Cancer Term Glossary

N-acetyl-L-cysteine
A drug usually used to reduce the thickness of mucus and ease its removal. It is also used to reverse the toxicity of high doses of acetaminophen. Also called acetylcysteine and N-acetylcysteine.
N-acetylcysteine
A drug usually used to reduce the thickness of mucus and ease its removal. It is also used to reverse the toxicity of high doses of acetaminophen. Also called acetylcysteine and N-acetyl-L-cysteine.
N-acetyldinaline
A substance that is being studied as an anticancer drug in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. Also called CI-994.
N-benzoyl-staurosporine(...BEN-zoyl-STAW-ruh-SPOR-een)
A substance that is being studied in the treatment of leukemia. It belongs to the family of drugs called protein kinase inhibitors. Also called midostaurin and PKC412.
N-butyl-N-(4-hydroxybutyl) nitrosamine
A substance that is used in cancer research to cause bladder tumors in laboratory animals. This is done to test new diets, drugs, and procedures for use in cancer prevention and treatment.
NaCl
Chemical abbreviation for sodium chloride (table salt).
naloxone
A substance that is being studied as a treatment for constipation caused by narcotic medications. It belongs to the family of drugs called narcotic antagonists.
naltrexone(nal-TREK-sone)
A drug that blocks the action of opiates (drugs used to treat pain). It may be used in the treatment of intravenous opiate addiction or alcohol dependence. Naltrexone is also being studied in the treatment of breast cancer. It may block the effects of the hormone estrogen, which causes some breast cancer cells to grow, or block the blood flow to tumors. It is a type of opiate antagonist. Also called naltrexone hydrochloride, ReVia, and Vivitrol.
naltrexone hydrochloride(nal-TREK-sone HY-droh-KLOR-ide)
A drug that blocks the action of opiates (drugs used to treat pain). It may be used in the treatment of intravenous opiate addiction or alcohol dependence. Naltrexone hydrochloride is also being studied in the treatment of breast cancer. It may block the effects of the hormone estrogen, which causes some breast cancer cells to grow, or block the blood flow to tumors. It is a type of opiate antagonist. Also called naltrexone, ReVia, and Vivitrol.
Namenda(nuh-MEN-duh)
A drug used to treat dementia caused by Alzheimer disease. It is also being studied in the treatment of side effects from whole-brain radiation therapy for cancer and other conditions. Namenda blocks the uptake of calcium by certain brain cells and decreases their activity. It is a type of N-methyl-D-asparatate (NMDA) receptor antagonist. Also called memantine hydrochloride.
nanogram
A measure of weight. One nanogram weighs a billion times less than one gram, and almost a trillion-times less than a pound.
nanometer(NA-noh-MEE-ter)
A measure of length in the metric system. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. An average human hair is about 60,000 nanometers thick. Nanometers are used to measure wavelengths of light and distances between atoms in molecules.
nanomole(NAH-noh-mole)
The amount of a substance equal to a billionth of a mole (a measure of the amount of a substance). Also called nM.
nanoparticle(NA-noh-PAR-tih-kul)
A particle of that is smaller than 100 nanometers (one-billionth of a meter). In medicine, nanoparticles can be used to carry antibodies, drugs, imaging agents, or other substances to certain parts of the body. Nanoparticles are being studied in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.
nanoparticle paclitaxel(NAH-no-PAR-tih-kil PAK-lih-TAK-sil)
A drug used to treat breast cancer that has spread or that has come back within 6 months after chemotherapy. It is also being studied in the treatment of newly diagnosed breast cancer and other types of cancer. Nanoparticle paclitaxel is a type of mitotic inhibitor. Also called ABI-007, Abraxane, paclitaxel albumin-stabilized nanoparticle formulation, and protein-bound paclitaxel.
nanoprobe(NA-noh-probe)
A device that uses x-rays instead of visible light to form images of very small structures, such as the insides of blood vessels and cells. It can be used to study processes such as angiogenesis (growth of blood vessels). The term nanoprobe is also used to describe very small particles that can be used in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.
nanotechnology(NA-noh-tek-NAH-luh-jee)
The field of research that deals with the engineering and creation of things from materials that are less than 100 nanometers (one-billionth of a meter) in size, especially single atoms or molecules. Nanotechnology is being studied in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.
Naprosyn(NA-proh-sin)
A drug used to treat mild pain and the symptoms of arthritis and several other conditions. It is also being studied in the treatment of bone pain in patients with cancer. Naprosyn stops the body from making substances that cause pain and inflammation. It is a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and a type of cyclooxygenase inhibitor. Also called naproxen.
naproxen(nuh-PROK-sen)
A drug used to treat mild pain and the symptoms of arthritis and several other conditions. It is also being studied in the treatment of bone pain in patients with cancer. Naproxen stops the body from making substances that cause pain and inflammation. It is a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and a type of cyclooxygenase inhibitor. Also called Naprosyn.
narcotic(nar-KAH-tik)
A substance used to treat moderate to severe pain. Narcotics are like opiates such as morphine and codeine, but are not made from opium. They bind to opioid receptors in the central nervous system. Narcotics are now called opioids.
Naropin(nah-ROH-pin)
A drug used to control pain and to cause a temporary loss of feeling in one part of the body, during and after surgery. It is also being studied for pain control after cancer surgery. It is a type of local anesthetic. Also called ropivacaine and ropivacaine hydrochloride.
nasal(NAY-zul)
By or having to do with the nose.
nasogastric(nay-zoh-GAS-trik)
Describes the passage from the nose to the stomach. For example, a nasogastric tube is inserted through the nose, down the throat and esophagus, and into the stomach.
nasogastric tube(nay-zoh-GAS-trik toob)
A tube that is inserted through the nose, down the throat and esophagus, and into the stomach. It can be used to give drugs, liquids, and liquid food, or used to remove substances from the stomach. Giving food through a nasogastric tube is a type of enteral nutrition. Also called gastric feeding tube and NG tube.
Nasonex(NAY-zoh-nex)
A drug that is used in a cream to treat certain skin conditions and in a nasal spray to treat sinus problems caused by allergies. It is being studied as a way to treat inflammation of the skin caused by radiation therapy. Nasonex is a type of corticosteroid. Also called Elocon, mometasone, and mometasone furoate.
nasopharyngeal cancer(NAY-zoh-fuh-RIN-jee-ul KAN-ser)
Cancer that forms in tissues of the nasopharynx (upper part of the throat behind the nose). Most nasopharyngeal cancers are squamous cell carcinomas (cancer that begins in flat cells lining the nasopharynx).
nasopharynx(NAY-zoh-fayr-inx)
The upper part of the throat behind the nose. An opening on each side of the nasopharynx leads into the ear.
nasoscope(NAY-zoh-skope)
A thin tube-like instrument used to examine the inside of the nose. A nasoscope has a light and a lens for viewing and may have a tool to remove tissue. Also called rhinoscope.
nasoscopy(nay-ZOS-koh-pee)
Examination of the inside of the nose using a nasoscope (or rhinoscope). A nasoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease. Also called rhinoscopy.
