Glossary

The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: May 2, 2011

Bone marrow is a soft sponge-like material inside your bones. It contains the master cells (stem cells) that make up the blood cells that: help fight infection (white blood cells); carry oxygen through the body (red blood cells); and protect you from bleeding (platelets).

Computed tomography (CT) uses X-rays to make detailed pictures of structures inside of the body. It does this by creating cross-sectional pictures of the body.

Conventional radiation treatment is external radiation. External radiation (or external beam radiation) comes from a machine outside the body. The machine directs high-energy rays at the cancer and some normal surrounding tissue. It is the most often used radiation treatment. The machine used to deliver the high-energy rays is called a linear accelerator.

General anesthesia is the delivery of medicine to prevent the patient from feeling pain during radiation treatment. It is used to temporarily put the patient into a deep sleep so they don't feel pain. The patient is not aware of what is going on around them.

Intensity-modulated radiation treatment (IMRT) is a type of 3-D conformal radiation treatment that uses radiation beams (usually x-rays) of various intensities to give different doses of radiation, at the same time, to small areas of tissue. This allows the delivery of higher doses of radiation to the tumor and lower doses to nearby healthy tissue.

Line is short for intravenous line. It is a small tube placed in a vein and used to administer a fluid — such as medications, blood, or nutrients.

See all articles: Radiation Treatment: A Parent’s Guide

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