The part of the body that includes the stomach (belly), intestine, liver, bladder, kidneys and other organs and lymph nodes. The abdomen is located between the ribs and hips.


Killing cancer with heat or cold. A scan or ultrasound is used to see what is happening inside your body, and using fine needles, heat or cold are applied.


Australian Bureau of Statistics


Public recognition of achievement by a health care organisation, of requirements of national health care standards (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality).

acute pain

Pain that is severe but lasts a short time.


A cancer that starts in the cells of glands.

adjuvant therapy or adjuvant treatment

Treatment given after the primary treatment to increase the chances of a cure. In cancer, adjuvant treatment often refers to chemotherapy, hormonal therapy or radiotherapy after surgery, which is aimed at killing any remaining cancer cells.

age standardisation

Adjusting rates to take into account how many old or young people are in the population being studied. When rates are age standardised, differences in the rates over time or between geographical areas do not simply reflect variations in the age distribution of the populations. This is important when looking at cancer because it is a disease that predominantly affects the elderly. So if cancer rates are not age standardised, a higher rate in one country is likely to reflect the fact that it has a greater proportion of older people.

alternative therapies

Treatments used instead of conventional treatments.


A drug that stops a person feeling pain during a medical procedure. A local anaesthetic numbs only a part of the body; a general anaesthetic puts a person to sleep for a period of time.


barium enema

A test to look for cancer in the bowel. A white chalky liquid is put into your rectum and x-rays are taken.


At the beginning of the trial, before treatment is started.


Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health


Not cancerous. Benign cells are not able to spread like cancer cells.

beta human chorionic gonadotropin (beta-HCG)

A hormone normally found in the blood and urine during pregnancy. It may also be produced by some tumour cells. An increased level of beta-human chorionic gonadotropin may be a sign of a cancer of the uterus, ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas or lung, or gestational trophoblastic disease. Beta-human chorionic gonadotropin may also be produced in response to certain conditions that are not cancer. Also called B-hCG.


Removal of cells or tissue from the body for examination under a microscope.


A sac with an elastic wall of muscle; found in the lower part of the abdomen. The bladder stores urine until it is passed from the body.


Full, uncomfortable feeling in abdomen. Can be caused by gas, easting in excess or constipation.

bone marrow

A spongy material within some bones that makes different types of blood cells.


A type of radiotherapy treatment that implants radioactive material sealed in needles or seeds into or near the tumour.


Is a part of the body’s central nervous system.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene

These are genes that normally prevent a patient developing breast or ovarian cancer. If a patient has a fault in one of these genes, they have a high chance of developing breast or ovarian cancer, although it does not mean that they are certain to develop cancer.

breast conserving surgery

Removal of the breast cancer and a small area of healthy tissue around it; also called a lumpectomy, complete local excision, partial mastectomy or wide local excision


A test where a long tube with a tiny light and camera attached to it is put down the throat through the mouth into the lungs so a doctor can have a look.


cancer journey

An individual’s experience of cancer, from detection and screening, diagnosis and treatment, to relapse, recovery and/or palliative care.

cancer survivor

On this website, cancer survivor means anyone who has finished their active cancer treatment and is considered to be in remission.


A cancer that starts in the cells of the body such as the tissue that lines the skin and internal organs of the body.


A person who helps someone through an illness such as cancer or disability.


A hollow, flexible tube through which fluids can be passed into the body or drained from it.


The building blocks of the body. A human is made of millions of cells, which are adapted for different functions. Cells can reproduce themselves exactly or can change as they multiply and become abnormal or damaged, as cancer cells do.

cervical screening test

A simple procedure to check the health of the cervix. It looks for HPV (human papilloma virus) which can lead to cell changes in the cervix.


The firm part between your vagina and your womb. The cervix is sometimes called the neck of the womb.

clinical trials

Research conducted with the patient’s permission, which usually involves a comparison of two or more treatments or diagnostic methods. The aim is to gain better understanding of the underlying disease process and/or methods to treat it. A clinical trial is conducted with a rigorous scientific method for determining the effectiveness of a proposed treatment.


A test where a tube with a tiny light and camera attached to it is put gently into through the bottom to have a look at the bowel.


An operation where the colon is attached to an opening on the stomach.


