Glossary

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The terminology used in the medical field is not always easy to understand. This section is designed to provide a flexible and easy way to search for the meaning of some of the medical terms regularly used on this site.
  • B2-microglobulin serum
    Protein normally present on the surface of white blood cells, the concentration of which is correlated to the number of multiple myeloma cells in the body, and is the best single indicator of tumor burden.
  • Bence Jones protein
    Free light chains of monoclonal immunoglobulin secreted in the urine in some patients with myeloma.
  • Biopsy of the lymph node
    Procedure for the removal of a tissue sample from a lymph node.
  • Biopsy bone marrow
    Withdrawal procedure of a bone fragment that contains the bone marrow.
  • Blasts
    Immature myeloid cells in the bone marrow and peripheral blood not fully differentiated.
  • Bone marrow
    Part of the internal spongy bones where the blood cells (white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets) are formed.
  • Calcium
    The most abundant mineral in the human body, important for healthy bones and teeth.
  • Calorie
    Unit of energy.Each macronutrient (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) introduced into the body is transformed into energy.The amount of energy (and calorie) foods varies according to their composition: fat produces about 9 calories per gram, while proteins and carbohydrates produce about 4 calories per gram.
  • Carbohydrates
    One of the three macro-nutrients (the other two are fats and proteins) that make up our diet.They exist in various shapes and are the main source of energy for the body.
  • CAT (Computerized Axial Tomography)
    Diagnostic imaging technique in which data collected by the passage of various X-ray beams in the affected area are processed by a computer to reconstruct a three dimensional image.
  • CBC
    Complete blood laboratory examination, which determines various parameters including the amount of cells (white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets) and hemoglobin levels in the blood.
  • Chemotherapy
    Therapy based on the use of chemicals and drugs to kill the cells.Although the term also includes the treatment of infectious diseases, in which the pathogens are killed, in everyday language it is used mainly in relation to cancer, in which cancer cells are killed.
  • Chromosome
    Compact and organized structure that contains most of the DNA of a living organism.
  • Clinical examination (or clinical examination)
    Investigation by the patient's physician after collecting medical history.It includes the set of diagnostic procedures aimed at seeking objective signs (other than subjective symptoms reported by the patient) indicative of a pathological condition.
  • Comorbidity
    Co-existence of several diseases in the same individual.
  • Computed tomography
    Diagnostic imaging technique in which data collected by the passage of various X-ray beams in the affected area are processed by a computer to reconstruct a three-dimensional image.
  • Cytogenetics

    The branch of genetics that studies the chromosomes and cell division.

    Study the morphology of the chromosomes, as visible with an optical microscope, and the karyotype, i.e. the set of chromosomes of a cell.

  • Creatinine
    Measuring the amount of the waste product creatinine in the blood.An increase in creatinine indicates kidney failure.
  • Cryoglobulinemia
    Painful circulatory problems in hands and feet, it can also be painful, due to low temperatures.
  • Diagnosis
    Clinical judgment which is the identification of a specific disease, according to the analysis of the clinical signs and symptoms reported by the patient and the results of specific imaging techniques.
  • Diagnostic imaging
    Methodical which reveals, through the formation of images, the presence of a pathological condition, comprising radiology, computed tomography, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging.
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
    The rate at which red blood cells precipitate in an hour; it is a measure of non-specific inflammation.
  • Fatigue
    Sensation of tiredness that lasts, difficult to overcome and that leaves a feeling of total exhaustion at the emotional, mental and physical. As such a sense of fatigue is not related to the activities carried out and it is difficult to solve with sleep or rest.
  • Fats (lipids)
    Nutrient Group characterized by higher power energy (9 calories / g, more than double the protein and carbohydrates).In addition to storing and delivering energy, fats have other important functions for the proper functioning of the body, but should not be consumed in excessive amounts so as not to be harmful to health.
  • Fiber (dietary fiber)
    Class of foods devoid of nutritional value to humans (are not digested by the intestine) but which exert important functional effects such as increased satiety and improving bowel function.
  • Focal lesions
    Alteration of tissues or organs, single and localized.
  • Folate (or folic acid)
    Vitamin B group, important for the growth and reproduction of body cells.
  • Free radicals
    Waste products that are formed inside the cells, which are harmful to the body.
  • Granulocytes
    Type of white blood cells with granulations characteristics inside them.
  • Granulocytopenia
    Count reduced granulocyte in peripheral blood.
  • Hemoglobin
    Component of red blood cells prepared to carry oxygen in the blood.
  • Hemorrhage
    Leakage of blood from vessels (arteries, veins, capillaries).
  • Hepatosplenomegaly
    Increase the size of the liver and spleen.
  • Hybridization in situ fluorescence (FISH)
    Very sensitive technique to detect chromosomal abnormalities.
  • Hypercalcemia
    Increased calcium content in the blood.
  • Hyperviscosity
    Increased viscosity and plasma volume, which is associated with headaches, blurred vision, retinal hemorrhage and bleeding oro-nasal.
  • Hyperviscosity symptomatic
    Severe increase in blood viscosity checausa symptoms like headaches and dizziness.
