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Glossary


C

  • Cancer - A general term for more than 100 different diseases that involve the uncontrolled growth and division of abnormal cells. These cells form collections called tumors that can destroy surrounding normal tissue and spread throughout the body.
  • Cancer Vaccines - Proteins containing cancer cells, parts of cells, or pure antigens, which are injected into the bloodstream. These proteins mark tumor cells so they are recognized and attacked by the immune system.
  • Carcinogen - Any substance that produces a cancer when introduced into the body.
  • Carmustine (BCNU) - A chemotherapy agent sometimes used to treat metastatic melanoma. It belongs to a class of chemotherapeutic agents called nitrosoureas.
  • CAT Scan (computed axial tomography) - See CT Scan
  • Cataract - Clouding of the lens of the eye or its surrounding membrane, which can cause distorted or impaired vision. The development of cataracts is associated with long-term overexposure, without appropriate protection, of the lens to ultraviolet radiation.
  • CBC - The complete blood count (CBC) is a blood test that measures the number of red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs), the total amount of hemoglobin in the blood, the fraction of the blood composed (hematrocrit), and the size of the red blood cells (MCV, mean corpuscular volume).
  • CD4 Cells - Another name for helper T-cells.
  • CD8 Cells - Another name for cytotoxic cells.
  • Cell - The basic building block of living tissue.
  • Chemotherapy - The introduction of chemicals/drugs into the body to eliminate cancer.
  • Cisplatin (cDDP) - A platinum compound sometimes used as a chemotherapeutic agent for metastatic melanoma.
  • Clark Level - A method of measuring how deeply the primary tumor has penetrated the skin based on anatomic layer. It was used for over 40 years to classify primary melanomas and to determine what treatments were appropriate. In 2009 the AJCC formally replaced the Clark Level with other measures that have now been found to be more informative. Because Clark Level was used for so long it will likely continue to be reported for sometime on pathology reports. Clark level is reported by roman numerals (i.e. I to V) with V being the deepest level of invasion.A level I melanoma is confined to the lower boundary of the epidermis and more commonly called melanoma in situ. Level II-IV melanomas describe different degrees of penetration or invasion into the dermis and fat layers below the skin. A level V melanoma has penetrated the subcutis, the fat layer beneath the skin.
  • Clinical Trial - An experimental treatment of cancer that tests new ideas and medications in an attempt to find better treatments and/or cures.
  • Collagen - A connective tissue protein in the dermis made by fibroblasts; it gives the skin its resilience and strength.
  • Colony-Stimulating Factors - A family of blood growth factors under study to determine their role in the immune response to melanoma.
  • Complement - A complex series of blood proteins whose action "complements" the work of antibodies. The activation of complement involves a precise sequence of events leading to the recognition and destruction of antigens.
  • Complete Response - Complete or partial disappearance of a cancer, usually after treatment.
  • Compound Nevi - Raised, uniformly pigmented moles with melanocytes in both the dermoepidermal junction and the dermis.
  • Congenital Nevi - Moles that are present at birth, or become apparent in early infancy; sometimes called birthmarks.
  • Control Group - In a clinical trial, the group of subjects assigned to receive the standard treatment. This group is compared with the group receiving the new treatment to determine which treatment is more effective.
  • CT Scan (computed tomography) - Also known as CAT Scan. A technique in which a rotating x-ray beam takes a series of pictures of the body from many angles. A computer combines the information from all these pictures and makes a detailed cross-sectional image of the body. A CT scan may be used to see if melanoma has spread to regional lymph nodes or distant sites in the body.
  • Cutaneous - Related to the skin.
  • Cutaneous Melanoma - Melanoma that starts in the skin.
  • CVD - A combination of cisplatin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine used in treating advanced melanoma.
  • Cytokines - Proteins produced naturally in the body which stimulate the activity of immune cells, including cytotxic T-cells. Forms of cytokines are in use as anticancer drugs, generally made by genetic engineering or recombinant DNA.
  • Cytotoxic T-Cells - A type of T-cell that kills cancer cells and virus-infected cells; also known as CD8 cells.