Coloured liquid is swallowed or put into the body with a needle – it is a type of dye to help some things be seen more clearly. Pictures are taken using other tests such as a CT scan or an MRI scan or PET scans.

CT scan

(computerised tomography): A special type of X-ray that provides a three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body.


A test where a thin tube with a tiny light and camera is put into your bladder where wee comes out.



The identification and naming of a person's condition.


Opening the bowels very frequently. Motions may be watery


Health professional that helps people with a healthy diet and to overcome eating problems or weight changes.


The amount of medication taken.

ductal carcinoma in situ

Non-invasive breast cancer that is confined to (DCIS) the ducts of the breast.



Injecting a chemical into an artery so blood stops flowing to the tumour. This kills some of the cancer and can reduce the size of the tumour.


The lining of the uterus (also known as the womb) or uterus.


A test where a tube with a tiny light and camera attached to it is put gently into the throat or the bottom to look at the gastro-intestinal tract.


A physical inspection of the body used to determine medical fitness or help with diagnosing disease.


Physical activity that helps condition the body to improve health, maintain fitness and physical rehabilitation.


family history

Within the context of this website, we are referring to those people in a family or kinship who share the same bloodlines.


Ability to have children.

follow-up care

Medical care after treatment has finished that includes regular check-ups with your doctors.



A test where a tube with a tiny light and camera attached to it is put gently into the throat, stomach and upper part of the tummy (small intestine).


The elements of a cell that carry instructions on how the cell should grow and function. Each person has a set of many thousands of genes inherited from both parents. This set is found in every cell of the body.

general anaesthetic

A general anaesthetic makes you lose consciousness and fall asleep. You can't feel anything at all.

general practitioner

General practitioners diagnose, refer and treat the health problems of individuals and families in the community. Also, commonly referred to as family doctors.


A score that describes how quickly the tumour is likely to grow.


A doctor who specialises in treating diseases of the female reproductive system.


health outcome

A health-related change due to a preventive or clinical intervention or service. The intervention may be single or multiple, and the outcome may relate to a person, group or population, or be partly or wholly due to the intervention.


A protein on a cell that allows a growth factor to bind to the cell, causing the cell to grow and divide. HER2 is also called HER2-neu or c-erbB2.


Human immunodeficiency virus.


Refers to physical, social, emotional, and cultural wellbeing.

hormonal therapies

Drugs used to treat women who have hormone receptors on their breast cancer cells. Also called endocrine therapies.


A substance that affects how your body works. Some hormones control growth, others control reproduction. They are distributed around the body through the bloodstream.

hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Hormones (oestrogen, progesterone or both) given to women after menopause. Used to ease symptoms of menopause.

human papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV or wart virus. A group of over 100 viruses that can cause infection in the skin surface of different areas of the body including the genital area. Some virus strains are linked to cervical and a number of other cancers. See 'cervical screening test'.



A process used to protect people against a disease through vaccination.


Treatment with drugs that help your immune system attack the cancer cells.


An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander who identifies as such and is accepted as such by the community with which he or she is associated.


A method of putting fluids, including drugs, into the bloodstream through a cannula or needle.



An organ in your belly, towards your back. There are two kidneys which help to clean the blood of toxins and make urine. They also help to control the electrolytes in our blood.



Where a tube is put into your belly to see what’s inside.


Cancer of the blood and bone marrow, which is a spongy tissue in the middle of the bones in your body.


A large organ in the abdomen near the stomach. The liver cleanses the blood, helps to digest food and makes essential nutrients.

liver cancer

Liver cancer is cancer that starts in the liver. It happens when cells in the liver grow in a way that is not normal. The most common type of liver cancer is called hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)

Non-invasive breast cancer that is confined to the lobules of the breast.

locally advanced breast cancer

Invasive breast cancer that has spread to areas near the breast, such as the chest wall.

lumbar puncture

A test to take fluid out of the spine to check for any problems.


lymph nodes

Glands in the armpit and other parts of the body that protect the body from infection.

lymphatic vessels

Tiny vessels next to blood vessels that collect fluid and waste products from the body’s tissue.


Swelling of the arm or leg that can sometimes develop after treatment for breast cancer and melanoma.


A cancer of the lymph nodes. Lymphomas are divided into two broad types, Hodgkin’s disease lymphomas and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas.


magnetic resonance image (MRI)

A way of producing a picture of the inside of the body using magnetic fields.


