High dose chemotherapy or radiotherapy aimed at destroying any residual cancer cells but which at the same time destroys the patient’s own bone marrow and therefore requires stem cell rescue.
A rapidly progressive cancer of the blood, usually of sudden onset, and characterised by the uncontrolled growth of immature blood cells which take over the bone marrow and spill into the bloodstream. If left untreated, it is fatal within a few weeks or months.
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)
A rapidly progressing cancer of the blood affecting the type of white blood cells known as lymphocytes. It is the most common form of childhood cancer but also occurs in adults.
Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)
A rapidly progressing cancer of the blood affecting immature cells of the bone marrow, usually of the white cell population. It is more common in adults than in children.
Adenosine deaminase inhibitors
Drugs used in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and lymphoma that appear to be less toxic because they act by encouraging cell death rather than actively killing cells. They may be more effective in some diseases than more conventional chemotherapy.
The scientific study of the factors that cause a disease, for example, environmental factors such as infections and radiation. (Spelled etiology in the USA.)
Anti-cancer drugs that interact with genetic material (DNA) in such a way as to prevent division of the cells. Drugs of this type include busulphan, chlorambucil, cyclophosphamide, and melphalan.
Allogeneic stem cell transplant
The transplant of blood stem cells from one person to another. The donor is usually a sister or brother or an unrelated volunteer donor.
Hair loss. This is a side effect of some kinds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It is usually temporary.
A reduction in haemoglobin level in the blood. Haemoglobin normally carries oxygen to all the body's tissues. Anaemia causes tiredness, paleness and sometimes shortness of breath.
Drugs used in leukaemia therapy to prevent cell division by disrupting the structure of DNA. Drugs of this type include daunorubicin, doxorubicin (adriamycin), epriubicin, and idarubicin.
A drug used to treat fungal infections.Drugs used in leukaemia therapy to prevent cell division by disrupting the structure of DNA. Drugs of this type include daunorubicin, doxorubicin (adriamycin), epriubicin, and idarubicin.
A drug used to treat viral infections.
A drug used to treat bacterial infections.
Naturally produced substances in the blood, made by white blood cells called B-lymphocytes or B-cells. Antibodies target antigens on foreign or abnormal substances such as bacteria, viruses and some cancer cells and cause their destruction.
A drug which prevents or reduces feelings of sickness (nausea) and vomiting.
A substance, usually on the surface of a foreign body such as a virus or bacteria that stimulates the cells of the body's immune system to react against it by producing antibodies.
Drugs given to diminish allergic reactions.
Antibodies that attach to and destroy lymphocytes. This may be used clinically by injection into a vein, for example, in aplastic anaemia or in other conditions where the body's immune system is being harmful. (See also auto-immune diseases.)
A group of anti-cancer drugs that prevent cells growing and dividing by blocking the chemical reactions required in the cell to produce DNA. Drugs of this type include mercaptopurine, azathioprine, thioguanine, and methotrexate.
The process of 'skimming off' the stem cells from the blood to be used for transplant or stored in frozen form until needed. This occurs through an apheresis machine that filters the blood, gradually separating and collecting the stem cells and progressively returning the processed blood to the person. Stem cells are usually not seen in the blood stream and so special drugs are used to mobilise the stem cells to move from their normal place in the bone marrow into the blood stream.