National Cancer Institute
The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, is the Federal Government's principal agency for cancer research. The National Cancer Institute conducts, coordinates, and funds cancer research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer. Access the National Cancer Institute Web site at http://www.cancer.gov. Also called NCI.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine(NA-shuh-nul SEN-ter ... KOM-pleh-MEN-tuh-ree ... all-TER-nuh-tiv MEH-dih-sin)
A federal agency that uses science to explore complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices, trains CAM researchers, and provides authoritative information about CAM to professionals and the public. NCCAM awards grants for research projects, training, and career development in CAM; sponsors conferences, educational programs, and exhibits; studies ways to use proven CAM practices along with conventional medical practice; and supports adding CAM to medical, dental, and nursing school programs. NCCAM is part of the National Institutes of Health. Also called NCCAM.
National Institutes of Health
A federal agency in the U.S. that conducts biomedical research in its own laboratories; supports the research of non-Federal scientists in universities, medical schools, hospitals, and research institutions throughout the country and abroad; helps in the training of research investigators; and fosters communication of medical information. Access the National Institutes of Health Web site at http://www.nih.gov. Also called NIH.
natural history study(NA-chuh-rul hih-STOR-ee STUH-dee)
A study that follows a group of people over time who have, or are at risk of developing, a specific medical condition or disease. A natural history study collects health information in order to understand how the medical condition or disease develops and how to treat it.
natural killer cell(NA-chuh-rul KIH-ler sel)
A type of immune cell that has granules (small particles) with enzymes that can kill tumor cells or cells infected with a virus. A natural killer cell is a type of white blood cell. Also called NK cell and NK-LGL.
natural killer-cell large granular lymphocyte leukemia(NA-chuh-rul KIH-ler sel larj GRAN-yoo-lur-LIM-foh-site loo-KEE-mee-uh)
A type of leukemia in which large natural killer (NK) cells (a type of white blood cell) that contain granules (small particles) are found in the blood. It is a chronic disease that may last for a long time and get worse. Also called NK-LGL leukemia and NK-LGLL.
naturopathy(nay-chuh-RAH-puh-thee)
A system of disease prevention and treatment that avoids drugs and surgery. Naturopathy is based on the use of natural agents such as air, water, light, heat, and massage to help the body heal itself. It also uses herbal products, nutrition, acupuncture, and aromatherapy as forms of treatment.
nausea
A feeling of sickness or discomfort in the stomach that may come with an urge to vomit. Nausea is a side effect of some types of cancer therapy.
NB1011
A substance that is being studied for its ability to make cancer cells respond to drugs to which they have become resistant. It is a type of nucleoside analog.
NBI-3001
A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is made by combining interleukin-4 with a bacterial toxin. NBI-3001 is a type of recombinant chimeric protein. Also called interleukin-4 PE38KDEL cytotoxin and interleukin-4 PE38KDEL immunotoxin.
NCCAM
A federal agency that uses science to explore complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices, trains CAM researchers, and provides authoritative information about CAM to professionals and the public. NCCAM awards grants for research projects, training, and career development in CAM; sponsors conferences, educational programs, and exhibits; studies ways to use proven CAM practices along with conventional medical practice; and supports adding CAM to medical, dental, and nursing school programs. NCCAM is part of the National Institutes of Health. Also called National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
NCI
NCI, part of the National Institutes of Health of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, is the Federal Government's principal agency for cancer research. It conducts, coordinates, and funds cancer research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer. Access the NCI Web site at http://www.cancer.gov. Also called National Cancer Institute.
NCI clinical trials cooperative group(…koh-OP-uh-ruh-tiv GROOP)
A group of researchers, cancer centers, and community doctors who are involved in studies of new cancer treatment, prevention, early detection, quality of life, and rehabilitation. Clinical trials carried out by cooperative groups are sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and large numbers of patients take part in many locations. Examples include the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG), and Children’s Oncology Group (COG).
NCX 4016
A substance being studied in the prevention of colorectal cancer. It is a form of aspirin that gives off nitric oxide gas and is less irritating to the lining of the stomach than plain aspirin. It is a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Also called nitric oxide-releasing acetylsalicylic acid derivative.
NDGA
A drug put on the skin to treat growths caused by sun exposure. A form of NDGA that is taken by mouth is being studied in the treatment of prostate cancer. NDGA is an antioxidant, and it may block certain enzymes needed for tumor growth. Also called Actinex, masoprocol, and nordihydroguaiaretic acid.
NDV
Newcastle disease virus. A bird virus that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It may be used to kill cancer cells directly, or it may be given as a cancer vaccine to stimulate the body’s immune system. NDV is a type of biological response modifier and vaccine therapy. Also called Newcastle disease virus.
nebulizer
A device used to turn liquid into a fine spray.
neck dissection(dye-SEK-shun)
Surgery to remove lymph nodes and other tissues in the neck.
necrosis(ne-KRO-sis)
Refers to the death of living tissues.
needle biopsy(NEE-dul BY-op-see)
The removal of tissue or fluid with a needle for examination under a microscope. When a wide needle is used, the procedure is called a core biopsy. When a thin needle is used, the procedure is called a fine-needle aspiration biopsy.
needle localization(NEE-dul LOH-kuh-lih-ZAY-shun)
A procedure used to mark a small area of abnormal tissue so it can be removed by surgery. An imaging device is used to guide a thin wire with a hook at the end through a hollow needle to place the wire in or around the abnormal area. Once the wire is in the right place, the needle is removed and the wire is left in place so the doctor will know where the abnormal tissue is. The wire is removed when a biopsy is done. Also called needle/wire localization and wire localization.
needle-localized biopsy(NEE-dul LOH-kuh-lized BY-op-see)
A procedure to mark and remove abnormal tissue when the doctor cannot feel a lump. An imaging device is used to guide a thin wire with a hook on the end through a hollow needle to place the wire in or around the abnormal area. Once the wire is in the right place, the needle is removed and the wire is left in so the doctor will know where the abnormal tissue is. The wire is removed at the time the biopsy is done.
needle/wire localization(NEE-dul … LOH-kuh-lih-ZAY-shun)
A procedure used to mark a small area of abnormal tissue so it can be removed by surgery. An imaging device is used to guide a thin wire with a hook at the end through a hollow needle to place the wire in or around the abnormal area. Once the wire is in the right place, the needle is removed and the wire is left in place so the doctor will know where the abnormal tissue is. The wire is removed when a biopsy is done. Also called needle localization and wire localization.
needling(NEE-dul-ing)
In acupuncture, the insertion of a thin needle into a specific place on the body to unlock qi (vital energy). The needle may be twirled, moved up and down at different speeds and depths, heated, or charged with a low electric current.
nefazodone(nef-AY-zoh-done)
A drug used to treat depression. It belongs to the family of drugs called antidepressant agents. Also called Serzone.
negative axillary lymph node(NEH-guh-tiv AK-sih-LAYR-ee limf ...)
