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terms and abbreviations

trainer's picture
Posts: 242
Joined: Sep 2008

As a fairly new Semicolon, I'm still trying to get a handle on all the shorthand used in messages here. So I was pleased to find this list of terms and abbreviations on The Colon Club site. If you see any errors in this list, please point them out. Hope this list is helpful to others:

Many people new to this disease and new to this board can get lost in the alphabet soup of the terminology. It's almost impossible to read an abstract of a clinical trial without some of these terms and abbreviations.
So here's a start for translation. Hopefully others will augment and amend as necessary:

CRC - colorectal cancer
mCRC - metastatic colorectal cancer
DX - diagnosis
TX - treatment
PX - prognosis
OS - overall survival
PFS - progression free survival - used to describe the time that a patient is stable, or showing no worsening/progression of the disease
DFS - disease free survival - used to describe the time that a patient is NED
NED - no evidence of disease
MRD - minimal residual disease
LN - Lymph node
PSD - peritoneal surface disease - means that the cancer has spread to the abdominal cavity and is on the surface of the organs rather than within the organs
HIPEC - heated chemotherapy used to wash out the peritoneal/abdominal cavity
Met - metastasis
Lesion - something fishy, usually a tumor
Neoplastic process - potentially cancerous activity
Imaging - generally some type of scan or X-ray
PS - Performance Status - a term used to describe your overall ability to function, dressing yourself, eating, physical activity, etc.

FOLFOX - chemo regimen using 5-FU, Leucovorin, and Oxaliplatin (Eloxatin)
Oxi - shorthand for Oxaliplatin
FOLFIRI - chemo regimen using 5-FU, Leucovorin and Irinotecan (Camptosar)
Xeloda (Capecitabine) - Oral 5-FU (pill form)
XELOX - Xeloda and Oxaliplatin - also called CAPOX for CAPecitabine and OXaliplatin
XELIRI - Xeloda and Irinotecan
Bevacizumab (Avastin) - a drug used to stop new blood vessels from forming
Anti-angiogenesis - the process of stopping new blood vessels from forming
VEGF - Vascular endothelial growth factor - the part of the cancer cell dealing with new blood vessel formation
Cetuximab (Erbitux) - HELP!
Panitumibab (Vectibix) - HELP!
EGFR - Epithelial Growth Factor Receptor - the key to Erbitux and Vectibix's actions
KRAS - a part of the DNA of the cancer cell which they now know has a connection to whether the EGFR class of drugs will be effective on your cancer.
KRASwt - Wild Type - means that the cancer's KRAS gene has not mutated and will respond to the EGFR drugs
KRASmt - Mutant Type - means that the cancer's KRAS gene HAS mutated, and thus is unlikely to respond to the EGFR drugs

Peripheral Neuropathy - a side effect of Oxaliplatin in which the nerves in your extremities are damaged and you experience numbness and some loss of use of your hands and feet

Hand and Foot syndrome - a side effect of 5-FU in which your hands and feet become tender and the skin can crack and peel. Can be more common with oral 5-FU (Xeloda)

Anti-emetic - any kind of drug that is used to combat nausea and vomiting

Blood work - I'm punting on that one!

Adjuvant - chemo treatment that follows surgical removal of all the cancer they can find -- it generally refers to treatment done when the patient is presumably cancer free
Neo-adjuvant - chemo that is done prior to surgery both to potentially shrink any known lesions and also to offer some systemic treatment to prevent new lesions from cropping up

Resection - surgically removing a big chunk of something - like your colon or your liver. It offers the best potential for a curative surgery because they can usually take out the cancer, and also some buffer zone tissue which is referred to as the "margin."

