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Glossary


D

  • Dacarbazine (DTIC) - A chemotherapy agent administered intravenously to treat metastatic melanoma. Dacarbazine is the only chemotherapy agent currently approved for the treatment of advanced inoperable melanoma.
  • Dactinomycin - A chemotherapeutic agent used for the treatment of a number of cancers, occasionally including pediatric melanoma.
  • Dartmouth Regimen - A combination of dacarbazine, carmustine cisplatin, and the hormonal therapy drug tamoxifen, sometimes used in the treatment of advanced melanoma.
  • Dendritic Cell - A powerful and effective antigen-presenting cell (an immune cell) that is especially efficient at alerting resting helper T-cells to the presence of foreign tissue. Dendritic cells get their name from the Greek word dendron (tree) because the cell resembles a tree, with roots and branches spreading out from the main body of the cell.
  • Dendritic Cell Vaccines - Vaccines that use dendritic cells to carry and present tumor antigens to the immune system, activating an immune response.
  • Depression - A mental state characterized by sadness, hopelessness, difficulty thinking and concentrating, changes in eating and sleeping habits, and sometimes thoughts of suicide.
  • Dermatologist - A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin diseases.
  • Dermatopathologist - A pathologist who has special training in diagnosing disease based on the microscopic examination of skin samples called biopsies.
  • Dermis - The layer of skin directly beneath the epidermis. The dermis contains blood and lymph vessels, nerve endings, muscle fibers, oil and sweat glands, and hair follicles.
  • Dermoepidermal Junction - The lowest part of the epidermis where it meets the dermis. This is the area where melanocytes are located and melanomas usually develop.
  • Dermoscope - A special handheld microscope used in dermoscopy to view skin lesions.
  • Dermoscopy - A technique for viewing skin lesions that increases a physician's ability to distinguish more accurately between suspicious benign skin lesions. For some dermascopes, a drop of mineral oil is placed on the skin to reduce light reflection and make the skin more translucent. Using a dermoscope, the doctor can view the lesion down to the dermoepidermal junction, the area where melanomas usually develop. This area is not visible to the naked eye.
  • Desmoplastic Melanoma - Also known as spindle cell melanoma is a rare form of malignant melanoma marked by nonpigmented lesions on a sun-exposed areas of the body, most commonly on the head and neck.
  • Dietician - A professional who specializes in planning nutritious diets and the support of dietary changes associated with cancer or its treatment.
  • Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) - An examination of the prostate wherein a doctor inserts a gloved finger into the anus to evaluate the size of the prostate and feel for any lumps or abnormalities.
  • Distant Site - Once skin cancer spreads beyond the lymph nodes nearest the primary tumor, it has traveled to a "distant site." A distant site may be an internal organ, skin not near the primary tumor, or lymph nodes other than those closest to the primary tumor.
  • DNA - Abbreviation for deoxyribonucleic acid. It is a large molecule that carries genetic information and passes it from 1 generation of cells to the next.
  • Docetaxel - A chemotherapeutic agent that is under investigation for the treatment of metastatic melanoma. It belongs to a class of drugs called taxanes.
  • Dosimetrist - A member of the radiation treatment team who helps plan the proper radiation dose for the treatment of cancer.
  • Down and Back Skin Check - A systematic way to perform skin self-examination, starting at the top of the head and moving down the front of the body and up the back.
  • DTIC - See Dacarbazine
  • Dysplastic Nevi - Moles associated with an increased risk of melanoma. They are larger than ordinary moles and are usually flat but may have a raised part and indistinct or blurred borders with uneven coloration. Also known as atypical moles.
  • Dysplastic Nevus Syndrome (DNS) - A condition characterized by the presence of 100 or more moles on the upper trunk and limbs, at least 1 of which is dysplastic. The syndrome may be acquired or inherited. Individuals with DNS are at significantly increased risk of developing melanoma. It is also called the Atypical Nevus Syndrome (ANS).