A lymph node in the armpit that is free of cancer.
negative predictive value
The likelihood that an individual with a negative test result is truly unaffected and/or does not have the particular gene mutation in question. Also called NPV.
negative test result(NEH-guh-tiv ... reh-ZULT)
A test result that does not show the specific disease, condition, or biomarker for which the test is being done.
nelarabine(neh-LA-ruh-been)
A drug used to treat certain types of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) and T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma (T-LBL). It belongs to the family of drugs called antimetabolites. Also called 506U78 and Arranon.
nelfinavir mesylate
A drug that interferes with the ability of a virus to make copies of itself.
neoadjuvant therapy(NEE-oh-A-joo-vant THAYR-uh-pee)
Treatment given as a first step to shrink a tumor before the main treatment, which is usually surgery, is given. Examples of neoadjuvant therapy include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy. It is a type of induction therapy.
neoplasia(NEE-oh-PLAY-zhuh)
Abnormal and uncontrolled cell growth.
neoplasm(NEE-oh-PLA-zum)
An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Neoplasms may be benign (not cancer), or malignant (cancer). Also called tumor.
neoplastic meningitis(NEE-oh-PLAS-tik MEH-nin-JY-tis)
A serious problem that may occur in cancer in which cancer cells spread from the original (primary) tumor to the meninges (thin layers of tissue that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord). It can happen in many types of cancer, but is the most common in melanoma, breast, lung, and gastrointestinal cancer. The cancer may cause the meninges to be inflamed. Also called carcinomatous meningitis, leptomeningeal cancer, leptomeningeal carcinoma, leptomeningeal metastasis, meningeal carcinomatosis, and meningeal metastasis.
nephrectomy(neh-FREK-toh-mee)
Surgery to remove a kidney or part of a kidney. In a partial nephrectomy, part of one kidney or a tumor is removed, but not an entire kidney. In a simple nephrectomy, one kidney is removed. In a radical nephrectomy, an entire kidney, nearby adrenal gland and lymph nodes, and other surrounding tissue are removed. In a bilateral nephrectomy, both kidneys are removed.
nephrologist(neh-FRAH-loh-jist)
A doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating kidney disease.
nephrostomy(neh-FROS-toh-mee)
Surgery to make an opening from the outside of the body to the renal pelvis (part of the kidney that collects urine). This may be done to drain urine from a blocked kidney or blocked ureter into a bag outside the body. It may also be done to look at the kidney using an endoscope (thin, lighted tube attached to a camera), to place anticancer drugs directly into the kidney, or to remove kidney stones.
nephrotomogram(nef-ro-TOE-mo-gram)
A series of x-rays of the kidneys. The x-rays are taken from different angles and show the kidneys clearly, without the shadows of the organs around them.
nephrotoxic(NEH-froh-TOK-sik)
Poisonous or damaging to the kidney.
nephroureterectomy(NEF-roh-YER-eh-ter-EK-toh-mee)
Surgery to remove a kidney and its ureter. Also called ureteronephrectomy.
nerve
A bundle of fibers that receives and sends messages between the body and the brain. The messages are sent by chemical and electrical changes in the cells that make up the nerves.
nerve block
A procedure in which medicine is injected directly into or around a nerve or into the spine to block pain.
nerve cell
A type of cell that receives and sends messages from the body to the brain and back to the body. The messages are sent by a weak electrical current. Also called neuron.
nerve grafting
Replacing a damaged nerve with a section of a healthy nerve that has been removed from another part of the body. This procedure is being studied in the prevention of erectile dysfunction in men having surgery for prostate cancer.
nerve growth factor(nurv grohth FAK-ter)
A protein made by the body that causes certain nerve cells to grow and helps keep them alive.
nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy(... RA-dih-kul PROS-tuh-TEK-toh-mee)
Surgery to remove the prostate in which an attempt is made to save the nerves that help cause penile erections.
nerve-sparing surgery(SER-juh-ree)
A type of surgery that attempts to save the nerves near the tissues being removed.
nervous system(NER-vus SIS-tem)
The organized network of nerve tissue in the body. It includes the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), the peripheral nervous system (nerves that extend from the spinal cord to the rest of the body), and other nerve tissue.
Neulasta(noo-LA-stuh)
A drug used to increase numbers of white blood cells in patients who are receiving chemotherapy. It is a type of colony-stimulating factor. Also called filgrastim-SD/01 and pegfilgrastim.
Neumega(noo-MEH-guh)
A drug used to increase the number of blood cells, especially platelets, in some cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Neumega is a form of interleukin-11 (a cytokine normally made by support cells in the bone marrow) that is made in the laboratory. It is a type of biological response modifier. Also called oprelvekin, recombinant human interleukin-11, and rhIL-11.
neural
Having to do with nerves or the nervous system, including the brain and the spinal cord.
neuro-oncologist(NOOR-oh-on-KAH-loh-jist)
A doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating brain tumors and other tumors of the nervous system.
neurobehavioral(NOOR-oh-bih-HAY-vyer-ul)
Having to do with the way the brain affects emotion, behavior, and learning. Some cancers or their treatment may cause neurobehavioral problems.
neuroblastoma(NOOR-oh-blas-TOH-muh)
Cancer that arises in immature nerve cells and affects mostly infants and children.
neurocognitive(NOOR-oh-KOG-nih-tiv)
Having to do with the ability to think and reason. This includes the ability to concentrate, remember things, process information, learn, speak, and understand.
neuroectodermal tumor(NOOR-oh-EK-toh-DER-mul TOO-mer)
A tumor of the central or peripheral nervous system.
neuroendocrine(NOOR-oh-EN-doh-krin)
Having to do with the interactions between the nervous system and the endocrine system. Neuroendocrine describes certain cells that release hormones into the blood in response to stimulation of the nervous system.
neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin(NOOR-oh-EN-doh-krin KAR-sih-NOH-muh …)
A rare type of cancer that forms on or just beneath the skin, usually in parts of the body that have been exposed to the sun. It is most common in older people and in people with weakened immune systems. Also called Merkel cell cancer, Merkel cell carcinoma, and trabecular cancer.
neuroendocrine tumor(NOOR-oh-EN-doh-krin TOO-mer)
A tumor that forms from cells that release hormones in response to a signal from the nervous system. Some examples of neuroendocrine tumors are carcinoid tumors, islet cell tumors, medullary thyroid carcinomas, pheochromocytomas, and neuroendocrine carcinomas of the skin (Merkel cell cancer). These tumors may secrete higher-than-normal amounts of hormones, which can cause many different symptoms.