Margins - the amount of cancer free tissue surrounding the tumor - they determine this when the resected tissue is sent to the pathology lab
Radial margin - the amount of colon wall that was left cancer free
Longitudinal margin - the amount of colon - lengthwise - that was left cancer free in the chunk that was removed surgically

RFA - Radio Frequency Ablation - this is a localized treatment for tumors where a probe is inserted into the tumor and heated with radio waves to cook the cancer to death. It is often done when the lesions in question cannot be resected for some reason.
Cryoablation - same idea as RFA, but they freeze the tumor instead of cooking it

I'm pasting in stuff from others' posts

ADL = activities of daily life (eating, dressing, showering, etc.)
RCa = rectal cancer
MRC = metastatic rectal cancer
TNM = an attempt at universal staging evaluation that attempts to unify across countries analysis tumors and extent of spread of disease. T refers to tumor and can be modified X-4, N refers to node involvement and is modified X-2 and M refers to metastasis to distant organs, modified X, 1 or 0. The number that follows T or N indicates severity; X indicates it can't be assessed yet, and the number that follows M indicates presence (X for not assessed, 1 for present, 0 for not present.). It will be types out as TnNnMn.
T4N2M1 means tumor spread to distant organs, node involvement to 4 or more regional lymph nodes, mets-yes and is equal to a Stage IV diagnosis. More explanation of the TNM system: http://cancerstaging.blogspot.com/2005/ ... ectum.html

CBC: Complete blood count, including both hematology and serum chemistry analysis. Hematology can usually be run quickly, and checks things like white counts and red blood cell counts. Serum chem analysis takes longer (the machine runs more slowly.)

CEA - Carcino-embryonic Antigen - this is a tumor marker for Colon Cancer. Not all colon cancers emit this marker, so it is not useful for every patient. It if is a good indicator for your cancer, they can monitor the trends in your bloodwork. If it starts to trend up then they generally will go on a hunt to figure out what's up.

APR = anterior perineal resection
TPE or CPE = total (or complete) pelvic exenteration (used to be called pelvic evisceration). It's complete removal of all remaining organs in the pelvis, including the bladder, and usually requires double ostomies.
LAR = low anterior resection

TPN = total parenteral nutrition, or nutrient liquid delivered via IV or PICC line.

CR = Complete response to chemotherapy
PR = Partial response to chemotherapy
PD = Progressive disease while on chemotherapy

Refractory - resistant or unresponsive to various chemotherapy treatments

onc = our little term to mean oncologist

palliative = treatments necessary to make patient more comfortable or have less pain

Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Thank you so much for posting this. It is an incredible resource. All the terms and abbreviations are so difficult to learn -- it's like learning a foreign language -- often while people are coping with the 'trauma' of diagnosis. But also a good resource even for "old timers" like me. I'm forever trying to remember the various names for different chemo regimes and combos.

I would love to find some way of making this resource easily accessible to our members. I'm not sure how.

But in the meantime, let me do my bit by raising this nearer to the top of the postings -- I suppose a simple solution would be to do that periodically???

Thanks again -- this was a real labour of love.


AceSFO's picture
Posts: 230
Joined: Sep 2009


CherylHutch's picture
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

Let me add my thanks here, too!! That's a very impressive list and valuable resource!!

I learned stuff I didn't know, but had heard around these boards. Many times I have heard people saying they were on Xeloda, an oral form of chemo, but I had never heard that brand before. Of course, there are many, many kinds of chemo so me not having heard of some is no surprise. What IS a surprise is that Xeloda is the same as Capecitabine!! That was the oral chemo I was on while going through the 6 weeks of daily radiation. I didn't know they were one and the same!




VickiCO's picture
Posts: 934
Joined: Oct 2008

This will help not only me, but my family and friends who are helping me. Thanks for all your posts. You are so encouraging. And I, too, am getting through this with humor, so your little side trips are so good for me.

Keep it up!


Buzzard's picture
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

IGKCA....................im gonna kick cancers ... :-)

RickMurtagh's picture
Posts: 586
Joined: Feb 2010

CKMBTW - chemo kicked my butt this week?

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

So, you have come out the 'other' side of your first round....I was sure sending good vibes...

Hugs, Kathi

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

No Evidence of Residual Disease....

Thanks, dearheart....I am printing this out to give to all of my patient partners....

Of course, for each cancer, there are some 'specials', so I am becoming inspired to post on my 'other' cancer board (breast) all of this plus all of those!!!

Thanks, again!!!

BIG hugs, Kathi

claud1951's picture
Posts: 429
Joined: Jun 2007

Thank you Mike.


Mike49's picture
Posts: 269
Joined: Nov 2008

Good job, we all need to be familiar with these.

trainer's picture
Posts: 242
Joined: Sep 2008

I like the, ahem, somewhat off-target additions to the list.And it reminded me of one that I think all of us Semicolons can relate to:



'nuff said.

