Anal Cancer Glossary


Cancer that starts in glands. Anal adenocarcinoma can start in cells that line the upper anal canal and in glands under the anal lining that make mucus.

Basal cell carcinoma 
A form of skin cancer. It can occur on the skin around the anus. 

A benign tumor is a growth that is not cancerous. A malignant tumor is cancer.

Procedure to remove a small amount of tissue from the body to examine it and tell whether there is disease. Common types of biopsies include removing tissue by surgery or removing fluid using a syringe.

Cancer that starts in one of the body’s linings.

Using high-potency drugs that target quickly dividing cells and destroy them. Some of the healthy cells (such as hair follicles, cells in the lining of the mouth and intestines, and normal bone marrow stem cells) are also quickly dividing cells, so they are killed as well—their destruction results in some of the side effects patients experience.

Computed tomography (CT) scan
An X-ray procedure, usually called a CT scan (“cat” scan). The machine takes a lot of pictures as it rotates around you and then shows detailed cross-sectional pictures of the body. Your doctor will have pictures of many slices of the part of your body under study.

A doctor who has completed medical school and specialty training, such as in internal medicine, and who is training in a subspecialty, such as hematology-oncology.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Intravenous (IV)
Into a vein.

A malignant tumor is cancer. A benign tumor is a growth that is not cancerous.

A form of skin cancer that affects cells that make the brown pigment melanin. It can occur in the anal lining and the skin around the anus.

Surgical removal.

Squamous cell carcinoma
Cancer that starts in thin, flat cells (squamous cells) in the skin and linings of the body. It can start in the skin around the anus and in the outer lining of the anal canal. This is the most common type of anal cancer.