neuroepithelial(NOOR-oh-eh-pih-THEE-lee-ul)
Having to do with tissue made up of sensory cells, such as tissue found in the ear, nose, and tongue.
neurofeedback(NOOR-oh-FEED-bak)
A treatment being studied to improve brain function in certain brain disorders and in patients treated with chemotherapy for breast cancer. Sensors are placed on a person’s head, which allows brain activity to be shown as patterns on a computer screen. A beep or a tone may be used as a reward to a person for changing certain brain activities. Neurofeedback may help cancer patients deal with the stress and mental side effects of chemotherapy. Also called EEG biofeedback.
neurofibroma(NOOR-oh-fy-BROH-muh)
A benign tumor that develops from the cells and tissues that cover nerves.
neurofibromatosis type 1(NOOR-oh-FY-broh-muh-TOH-sis tipe 1)
A rare genetic condition that causes brown spots and tumors on the skin, freckling in skin areas not exposed to the sun, tumors on the nerves, and developmental changes in the nervous system, muscles, bone, and skin. Also called NF1.
neurofibromatosis type 2(NOOR-oh-FY-broh-muh-TOH-sis tipe 2)
A genetic condition in which tumors form on the nerves of the inner ear and cause loss of hearing and balance. Tumors may also occur in the brain and on nerves in the skull and spinal cord, and may cause loss of speech, eye movement, and the ability to swallow. Also called acoustic neurofibromatosis and NF2.
neuroglia(noor-OH-glee-uh)
Any of the cells that hold nerve cells in place and help them work the way they should. The types of neuroglia include oligodendrocytes, astrocytes, microglia, and ependymal cells. Also called glial cell.
neuroleptic agent(NOOR-oh-lep-tik AY-jent)
A type of drug used to treat symptoms of psychosis. These include hallucinations (sights, sounds, smells, tastes, or touches that a person believes to be real but are not real), delusions (false beliefs), and dementia (loss of the ability to think, remember, learn, make decisions, and solve problems). Most neuroleptic agents block the action of certain chemicals in the nervous system. Also called antipsychotic and antipsychotic agent.
neuroleptic malignant syndrome(NOOR-oh-LEP-tik muh-LIG-nunt SIN-drome)
A life-threatening condition that may be caused by certain drugs used to treat mental illness, nausea, or vomiting. Symptoms include high fever, sweating, unstable blood pressure, confusion, and stiffness. Also called NMS.
neurologic(NOOR-oh-LAH-jik)
Having to do with nerves or the nervous system.
neurological exam(NOOR-oh-LAH-jih-kul eg-ZAM)
A series of questions and tests to check brain, spinal cord, and nerve function. The exam checks a person’s mental status, coordination, ability to walk, and how well the muscles, sensory systems, and deep tendon reflexes work.
neurologist(noo-RAH-loh-jist)
A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the nervous system.
neuroma(NOOR-oh-ma)
A tumor that arises in nerve cells.
neuron(NOOR-on)
A type of cell that receives and sends messages from the body to the brain and back to the body. The messages are sent by a weak electrical current. Also called nerve cell.
neuropathologist(NOOR-oh-puh-THAH-loh-jist)
A pathologist who specializes in diseases of the nervous system. A pathologist identifies disease by studying cells and tissues under a microscope.
neuropathy(noo-ROP-uh-thee)
A nerve problem that causes pain, numbness, tingling, swelling, or muscle weakness in different parts of the body. It usually begins in the hands or feet and gets worse over time. Neuropathy may be caused by physical injury, infection, toxic substances, disease (such as cancer, diabetes, kidney failure, or malnutrition), or drugs, including anticancer drugs. Also called peripheral neuropathy.
neuropeptide(NOOR-oh-PEP-tide)
A member of a class of protein-like molecules made in the brain. Neuropeptides consist of short chains of amino acids, with some functioning as neurotransmitters and some functioning as hormones.
neuropsychology(NOOR-oh-sy-KAH-loh-jee)
The study of how the brain and central nervous system are related to behavior.
neuroradiologist(NOOR-oh-RAY-dee-AH-loh-jist)
A doctor trained in radiology who specializes in creating and interpreting pictures of the nervous system. The pictures are produced using forms of radiation, such as x-rays, sound waves, or other types of energy.
neurosurgeon(NOO-ro-SER-jun)
A doctor who specializes in surgery on the brain, spine, and other parts of the nervous system.
neurotoxicity(NOOR-oh-tok-SIH-sih-tee)
The tendency of some treatments to cause damage to the nervous system.
neurotoxin(NOOR-oh-TOK-sin)
A substance that is poisonous to nerve tissue.
neurotransmitter(NOOR-oh-tranz-MIH-ter)
A chemical that is made by nerve cells and used to communicate with other cells, including other nerve cells and muscle cells.
neurotropism(NOOR-oh-TROH-pih-zum)
An ability to invade and live in neural tissue. This term is usually used to describe the ability of viruses to infect nerve tissue.
neutropenia(noo-troh-PEE-nee-uh)
A condition in which there is a lower-than-normal number of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell).
neutrophil(NOO-tro-fil)
A type of immune cell that is one of the first cell types to travel to the site of an infection. Neutrophils help fight infection by ingesting microorganisms and releasing enzymes that kill the microorganisms. A neutrophil is a type of white blood cell, a type of granulocyte, and a type of phagocyte.
nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome(NEE-voyd BAY-sul SEL KAR-sih-NOH-muh SIN-drome)
A genetic condition that causes unusual facial features and disorders of the skin, bones, nervous system, eyes, and endocrine glands. People with this syndrome have a higher risk of basal cell carcinoma. Also called basal cell nevus syndrome and Gorlin syndrome.
nevus(NEE-vus)
A benign (not cancer) growth on the skin that is formed by a cluster of melanocytes (cells that make a substance called melanin, which gives color to skin and eyes). A nevus is usually dark and may be raised from the skin. Also called mole.
new mutation
An alteration in a gene that is present for the first time in one family member as a result of a mutation in a germ cell (egg or sperm) of one of the parents, or a mutation that arises in the fertilized egg itself during early embryogenesis. Also called de novo mutation.
Newcastle disease virus(NOO-ka-sul dih-ZEEZ VY-rus)
A bird virus that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It may be used to kill cancer cells directly, or it may be given as a cancer vaccine to stimulate the body’s immune system. Newcastle disease virus is a type of biological response modifier and vaccine therapy. Also called NDV.
Nexavar(NEK-suh-var)
A drug used to treat advanced kidney cancer and a type of liver cancer that cannot be removed by surgery. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Nexavar stops cells from dividing and may prevent the growth of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow. It is a type of kinase inhibitor and a type of antiangiogenesis agent. Also called BAY 43-9006, sorafenib, and sorafenib tosylate.