  • IgM
    Monoclonal immunoglobulin M monoclonal paraprotein or M is a type of antibody involved in the immune defense, produced by specific B lymphocytes, called plasma cells.
  • IgM-MGUS
    Code that identifies the monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, plasma cell disorder characterized by relatively low levels of monoclonal protein in the blood and/or urine, in the absence of symptoms related to myeloma (anemia, renal failure, hypercalcemia, and lytic lesions).
  • Immune system
    Set of organs, tissues and circulating cells, distributed throughout the body and in communication with each other, able to intervene in defense of an organism.
  • Immuno-Chemotherapy
    Combined therapy of chemotherapy and immunotherapy
  • Immunophenotypic examination
    Examination aimed at identifying certain cells within a sample due to the recognition of specific substances expressed on the surface or within those cells.
  • Immunophenotyping
    Examination aimed at identifying certain cells within a sample due to the recognition of specific substances expressed on the cell surface or within those cells.
  • Immunosuppression
    The condition of a subject that is, for different reasons, to have reduced immune defenses.
  • Immunotherapy
    Therapy that acts on the immune system.
  • Incidence
    Measurement relative to the number of individuals who are affected by a disease (new cases) in a given period of time.
  • Infection
    The process of invasion of an organism or parts of it (organs or tissues) by one or more microbial species (e.g. viruses, bacteria).
  • Ionizing radiations
    Radiation whose energy is sufficient to cause the loss of electrons from atoms that become ions.The alpha and beta particles, such as gamma rays and X-rays, are all examples of ionizing radiation.The ultraviolet light, infrared and visible light are all examples of non-ionizing radiation.
  • Iron
    Important mineral for the formation of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen in the blood.
  • Kidney failure
    Reduction of the kidney's ability to perform its functions.
  • Lactate dehydrogenase
    Element of a group of enzymes detectable in the blood and in other body tissues and involved in energy production in cells.An increase of this substance in the blood can be a sign of tissue damage or certain types of cancers.
  • Leukemia
    Type of cancer that affects the blood cells.
  • Leukopenia
    Condition clinical characterized by an abnormal reduction in leukocytes (white blood cells) in the blood.
  • Light Chains
    Portion of monoclonal protein or M protein characterized by low molecular weight.It can be linked to a heavy chain or it can be detached or free.
  • Lymphadenopathy
    Enlarged lymph nodes.
  • Lymphocyte
    Type of white blood cell that helps defend the body against infection.There are three main types of lymphocytes: B lymphocytes, which produce antibodies; T-lymphocytes, which have different functions, including assisting B lymphocytes in the production of antibodies; lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cells, which are able to attack the virus-infected cells and tumor cells.
  • Lymphocyte B
    Type of white blood cell that helps to protect the body against infection.The B cells produce antibodies.
  • Lymph Nodes
    Small rounded bodies belonging to the immune system distributed throughout various parts of the body and connected to each other by small channels called lymphatics.Lymph nodes are the stations where immune system cells, particularly lymphocytes, meet the potentially dangerous foreign agents and take steps to combat them.
  • Lymphatic System
    Component of the immune system, which includes members present throughout the body, including the spleen, bone marrow, lymph nodes and lymph vessels.
  • Lymphocytic leukemia
    Hematologic Neoplasia chronic course caused by the accumulation in the bone marrow and peripheral blood of apparently mature lymphocytes.
  • Lymphoproliferative disorder
    Illness related to the cells of the lymphatic system.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    Diagnostic technique that uses magnetic fields instead of radiation to create a radiographic image; especially useful in neurological diseases, skeletal muscle, cardiovascular and oncology.
  • Minerals (or minerals) (eg. Calcium, sodium, etc.)
    Substances present in the body in small amounts but essential for human life; minerals cannot be produced within our bodies, so we must obtain them from our diet.Mineral salts are particularly important for the processes of formation of teeth and bones, regulation of salt and water, growth and development of tissues and organs and processes that produce energy.
  • Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)
    Non-malignant disease in which there is a low level of M protein, but no other symptoms.Some cases may progress into myeloma.
  • Myeloid cells
    Cells that are derived from hematopoietic stem cells, which are found in bone marrow, giving rise to red blood cells, certain white blood cells (granulocytes and monocytes) and platelets.
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome or myeloproliferative syndrome
    Hematologic disorder.
  • Multiple Myeloma
    Neoplasia caused by the presence of plasma cells in the bone marrow.Cancerous plasma cells are called myeloma cells.
  • Neoplasia
    Synonymous with cancer.
  • Neuropathy
    Numbness, tingling and/or pain in the hands, feet, legs and/or arms to the pain caused by peripheral nerve injuries.
  • Neutropenia
    Clinical condition characterized by an abnormal reduction in neutrophils (white blood cells) in the blood.
  • Niacin (vitamin B3 or vitamin PP)
    Vitamin which plays a role in cellular respiration reactions, synthesis and degradation of amino acids, fatty acids and cholesterol.Its deficiency is the basis of pellagra, a widespread disease in the poorer areas of our country until the late 19th century and characterized by digestive tract disorders, nervous and mental disorders, and especially skin lesions.