Buzzard's picture
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

LMBO (laugh my butt off)

Bohica,,,,thats funny but it won't happen to me.....mines sewn shut....and it suits me just fine....makes colonoscopies a lot easier.....LOL...Have a great day all......... :-)

Mike49's picture
Posts: 269
Joined: Nov 2008

Shorthand for "Arizona Weather Superior for Oxiliplatin" I have empathy for those reported their weather in the 20s and experiencing the Neuropathy symptoms. I left clinic today after infusion to outdoor tempartures in the 70s, actually used the AC on the freeway. I don't know if any of those that are not lucky like us to have this weather at this time of the year can change anything but my empathy is with them.

I know as an Arizonan yourself, you can relate.


Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

I just want to raise this posting to the top of the page, in an effort to keep it on the first page of our board.

Will others help do the same??? (I have no memory -- chemobrain).

I think it is such an important resource, especially for newly-joining members.....


msccolon's picture
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004


Posts: 144
Joined: Jan 2009

I'm rather new to colon cancer (Stage 3c) I just started chemo January 21,2009. I'm constantly trying to "look up" what all the abbreviations mean. You're a great help! Thank you.

johnnybegood's picture
Posts: 1122
Joined: Oct 2008

thank you so much for doing this,even though i was dx in sept 08 i havent been around a lot of these things. i didnt want to feel stupid for asking so i have just been reading along knowing someday i would find out these terms.the only chemo i have had is 5 wks of xeloda in pill form but my time is coming next week on preventitive chemo, i suppose i will find out more terms{some of which im sure i dont want to know} thanks again.....johnnybegood

maglets's picture
Posts: 2596
Joined: Jun 2006

Trainer that is really useful

Thanks so much


Posts: 132
Joined: Feb 2009

thanks fro the info i am just starting my journey in this fight! any and all info is helpful

msccolon's picture
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

Hate that you had to find us, but thank gawd you are here! Tell us a little about yourself, ok?

Posts: 132
Joined: Feb 2009

hate that i had to find this to ,but this site has been a god send!!! great info great people, im 43 and had my surgery 5 weeks ago, my chemo starts march 9th and i am soooooo nervous. thats why im glad i found this site, i hope to meet people who can help me through this fight!!!!!! thnaks for your thoughts.......Tommy

Shayenne's picture
Posts: 2370
Joined: Jan 2009

Welcome to this wonderful supportive board. I am new as well, just turned 44 a few days ago, and just had my first chemo treatment last week, and was nervous as heck also! it turned out to be not so bad, except for the nausea, but getting it all in all, the chemo nurses were so sweet and tried to help you get through it as much as they can, they will even give you something to calm you during you treatment, if you're that nervous. I know what to expect now, it's not as bad you would think, I was really scared, but it's something I just have to get used too unfortunately :)


Posts: 132
Joined: Feb 2009

Thanks donna!!!!! your words are helpful!!!!!

Shayenne's picture
Posts: 2370
Joined: Jan 2009

Believe me, if a wuss like me can do it, you will definitely get through it :)

Hugsss and good luck to you, keep us posted and let us know how you are doing!

Posts: 160
Joined: Nov 2007

Bumping this up for some of the newer board members. Hope it helps.


Posts: 37
Joined: Jul 2009

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

WinneyPooh's picture
Posts: 318
Joined: Jul 2009

Thanks Trainer , Big Help to everyone, You really know alot and I think the more I know the more i can accept this whole mess. And really begin to deal,

Anonymous user (not verified)

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Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2009

one good thing about that spammer is that this posting was brought to the forefront. Very informative to this new subscriber/"semi-colon;"

Betsydoglover's picture
Posts: 1256
Joined: Jul 2005

Hi all - if you are looking for a great list of terms that is always available, go to Colon Club (www.colonclub.com) and click on the "Colon Talk" link. That brings you to the discussion board and there is a post that is always near the top (top 3 anyway) that includes terms and abbreviations.

Worth checking out.


msccolon's picture
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

here's that post with terms

Posts: 827
Joined: Jan 2010

This helps a lot.

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