Nexium(NEK-see-um)
A drug that blocks acid from being made in the stomach. It is used to treat acid reflux disease and to prevent certain types of gastrointestinal ulcers. Nexium is being studied in the prevention of esophageal cancer and in the treatment of other conditions, including side effects of chemotherapy. It is a type of anti-ulcer agent. Also called esomeprazole and esomeprazole magnesium.
NF1
A rare genetic condition that causes brown spots and tumors on the skin, freckling in skin areas not exposed to the sun, tumors on the nerves, and developmental changes in the nervous system, muscles, bone, and skin. Also called neurofibromatosis type 1.
NF2
A genetic condition in which tumors form on the nerves of the inner ear and cause loss of hearing and balance. Tumors may also occur in the brain and on nerves in the skull and spinal cord, and may cause loss of speech, eye movement, and the ability to swallow. Also called acoustic neurofibromatosis and neurofibromatosis type 2.
NG tube(…toob)
A tube that is inserted through the nose, down the throat and esophagus, and into the stomach. It can be used to give drugs, liquids, and liquid food, or used to remove substances from the stomach. Giving food through an NG tube is a type of enteral nutrition. Also called gastric feeding tube and nasogastric tube.
NG-monomethyl-L-arginine
An amino acid derivative used to counteract high blood pressure caused by interleukin-2.
NGR-TNF
A substance being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is made by linking tumor necrosis factor (TNF) to a peptide. The peptide binds to tumor blood vessels, and TNF damages them. It is a type of biological response modifier. Also called tumor vasculature–targeted tumor necrosis factor alpha.
NHL
Any of a large group of cancers of lymphocytes (white blood cells). NHLs can occur at any age and are often marked by lymph nodes that are larger than normal, fever, and weight loss. There are many different types of NHL. These types can be divided into aggressive (fast-growing) and indolent (slow-growing) types, and they can be formed from either B-cells or T-cells. B-cell NHLs include Burkitt lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, immunoblastic large cell lymphoma, precursor B-lymphoblastic lymphoma, and mantle cell lymphoma. T-cell NHLs include mycosis fungoides, anaplastic large cell lymphoma, and precursor T-lymphoblastic lymphoma. Lymphomas that occur after bone marrow or stem cell transplantation are usually B-cell NHLs. Prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and type of disease. Also called non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
niacin(NY-uh-sin)
A nutrient in the vitamin B complex that the body needs in small amounts to function and stay healthy. Niacin helps some enzymes work properly and helps skin, nerves, and the digestive tract stay healthy. Niacin is found in many plant and animal products. It is water-soluble (can dissolve in water) and must be taken in every day. Not enough niacin can cause a disease called pellagra (a condition marked by skin, nerve, and digestive disorders). A form of niacin is being studied in the prevention of skin and other types of cancer. Niacin may help to lower blood cholesterol. Also called nicotinic acid and vitamin B3.
niacinamide(NY-uh-SIH-nuh-MIDE)
A nutrient in the vitamin B complex that the body needs in small amounts to function and stay healthy. Niacinamide helps some enzymes make energy in the cell. It is found in many plant and animal products. It is water-soluble (can dissolve in water) and must be taken in daily. It is being studied to increase the effect of radiation therapy on tumor cells. Also called nicotinamide.
nicotinamide(NIH-koh-TIH-nuh-MIDE)
A nutrient in the vitamin B complex that the body needs in small amounts to function and stay healthy. Nicotinamide helps some enzymes make energy in the cell. It is found in many plant and animal products. It is water-soluble (can dissolve in water) and must be taken in daily. It is being studied to increase the effect of radiation therapy on tumor cells. Also called niacinamide.
nicotine(NIH-kuh-TEEN)
An addictive, poisonous chemical found in tobacco. It can also be made in the laboratory. When it enters the body, nicotine causes an increased heart rate and use of oxygen by the heart, and a sense of well-being and relaxation. It is also used as an insecticide.
nicotine gum(NIH-kuh-TEEN…)
A chewing gum that contains a small dose of nicotine, which enters the blood by being absorbed through the lining of the mouth. This helps stop nicotine cravings and relieves symptoms that occur when a person is trying to quit smoking. A prescription is not needed for nicotine gum.
nicotine inhaler(NIH-kuh-TEEN in-HAY-ler)
A device used to inhale (breathe in) small doses of nicotine through the mouth. The nicotine is absorbed through the lining of the mouth and goes into the blood. This helps stop nicotine cravings, and relieves symptoms that occur when a person is trying to quit smoking. A prescription is needed for nicotine inhalers.
nicotine lozenge(NIH-kuh-TEEN LAH-zinj)
A hard candy-like tablet that contains a small dose of nicotine. The nicotine is absorbed through the lining of the mouth and goes into the blood. This helps stop nicotine cravings, and relieves symptoms that occur when a person is trying to quit smoking. A prescription is not needed for nicotine lozenges.
nicotine nasal spray(NIH-kuh-TEEN NAY-zul…)
A nose spray that contains a small dose of nicotine, which enters the blood by being absorbed through the lining of the nose. This helps stop nicotine cravings and relieves symptoms that occur when a person is trying to quit smoking. A prescription is needed for nicotine nasal spray.
nicotine patch(NIH-kuh-TEEN...)
A patch that sticks on the skin and contains a small dose of nicotine, which enters the blood by being absorbed through the skin. This helps stop nicotine cravings and relieves symptoms that occur when a person is trying to quit smoking. A prescription is not needed for nicotine patches.
nicotine replacement therapy(NIH-kuh-TEEN rih-PLAYS-munt THAYR-uh-pee)
A type of treatment that uses special products to give small, steady doses of nicotine to help stop cravings and relieve symptoms that occur when a person is trying to quit smoking. These products include nicotine gum, nicotine inhaler, nicotine nasal spray, nicotine lozenges, and nicotine patch. They do not contain any of the other chemicals found in tobacco products.
nicotinic acid(NIH-kuh-TIH-nik A-sid)
A nutrient in the vitamin B complex that the body needs in small amounts to function and stay healthy. Nicotinic acid helps some enzymes work properly and helps skin, nerves, and the digestive tract stay healthy. Nicotinic acid is found in many plant and animal products. It is water-soluble (can dissolve in water) and must be taken in every day. Not enough nicotinic acid can cause a disease called pellagra (a condition marked by skin, nerve, and digestive disorders). A form of nicotinic acid is being studied in the prevention of skin and other types of cancer. Nicotinic acid may help to lower blood cholesterol. Also called niacin and vitamin B3.
