Hyundai Cancer Institute :: Frequently Asked Questions About Cancer Basics
Along with a cancer diagnosis come numerous questions and worries. Although all patients and their families are given a binder with specific information on their cancer treatment at the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s, many patients and families often have questions about the terms and phrases related to treatment.
What is cancer and is it contagious?
Cancer occurs when one or more of the body’s cells begin to divide in an uncontrollable way. Cancer can affect the cells of an organ (kidney, bone, brain), blood or lymphatic system. A collection of many of these abnormal cells is called a tumor. The causes of cancer are not yet known. Cancer is not a disease that is transmitted from one person to another like the flu or a cold.
What is a protocol and a roadmap?
A protocol is the treatment plan designed for the patient at the time of diagnosis. This protocol may be chosen from the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) protocols that are used across the nation. It outlines the course of therapy the patient will receive.
A roadmap is a schedule listing all the days of the child’s treatment. The chemotherapy drugs are scheduled certain days. The roadmap may include chemotherapy as well as when labwork, X-rays, lumbar punctures and bone marrow aspirations may need to be done. Dates may vary depending on blood test results or infections, which may result changes in the in chemotherapy schedule.
What is a remission?
Remission is a term used when there is no evidence of disease. Remission only occurs after treatment of the cancer with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy and/or surgery. Patients undergo a number of tests on a scheduled basis to determine if there is any disease. Remission is not the same as a cure. A cure is said to have occurred once a patient has been in remission and remains disease free for at least five years.
What is metastasis?
Metastasis occurs when cancer spreads from one part of the body to another. The primary site is the location of the original tumor and the secondary site is the metastasis (spread of cancer cells to another place in the body).