  • Nerve roots
    Initial nerve Party through the spinal cord.
  • Nutrients
    All dietary substances used by the body to ensure normal development and to maintain good health.In relation to the requirements, we can distinguish between macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), water and fibers are also added to this classification.
  • Osteoblasts
    Cells responsible for bone formation.
  • Osteoclasts
    Cells responsible for bone resorption.
  • Osteoid
    Organic material (not mineral water) of the bone matrix.
  • Osteolytic bone disease
    Bone lesion characterized by the complete destruction of a part or a whole bone, which can be determined by pathological processes of various kinds, such as bone inflammation, primitive or metastatic bone tumors, nerve diseases, endocrine diseases or as a result of traumatic injuries.When it is particularly extended it can result in a bone fracture also as a result of minimal trauma.
  • Pathological fractures
    Fractures of the bones caused by a disease rather than a traumatic event.
  • Paraprotein
    Or monoclonal immunoglobulin light chain immunoglobulin present in blood or urine, produced by plasma cells.In Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia (MW) the paraprotein is always of IgM subtype.In patients with MGUS-IgM they carry out regular tests of monoclonal paraprotein quantification to monitor the progression to overt MW.
  • Performance status
    Measures of psychological well-being of a subject.
  • Petechiae
    Small localized bleeding caused by the rupture of small blood vessels under the skin.
  • Platelets
    Blood cells deputed to the clotting of blood itself.
  • Peak M
    intense band in the region of the γ or β globulins in mapping protein electrophoresis of serum and urine (SPEP or UPEP) typical of a patient with myeloma, index of secretion of a large amount of monoclonal immunoglobulin (M protein).
  • Plasma cell
    Also called plasmocita. An immune system cell that secretes large amounts of antibodies and is located in the bone marrow.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
    Diagnostic technique that involves the intravenous administration of substances normally present in the body (such as glucose), but "marked" with radioactive molecules (radiopharmaceuticals) with the aim of detecting the distribution in the body of these substances.Because glucose is attracted by tumors, PET reveals the accumulation producing dark spots radiographic image.It is useful to confirm a diagnosis of cancer, in order to verify the presence of metastases or to determine the efficacy of a cancer therapy.
  • Prevalence
    Measures relating to individuals in a population that, at any given time, have a certain disease.
  • Prognosis
    Forecasting the likely course of the disease.
  • Pro-vitamin A (carotenoids)
    Substance ingested through the diet which the body then converts into vitamin A.
  • Protein M
    Protein present in the serum and/or urine of 98% of patients with multiple myeloma, whose identification and dosage is essential for the diagnosis and assessment of treatment success.
  • Protein
    Molecules formed by chains of amino acids.They constitute an essential part of living organisms and perform multiple functions including structural roles.
  • Radiography
    Diagnostic imaging technique which uses the X-ray ability to impress a photographic film in relation to the different density of the tissues that cross.
  • Red blood cells
    Blood cells that contain hemoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen.
  • Serum Lactate dehydrogenase
    Tumor load indicator that measures the concentration of LDH in the blood, an enzyme present in the cells of many tissues, released into the blood when the cells of these tissues are diseased.
  • Septicemia
    Systemic inflammation caused by an infection of the body's blood.
  • Sign
    Element that the doctor can observe (e.g. rash).
  • Solitary plasmacytoma
    Type of myeloma in which the tumor has only one localization, bone or extramedullary.
  • Spleen
    Organ located in the upper left part of the abdomen and which, among other functions, 'filters' the blood, eliminating the 'waste' and destroying the old red blood or damaged cells.The enlargement of this organ is defined splenomegaly.
  • Symptomatic
    Patient or disease with symptoms.
  • Thrombocytopenia (or thrombocytopenia)
    Reduction, below the normal range, the number of platelets.
  • Solid tumor
    Compact mass of tissue that grows from the liquid differentiating a tumor composed of cells in suspension.
  • Staging
    Standardized method to define the size of the tumor and the extent to which it has spread.
  • Thiamine (or vitamin B1)
    Vitamin required in carbohydrate metabolism and which promotes the general state of nutrition of the nerve tissue.
  • Translocation
    Chromosomal abnormality caused by the exchange of material between two chromosomes.
  • Thrombocytopenia
    Reduction in the number of platelets.
  • Ultrasound
    diagnostic technique for images using ultrasound.
  • Watch and wait
    Literally, a 'observe & wait' approach used by doctors on patients who do not need treatment.The doctor's role is to wait and monitor the progress of the disease over time by carrying out regular checks.
  • White blood cells
    Blood cells that help the body fight infections.There are five types of white blood cells: neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, monocytes and lymphocytes.
  • Vertebral collapse
    Pathological condition in which the bones of the spine are crushed and are reduced in height.It can cause entrapment of the spinal cord.
  • Vitamin C (or ascorbic acid)
    Vitamin that in addition to participating in numerous metabolic reactions and synthesis of collagen, of some amino acids and hormones, it is also an antioxidant and intervenes in allergic reactions by enhancing the immune response; it neutralizes free radicals and carries out a protective function at stomach level, inhibiting the production of carcinogens.Its deficiency causes a condition called scurvy.
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