NIH
A federal agency in the U.S. that conducts biomedical research in its own laboratories; supports the research of non-Federal scientists in universities, medical schools, hospitals, and research institutions throughout the country and abroad; helps in the training of research investigators; and fosters communication of medical information. Access the NIH Web site at http://www.nih.gov. Also called National Institutes of Health.
nilotinib(ny-LOH-tih-nib)
A drug used to treat certain types of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). It is used in patients who have not gotten better after treatment with other anticancer drugs or who are not able to take imatinib mesylate. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Nilotinib blocks a protein called BCR/ABL which is made in CML cells that contain the Philadelphia chromosome (an abnormal chromosome 22 that has part of chromosome 9 attached). It is a type of tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Also called Tasigna.
nilutamide(ny-LOO-tuh-mide)
A drug that blocks the effects of male hormones in the body. It is a type of antiandrogen.
nimodipine
Belongs to a family of drugs called calcium channel blockers. It is being investigated for use with anticancer drugs to prevent or overcome drug resistance and improve response to chemotherapy.
nimotuzumab(ny-moh-TOO-zoo-mab)
A monoclonal antibody being studied in the treatment of some types of cancer. Monoclonal antibodies are made in the laboratory and can locate and bind to substances in the body, including cancer cells. Nimotuzumab binds the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and blocks cancer cells that depend on epidermal growth factor for growth. Also called Theraloc.
nimustine(NY-mus-tine)
A substance that is being studied in the treatment of brain cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called nitrosoureas.
Nipent(NY-pent)
The active ingredient in a drug that is used to treat hairy cell leukemia and is being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Nipent blocks a protein needed for cell growth and may kill cancer cells. It is made by a bacterium. It is a type of adenosine deaminase inhibitor. Also called pentostatin.
nipple
In anatomy, the small raised area in the center of the breast through which milk can flow to the outside.
nipple discharge(NIH-pul DIS-charj)
Fluid that is not milk coming from the nipple.
nitric acid(NY-trik A-sid)
A toxic, corrosive, colorless liquid used to make fertilizers, dyes, explosives, and other chemicals.
nitric oxide-releasing acetylsalicylic acid derivative(NY-trik OK-side... a-SEE-til-SA-lih-SIH-lik A-sid dih-RIH-vuh-tiv)
A substance being studied in the prevention of colorectal cancer. It is a form of aspirin that gives off nitric oxide gas and is less irritating to the lining of the stomach than plain aspirin. It is a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Also called NCX 4016.
nitrocamptothecin
An alkaloid drug belonging to a class of anticancer agents called topoisomerase inhibitors.
nitroglycerin(NY-troh-GLIH-seh-rin)
In medicine, a substance used as a drug to treat certain heart conditions and to widen the openings in blood vessels. Nitroglycerin is being studied as a way to help chemotherapy work better by making tumor cells more sensitive to the drugs. It is a type of vasodilator.
nitrosamine(ny-TROH-suh-meen)
A type of chemical found in tobacco products and tobacco smoke. Nitrosamines are also found in many foods, including fish, beer, fried foods, and meats. Some nitrosamines cause cancer in laboratory animals and may increase the risk of certain types of cancer in humans.
nitrosourea(nye-TRO-so-yoo-REE-ah)
An anticancer drug that can cross the blood-brain barrier. Carmustine and lomustine are nitrosoureas.
NK cell
A type of immune cell that has granules (small particles) with enzymes that can kill tumor cells or cells infected with a virus. An NK cell is a type of white blood cell. Also called natural killer cell and NK-LGL.
NK-LGL
A type of immune cell that has granules (small particles) with enzymes that can kill tumor cells or cells infected with a virus. An NK-LGL is a type of white blood cell. Also called natural killer cell and NK cell.
NK-LGL leukemia(... loo-KEE-mee-uh)
A type of leukemia in which large natural killer (NK) cells (a type of white blood cell) that contain granules (small particles) are found in the blood. It is a chronic disease that may last for a long time and get worse. Also called natural killer-cell large granular lymphocyte leukemia and NK-LGLL.
NK-LGLL
A type of leukemia in which large natural killer (NK) cells (a type of white blood cell) that contain granules (small particles) are found in the blood. It is a chronic disease that may last for a long time and get worse. Also called natural killer-cell large granular lymphocyte leukemia and NK-LGL leukemia.
NLPHL
A rare type of Hodgkin lymphoma, which is a cancer of the immune system. It is marked by the presence of a type of cell called a popcorn cell, which is different from the typical Reed-Sternberg cell found in classical Hodgkin lymphoma. This type of Hodgkin lymphoma may change into diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Also called nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma.
nM
The amount of a substance equal to a billionth of a mole (a measure of the amount of a substance). Also called nanomole.
NMRI
A procedure in which radio waves and a powerful magnet linked to a computer is used to create detailed pictures of areas inside the body. These pictures can show the difference between normal and diseased tissue. NMRI makes better images of organs and soft tissue than other scanning techniques, such as computed tomography (CT) or x-ray. NMRI is especially useful for imaging the brain, the spine, the soft tissue of joints, and the inside of bones. Also called magnetic resonance imaging, MRI, and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging.
NMS
A life-threatening condition that may be caused by certain drugs used to treat mental illness, nausea, or vomiting. Symptoms include high fever, sweating, unstable blood pressure, confusion, and stiffness. Also called neuroleptic malignant syndrome.
node-negative
Cancer that has not spread to the lymph nodes.
node-positive(... PAH-zih-tiv)
Cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes.
nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma(NAH-juh-ler LIM-foh-site preh-DAH-mih-nunt HOJ-kin lim-FOH-muh)
A rare type of Hodgkin lymphoma, which is a cancer of the immune system. It is marked by the presence of a type of cell called a popcorn cell, which is different from the typical Reed-Sternberg cell found in classical Hodgkin lymphoma. This type of Hodgkin lymphoma may change into diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Also called NLPHL.
nodular parenchyma(NAH-juh-ler puh-REN-kih-muh)
A small mass of tissue within a gland or organ that carries out the specialized functions of the gland or organ.
nodule(NOD-yool)
A growth or lump that may be malignant (cancer) or benign (not cancer).
nolatrexed
A substance that is being studied in the treatment of liver cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called thymidylate synthase inhibitors. Also called AG337 and Thymitaq.