A way of taking a picture of the breast using a low-dose X-ray.


Removal of the whole breast.


A cancer of the body’s cells that contain pigment (melanin), mainly affecting the skin.

men’s business

Often includes things like health, wellbeing, ceremony, how we conduct family business, taking care of sacred sites and continuing culture through language, song, dance, art and storytelling. Men have distinct roles and responsibilities, performing specific tasks that benefit the whole community. You can request cultural protocol to be followed where gender-specific cancer is present or symptoms resulting from a cancer diagnosis are impacting your reproductive organs.


The name for a cancer that spreads to another part of the body.

multidisciplinary care

A team approach to cancer treatment and planning.



Feeling sick or wanting to be sick.


See 'lymph nodes'.

nuclear medicine

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.


The process of eating and digesting the necessary food the body needs.


occupational therapist

Help you overcome physical problems or barriers using equipment or activities.


The main female sex hormone produced mostly by the ovaries. Oestrogen regulates the menstrual cycle and prepares the breasts for milk production.


A doctor who specialises in the study and treatment of cancer.


Part of a woman’s reproductive system that produces eggs and hormones. There are two ovaries, one on either side of the womb (uterus). They are connected to the womb by tubes called the fallopian tubes.


palliative care

Specialised care for people who have a disease that cannot be cured. Palliative care also referred to as Sorry Business and focuses on helping to control physical symptoms such as pain, on emotional wellbeing, on relationships with others and on spiritual needs. In later stages, palliative care can also help people to prepare for passing into The Dreaming.


An organ in your belly, towards your back. The pancreas helps digest food and controls blood sugar levels.

pap smear

Also called Pap test. This test has been replaced by a Cervical Screening Test.

partial mastectomy


A person who studies diseases to understand their nature and cause. Pathologists examine biopsies under a microscope to diagnose cancer and other diseases.


Tests that involve examining blood, tissue or cells from the body.


The lower part of the trunk of the body: roughly, the area that extends from hip to hip and waist to groin.

people affected by cancer

People who have had a personal experience of cancer, including patients, people living with cancer, cancer survivors, caregivers and family members.

PET scan (positron emission tomography)

A scan used to show any areas in the body where cells are more active than usual.


A health professional that provides physical support, massage and manipulation to help with mobility and reduce pain.


A plan or course of action intended to influence and determine decisions, actions and other matters.


An abnormal growth that protrudes from a mucous membrane, often on a stalk.


A term used to describe a condition that may or is likely to become a cancer.


The number or proportion (of cases, instances, etc.) present in a population at a given time.


Action to reduce or eliminate the onset, causes, complications or recurrence of disease or ill health.

primary cancer/site

The original cancer. Cells from the primary cancer may break away and be carried to other parts of the body, where secondary cancers form. The initial location of a cancer in the body when it is first diagnosed.

primary care

A sub-component of the broader primary health care system. Primary care is provided by a healthcare professional who is a client's first point of entry into the health system (for example: a general practitioner, practice nurse, community nurse, or community based allied health worker). Primary care is practised widely in nursing and allied health, but predominantly in general practice.

primary health care

First level of health care, outside of hospitals. Primary Health Care (PHC) incorporates personal care with health promotion, the prevention of illness and community development. The philosophy of PHC includes the interconnecting principles of equity, access, empowerment, community self-determination and intersectoral collaboration. It encompasses an understanding of the social, economic, cultural and political determinants of health.

primary health care service

Primary health care services involve continuity of care, health promotion and education, integration of prevention with illness and/or disease management, a concern for population as well as individual health, community involvement and the use of appropriate technology.


The likely outcome of a person's disease.


A gland around the neck of the bladder in men. It releases a fluid that makes up the semen.


Detailed instructions about how to complete a specific task. Describes how, when, where and who should be involved in the task. Protocols may refer to a culture, Men’s Business, Women’s Business and clinical care processes or the working relationship between people and/or agencies.


A medical doctor who specialises in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioural disorders.


A health professional who can talk with patients and their families about emotional and personal matters, and can help them make decisions.


quality of life

An individual’s overall appraisal of their situation and subjective sense of wellbeing. Quality of life encompasses symptoms of disease and side effects of treatment, functional capacity, social interactions, spirituality, connection to family and Country and relationships, and occupational functioning. Key psychological aspects include subjective distress, satisfaction with treatment, existential issues, and the impact of illness and treatment on sexuality and body image.


radiation oncologist

A doctor who specialises in treating cancer with radiotherapy.

radiation therapist

A health professional (not a medical doctor) who administers radiotherapy.


