerance: The inability to easily digest lactose. This may be inherited, or may occur after some types of surgery. Surgery-related lactose intolerance may go away over time. Many stores carry special milk products that do not contain lactose.

Minerals: Nutrients needed by the body in small amounts to help it function properly and stay strong. Iron, calcium, potassium, and sodium are minerals.

Nutrient: Chemical compounds (water, protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals) that make up foods. These compounds are used in different ways by the body, i.e., to grow, function and stay alive.

Nutrition: A three-part process that gives the body the nutrients it needs. First, you eat or drink food. Second, the body breaks the food down into nutrients. Third, the nutrients travel through the bloodstream to different parts of the body where they are used as "fuel" and for many other purposes. To give your body proper nutrition, you have to eat and drink enough of the foods that contain key nutrients.

Phytochemicals: A class of helpful chemical substances found in plants. Many of these chemicals are thought to reduce your risk of cancer.

Potassium: A mineral the body needs for fluid balance and other essential functions.

Protein: One of the three nutrients that supply calories to the body (the other two are fats and carbohydrates). The protein we eat becomes a part of our muscle, bones, skin, and blood.

Radiation therapy: Treatment with high-energy x-rays to treat diseases such as cancer. External radiation therapy is the use of a machine to aim high-energy x-rays at the cancer. Internal radiation therapy is the placement of radioactive material inside the body as close as possible to the cancer.

Registered dietitian: A health care professional with extensive scientific background in food, nutrition, biochemistry, and physiology. This knowledge is applied to promoting health, preventing disease, and providing counseling and education.

Sodium: A mineral required by the body to keep body fluids in balance. Sodium is found in table salt. Too much sodium can cause you to retain water.

Soft diet: A diet consisting of bland, lower fat foods that you soften by cooking, mashing, pureeing or blending.

Surgery: An operation.

Tissue: Groups or layers of cells that perform a specific function.

Total parenteral nutrition: When a person receives needed nutrients through a needle in a vein.

Vitamins: Key nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, and E, that the body needs in small amounts to grow and stay strong.

Source: 

Adapted from National Cancer Institute, 1/00



Last reviewed January 2000 by EBSCO Publishing Editorial Staff

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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