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Glossary


R

  • Radial Growth Stage - The earliest step in the development of melanoma. The disease is confined to the epidermis or barely has penetrated into the dermis layer of the skin. There has not yet been a cluster of melanoma cells formed, and there is no metastasis to other parts of the body.
  • Radiation Oncologist - A physician who specializes in treating cancer with radiation therapy.
  • Radiation Physicist - A scientist who helps plan complex radiation treatments for cancer and makes sure all treatment-planning calculations are performed correctly.
  • Radiation Therapist - A technician trained in setting up and administering external beam radiation treatments for cancer.
  • Radiation Therapy - The treatment of cancer with forms of energy, including x-rays and gamma rays; also called radiotherapy
  • Radioactive Tracer - A radioactive molecule that can be sent through the body's circulatory or urinary system, with its progress followed by a radiation-sensitive machine.
  • Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial - Research study in which patients are randomly assigned to a control group (receiving the standard treatment) or an intervention group (receiving the experimental treatment). Randomized, controlled trials are considered the most reliable and impartial method of determining the most-effective medical treatment.
  • Recombinant DNA Technology - Techniques used to take apart and recombine a cell's genetic information; now being investigated for use in melanoma vaccines.
  • Recombinant Viral Vaccines - Vaccines in which viruses are genetically altered through recombinant DNA technology. These viruses carry tumor-associated or other antigens to stimulate an immune response.
  • Recurrence - The reappearance of a cancer after a period of complete remission or following definitive surgical treatment of the primary melanoma.
  • Red Blood Cells - Also called erythrocytes. Red blood cells carry oxygen in their hemoglobin molecules.
  • Regional Lymph Nodes - Lymph nodes in the region of the primary tumor.
  • Regional perfusion therapy - Therapy in which a whole limb is infused with cancer- killing drugs. They are introduced into the artery supply of the limb and are taken out through the vein. This has been used in instances where multiple melanoma skin metastases are confined to the arm or leg site that was the site of the primary tumor.
  • Relapse - In cancer, it is the opposite of remission. The cancer has reappeared after a period of not being detected.
  • Relative Risk - This is a way of indicating how likely a person who has been exposed to a specific cancer-causing agent is to develop a cancer.
  • Remission - Complete or partial disappearance of a cancer, usually after treatment.
  • Resection - The surgical removal of an entire malignant tumor.
  • Response Rate - Represents the percentage of patients whose cancer shrinks or disappears after treatment.
  • Reticular Dermis - The lower part of the dermis, made up of dense connective tissue that gives skin its elasticity and strength.
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) Assay - A molecular biologic technique being investigated for its ability to detect tyronsinase, a possible tumor marker for melanoma.
  • Risk Factor - Anything that increases the chance of developing a disease, including cancer. Risk factors may include personal traits and habits, a family history of a disease or predisposing condition, and exposure to environmental agents.