Nolvadex(NOL-vuh-dex)
A drug used to treat certain types of breast cancer in women and men. It is also used to prevent breast cancer in women who have had ductal carcinoma in situ (abnormal cells in the ducts of the breast) and are at a high risk of developing breast cancer. Nolvadex is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. It blocks the effects of the hormone estrogen in the breast. Nolvadex is a type of antiestrogen. Also called tamoxifen and tamoxifen citrate.
nomogram(NAH-moh-GRAM)
A mathematical device or model that shows relationships between things. For example, a nomogram of height and weight measurements can be used to find the surface area of a person, without doing the math, to determine the right dose of chemotherapy. Nomograms of patient and disease characteristics can help predict the outcome of some kinds of cancer.
non-Hodgkin lymphoma(non-HOJ-kin lim-FOH-muh)
Any of a large group of cancers of lymphocytes (white blood cells). Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur at any age and are often marked by lymph nodes that are larger than normal, fever, and weight loss. There are many different types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. These types can be divided into aggressive (fast-growing) and indolent (slow-growing) types, and they can be formed from either B-cells or T-cells. B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas include Burkitt lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, immunoblastic large cell lymphoma, precursor B-lymphoblastic lymphoma, and mantle cell lymphoma. T-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas include mycosis fungoides, anaplastic large cell lymphoma, and precursor T-lymphoblastic lymphoma. Lymphomas that occur after bone marrow or stem cell transplantation are usually B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and type of disease. Also called NHL.
non-small cell lung cancer
A group of lung cancers that are named for the kinds of cells found in the cancer and how the cells look under a microscope. The three main types of non-small cell lung cancer are squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common kind of lung cancer.
nonblinded(non-BLINE-ded)
Describes a clinical trial or other experiment in which the researchers know what treatments are being given to each study subject or experimental group. If human subjects are involved, they know what treatments they are receiving.
noncarrier
An individual who does not carry a mutation previously identified in his or her family.
nonconsecutive case series(non-kun-SEH-kyoo-tiv KAYS SEER-eez)
A clinical study that includes some, but not all, of the eligible patients identified by the researchers during the study registration period. This type of study does not usually have a control group.
noncontiguous lymphoma(non-kun-TIG-yoo-us lim-FOH-muh)
Lymphoma in which the lymph nodes containing cancer are not next to each other, but are on the same side of the diaphragm (the thin muscle below the lungs that helps breathing and separates the chest from the abdomen).
nonfunctioning tumor(non-FUNK-shuh-ning TOO-mer)
A tumor that is found in endocrine tissue but that does not make extra hormones (chemicals that travel in the blood and control the actions of other cells or organs). Also called endocrine-inactive tumor.
nonhematologic cancer(non-HEE-muh-tuh-LAH-jik KAN-ser)
Cancer that does not begin in the blood or bone marrow.
noni
Morinda citrifolia. A tropical shrub. An extract from the fruit is being studied as a treatment for cancer, and extracts from the fruit, leaves, or roots have been used in some cultures to treat other diseases. Also called Morinda citrifolia.
noninvasive(NON-in-VAY-siv)
In medicine, it describes a procedure that does not require inserting an instrument through the skin or into a body opening. In cancer, it describes disease that has not spread outside the tissue in which it began.
nonlytic
In biology, refers to viruses that do not kill infected cells by disrupting their plasma membranes.
nonmalignant(non-muh-LIG-nunt)
Not cancerous. Nonmalignant tumors may grow larger but do not spread to other parts of the body. Also called benign.
nonmalignant hematologic disorder(non-muh-LIG-nunt HEE-muh-tuh-LAH-jik dis-OR-der)
A disorder of the blood. Some nonmalignant hematologic disorders may lead to leukemia.
nonmelanoma carcinoma in situ(non-MEH-luh-NOH-muh KAR-sih-NOH-muh in SY-too)
Abnormal cells are found in the squamous cell or basal cell layer of the epidermis (outer layer of skin). These abnormal cells may become cancer and spread into nearby normal tissue. Also called stage 0 nonmelanoma skin carcinoma in situ.
nonmelanoma skin cancer(... non-MEH-luh-NOH-muh skin KAN-ser)
Skin cancer that forms in basal cells or squamous cells but not in melanocytes (pigment-producing cells of the skin).
nonmelanomatous
Having to do with skin cancer that develops in basal cells or squamous cells but not in melanocytes (pigment-producing cells of the skin).
nonmetastatic(non-meh-tuh-STA-tik)
Cancer that has not spread from the primary site (place where it started) to other places in the body.
nonopioid
A drug that is not an opioid. Examples include acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as aspirin and ibuprofen.
nonpenetrance
The state in which a genetic trait, although present in the appropriate genotype, fails to manifest itself in the phenotype (e.g., a woman with a BRCA1 mutation who lives to be elderly and never develops breast or ovarian cancer).
nonprescription
A medicine that can be bought without a prescription (doctor's order). Examples include analgesics (pain relievers) such as aspirin and acetaminophen. Also called OTC and over-the-counter.
nonrandomized clinical trial
A clinical trial in which the participants are not assigned by chance to different treatment groups. Participants may choose which group they want to be in, or they may be assigned to the groups by the researchers.
nonseminoma(NON-seh-mih-NOH-muh)
A group of testicular cancers that begin in the germ cells (cells that give rise to sperm). Nonseminomas are identified by the type of cell in which they begin and include embryonal carcinoma, teratoma, choriocarcinoma, and yolk sac carcinoma.
nonspecific immune cell(non-speh-SIH-fik ih-MYOON SEL)
A cell (such as a phagocyte or a macrophage) that responds to many antigens, not just one antigen.
nonstarchy vegetable(non-STAR-chee VEJ-tuh-bul)
A member of the family of vegetables that does not contain starch (sugar molecules joined chemically). Nonstarchy vegetables are usually lower in sugar and higher in fiber than starchy vegetables. Examples are broccoli, carrots, celery, peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini.
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug(NON-steh-ROY-dul AN-tee-in-FLA-muh-TOR-ee ...)
A drug that decreases fever, swelling, pain, and redness. Also called NSAID.
nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitor(NON-steh-ROY-dul uh-ROH-muh-tayz in-HIH-bih-ter)
A drug that decreases the production of sex hormones (estrogen or testosterone) and slows the growth of tumors that need sex hormones to grow.
nontoxic(non-TOK-sik)
Not harmful or destructive.
noradrenaline(NOR-uh-dreh-nuh-lin)
A chemical made by some nerve cells and in the adrenal gland. It can act as both a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger used by nerve cells) and a hormone (a chemical that travels in the blood and controls the actions of other cells or organs). Noradrenaline is released from the adrenal gland in response to stress and low blood pressure. Also called norepinephrine.
nordihydroguaiaretic acid(NOR-dy-HY-droh-GWY-uh-reh-tik A-sid)
A drug put on the skin to treat growths caused by sun exposure. A form of nordihydroguaiaretic acid that is taken by mouth is being studied in the treatment of prostate cancer. Nordihydroguaiaretic acid is an antioxidant, and it may block certain enzymes needed for tumor growth. Also called Actinex, masoprocol, and NDGA.
norepinephrine(NOR-ep-ih-NEF-rin)
A chemical made by some nerve cells and in the adrenal gland. It can act as both a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger used by nerve cells) and a hormone (a chemical that travels in the blood and controls the actions of other cells or organs). Norepinephrine is released from the adrenal gland in response to stress and low blood pressure. Also called noradrenaline.
normal range(NOR-mul RAYNJ)
In medicine, a set of values that a doctor uses to interpret a patient’s test results. The normal range for a given test is based on test results for 95% of the healthy population. Sometimes patients whose test results are outside of the normal range may be healthy, and some patients whose test results are within the normal range may have a health problem. The normal range for a test may be different for different groups of people (for example, men and women). Also called reference interval, reference range, and reference values.