Tests that involve taking pictures of different parts of the body using X-rays.

radiotherapy/radiation oncology

The use of radiation, usually x-rays or gamma rays, to kill tumour cells or injure them so they cannot grow or multiply in a specific area of the body.

rectum (bottom)

The entrance to the back passage, through which bowel motions are passed.

recurrent cancer

A cancer that grows from the cells of a primary cancer that have evaded treatment.


The return of a disease after a period of improvement.


Period of time when the symptoms of the cancer reduce or disappear. A partial remission is when there has been a significant improvement in the cancer. A complete remission is when there is no evidence of active disease. This does not necessarily mean that the cancer is cured.


A support service funded by the government for carers to take a break from caring.


A measure of how likely a person is to develop a disease or a side effect.

risk factor

Substance or condition that increases an individual's chances of getting a particular type of cancer.



An organised program (using tests, examinations or other procedures) to identify disease such as cancer, or changes which may later develop into disease such as cancer, before symptoms appear.

secondary cancer

Also called metastasis. A tumour that has spread from the original site to another part of the body.

shame job

An event which causes a person shame or embarrassment.

side effect

Unintended effects of a drug or treatment.

sorry business

Any process relating to palliative care, passing into The Dreaming, preparing for such circumstances and the ceremonies that follow when someone enters The Dreaming.


A doctor who specialises in a particular area of medicine. Cancer specialists are called oncologists.

speech therapist

Helps with speech, eating and swallowing problems.


Used to describe the extent of the cancer, such as how big the tumour is and if it has spread.

STI (sexually transmitted infection)

An infection that is passed from person to person via sexual activity.

support group

People on whom an individual can rely for the provision of emotional caring and concern, and reinforcement of a sense of personal worth and value. Other components of support may include provision of practical or material aid, information, guidance, feedback and validation of the individual’s stressful experiences and coping choices.

supportive care

Improving the comfort and quality of life for people with cancer.


A doctor who performs surgery to remove cancerous tissue.


Treatment that involves an operation.


Physical or mental problems a person experiences that may indicate a disease or condition.


targeted therapies

Drugs that stop the growth of particular types of cancer cells. Also known as biological therapies.


Use of phone calls and/or video via the internet for different health appointments.


A procedure performed on a person’s bodily fluids (e.g. blood, cells, tissue), or on the person him/herself, to help detect, diagnose or monitor a disorder or disease.

testicles (balls)

Part of the male reproductive system located in the scrotum, a bag of skin that holds and helps to protect the testicles. They are responsible for making sperm and are also involved in producing a hormone called testosterone.


Another word for treatment, and includes chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy and surgery.


A collection of cells that make up each piece (or organ) of the body.

tissue biopsy

Examination of tissue that has been removed from the body under a microscope so any abnormalities in the cells can be seen.

traditional healing/medicine and cultural practices

Within the context of this website, includes various traditional forms of healing such as the use of traditional healers, healing songs, ceremonies and bush medicines.


The transfer of blood or blood products from a donor to another person.


A surgical procedure where tissue or an organ is transferred from one area of a person’s body to another area, or from one person (the donor) to another person (the recipient).


An abnormal growth of tissue. It may be localised (benign) or invade adjacent tissues (malignant) or distant tissues (metastatic).



A small wound in the skin or lining of the mouth or stomach. May be sore and swollen.


A way of producing a picture of the inside of the body using sound waves.


The tube that carries urine from the bladder out through the penis and to the outside of the body.


Another name for the womb.


wart virus


Workforces Education & Development Group (Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney), formerly known as Office of Postgraduate Medical Education

white blood cells

Blood cells produced by the bone marrow that help the body to fight infections.

women’s business

Often includes things like health, wellbeing, ceremony, how we conduct family business, taking care of sacred sites and continuing culture through language, song, dance, art and storytelling. Women have distinct roles and responsibilities, performing specific tasks that benefit the whole community. You can request cultural protocol to be followed where gender-specific cancer is present or symptoms resulting from a cancer diagnosis are impacting your reproductive organs.

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