Norvir(NOR-vir)
A drug used to treat infection with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). It is also being studied in the treatment of some types of cancer. Norvir blocks the ability of HIV to make copies of itself and may block the growth of cancer cells. It is a type of anti-HIV agent and a type of protease inhibitor. Also called ritonavir.
notary public(NOH-tuh-ree PUH-blik)
A person who has a license that gives them the legal power to witness the signing of documents, to certify that documents are real, and to take statements made under oath.
Novantrone
A drug used to treat advanced prostate cancer that does not respond to hormones, adult acute nonlymphocytic leukemia, and advanced or chronic multiple sclerosis. It is also being studied in the treatment of other cancers. It belongs to the family of drugs called antitumor antibiotics. Also called mitoxantrone.
novel mutation
A newly discovered, distinct gene alteration; NOT the same as new or de novo mutation.
novobiocin
An antibiotic drug used to treat infection.
NP
A registered nurse who has additional education and training in how to diagnose and treat disease. NPs are licensed at the state level and certified by national nursing organizations. In cancer care, an NP may manage the primary care of patients and their families, based on a practice agreement with a doctor. Also called advanced practice nurse, APN, and nurse practitioner.
Nplate(EN-playt)
A drug used to treat patients with immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) who do not get better with other forms of treatment. In ITP, platelets (cells that cause blood clots to form) are destroyed by the immune system. Nplate is being studied as a way to treat low platelet counts caused by chemotherapy. It binds to the thrombopoietin receptor and causes the bone marrow to make more platelets. Nplate is also being studied in the treatment of myelodysplastic syndromes (a group of diseases in which the bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells). It is a type of thrombopoietin agonist. Also called AMG 531 and romiplostim.
NPO
A Latin abbreviation for “nothing by mouth.”
NPV
Negative predictive value. The likelihood that an individual with a negative test result is truly unaffected and/or does not have the particular gene mutation in question. Also called negative predictive value.
NR-LU-10 antigen(... AN-tih-jen)
A protein found on the surface of some cancers.
NSAID
A drug that decreases fever, swelling, pain, and redness. Also called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
NSC 655649
A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to the families of drugs called antitumor antibiotics and topoisomerase inhibitors. Also called rebeccamycin analog.
nuclear grade
An evaluation of the size and shape of the nucleus in tumor cells and the percentage of tumor cells that are in the process of dividing or growing. Cancers with low nuclear grade grow and spread less quickly than cancers with high nuclear grade.
nuclear magnetic resonance imaging(NOO-klee-er mag-NEH-tik REH-zuh-nunts IH-muh-jing)
A procedure in which radio waves and a powerful magnet linked to a computer is used to create detailed pictures of areas inside the body. These pictures can show the difference between normal and diseased tissue. Nuclear magnetic resonance imaging makes better images of organs and soft tissue than other scanning techniques, such as computed tomography (CT) or x-ray. Nuclear magnetic resonance imaging is especially useful for imaging the brain, the spine, the soft tissue of joints, and the inside of bones. Also called magnetic resonance imaging, MRI, and NMRI.
nuclear medicine scan(NOO-klee-er MEH-dih-sin SKAN)
A method of diagnostic imaging that uses very small amounts of radioactive material. The patient is injected with a liquid that contains the radioactive substance, which collects in the part of the body to be imaged. Sophisticated instruments detect the radioactive substance in the body and process that information into an image.
nucleotide(NOO-klee-oh-TIDE)
A building block for nucleic acids (the molecules inside cells that carry genetic information). Nucleotides are attached end-to-end to form the nucleic acids DNA and RNA.
nucleus(NOO-klee-us)
In biology, the structure in a cell that contains the chromosomes. The nucleus has a membrane around it, and is where RNA is made from the DNA in the chromosomes.
null allele
A mutation that results in either no gene product or the absence of function at the phenotypic level.
nurse
A health professional trained to care for people who are ill or disabled.
nurse practitioner(… prak-TIH-shuh-ner)
A registered nurse who has additional education and training in how to diagnose and treat disease. Nurse practitioners are licensed at the state level and certified by national nursing organizations. In cancer care, a nurse practitioner may manage the primary care of patients and their families, based on a practice agreement with a doctor. Also called advanced practice nurse, APN, and NP.
nursing home
A place that gives care to people who have physical or mental disabilities and need help with activities of daily living (such as taking a bath, getting dressed, and going to the bathroom) but do not need to be in the hospital.
nutraceutical
A food or dietary supplement that is believed to provide health benefits.
nutrient(NOO-tree-ent)
A chemical compound (such as protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamin, or mineral) contained in foods. These compounds are used by the body to function and grow.
nutrigenomics
The study of the interaction of dietary and genetic factors and its effect on metabolism, health status, and risk of disease.
nutrition(noo-TRIH-shun)
The taking in and use of food and other nourishing material by the body. Nutrition is a 3-part process. First, food or drink is consumed. Second, the body breaks down the food or drink 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 the body proper nutrition, a person has to eat and drink enough of the foods that contain key nutrients.
nutrition therapy(noo-TRIH-shun THAYR-uh-pee)
Treatment based on nutrition. It includes checking a person’s nutrition status, and giving the right foods or nutrients to treat conditions such as those caused by diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. It may involve simple changes in a person’s diet, or intravenous or tube feeding. Nutrition therapy may help patients recover more quickly and spend less time in the hospital. Also called medical nutrition therapy.
nutritional counseling(noo-TRIH-shuh-nul KOWN-suh-ling)
A process by which a health professional with special training in nutrition helps people make healthy food choices and form healthy eating habits. In cancer treatment, the goal of nutritional counseling is to help patients stay healthy during and after treatment and to stay strong enough to fight infections and the recurrence of disease. Also called dietary counseling.
nutritional status(noo-TRIH-shuh-nul STA-tus)
The state of a person’s health in terms of the nutrients in his or her diet.
nutritional supplement(noo-TRIH-shuh-nul SUH-pleh-ment)
A product that is added to the diet. A nutritional supplement is taken by mouth, and usually contains one or more dietary ingredient (such as vitamin, mineral, herb, amino acid, and enzyme). Also called dietary supplement.
nutritionist
A health professional with special training in nutrition who can help with dietary choices. Also called dietitian.
nystatin(ny-STA-tin)
The active ingredient in a drug used to treat infections caused by fungi (a type of microorganism). Nystatin is made by certain strains of bacteria and kills fungi by binding to their membranes. It is a type of antifungal agent.

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) 460 W. 10th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210 Phone: 1-800-293-5066 | Email: jamesline@osumc.edu