Glossary of terms and abbreviations

From Cancer Guidelines Wiki

Term used in guidelines Other terms Meaning Reference
Adherence Compliance The degree or extent of conformity to the prescribers recommendations about day-to-day treatment with respect to timing, dosing and frequency. [1]
Adverse event Any untoward medical occurrence that may present during treatment with a pharmaceutical product but which does not necessarily have a causal relationship with this treatment. [2]
Adverse reaction Adverse drug reaction, adverse drug effect, adverse medicine reactions A response to a drug which is noxious and unintended, and which occurs at doses normally used in man for the prophylaxis, diagnosis or therapy of disease or for the modifications of physiological function. [3]
Allogeneic transplant Transplantation of bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells to a patient from another person, usually a sibling but sometimes an unrelated donor.
Area under the curve AUC Within these guidelines, refers to the area under the time-concentration curve for carboplatin dose calculations derived from the Calvert formula.
Assent Assent expresses a willingness to participate in a proposed treatment by persons who, by definition, are too young to give informed consent, but who are old enough to understand the diagnosis and proposed treatment in general, its expected risks, and possible benefits. However, assent, by itself, is not sufficient. If assent is given, informed consent must still be obtained from the patient's parents or guardian. [1]
Autologous transplant Transplantation of a patient's own bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells, which are collected in advance and returned at a later stage. They are used to replace stem cells that have been damaged by high doses of chemotherapy, used to treat the person's underlying disease.
Bioavailability The proportion of a drug or other substance which enters the circulation when introduced into the body and so is able to have an active effect.
Biological therapy Treatment of cancer with biological materials or biological response modifiers, such as the use of gene therapy, vaccines etc.
BSA Body surface area The two dimensional measure of the outer layer of the body, usually estimated using various formula. In oncology these are most commonly the Mostellar or DuBois equations. Used to calculate specific patient doses of most current chemotherapy drugs.
Cancer therapy Cancer treatment, chemotherapy All antineoplastic agents used to treat cancer, administered through oral and parenteral routes or other routes as specified. Types include targeted agents, cytotoxic chemotherapy, monoclonal antibodies and biological and related agents. Hormonal therapies are not included in the definition of chemotherapy for these guidelines.
Clinical governance A framework through which services are accountable for continually improving the quality of their services and safeguarding high standards of care by creating an environment in which excellence in clinical care can flourish. [4]
Clinical handover Clinical handover is the transfer of professional responsibility and accountability for some or all aspects of care for a patient, or group of patients, to another person or professional group on a temporary or permanent basis. [5]
Clinical verification Verification The systematic process performed on chemotherapy prescriptions to ensure safety and accuracy of the prescribed drug(s), carried out as part of both pharmacist and nurse checking of chemotherapy prior to dispensing and administration respectively.
Cockcroft Gault method A mathematical equation which allows a patient's creatinine clearance to be estimated from the serum creatinine, age, sex and weight. [6]
Competency The capability to apply or use the set of related knowledge, skills and abilities required to successfully perform critical work functions or tasks in a defined work setting.
Complementary and alternative medicines Complementary therapies, CAMs Complementary medicines include medicines and therapies that are not traditionally part of conventional medical practice, used together with conventional medicine to produce better health outcomes. Alternative medicines are medicines and therapies that are not considered part of conventional medical practice and are used in place of conventional medicine. [7]
Conditioning regimens The treatment used to prepare a patient for stem cell transplantation and may include chemotherapy, monoclonal antibody therapy or radiation therapy to the entire body. Usually refers to myeloablative treatment which eradicates most or all of the bone marrow cells.
Conjugated MAb Monoclonal antibodies (MAb) chemically joined to a chemotherapy drug or to a radioactive particle.
Consent Consent to treatment is an important part of delivering quality cancer care. Consent is the process by which a patient is provided with sufficient information about the disease diagnosis and treatment options so that the individual can make a reasonable decision about treatment on the basis of an understanding of the potential risks and anticipated benefits of the treatment. Informed consent is not a waiver of rights. [1]
Continuing professional education Continuing professional development, CPD Continuing education to maintain and enhance knowledge and skills with medical, pharmacy and nursing staff having formal CPD obligations to meet registration requirements.
CrCl Creatinine clearance The volume of blood plasma that is cleared of creatinine per unit time and is a useful measure for approximating the glomerular filtration rate.
Cytotoxic chemotherapy Drugs with direct cellular toxicity properties (cytotoxic) used to treat cancer. Examples include alkylating agents, anthracyclines, antitumour antibiotics and folate antagonists.
De-prescribing The systematic process of identifying and discontinuing potentially inappropriate medications with the aim of minimising polypharmacy and improving patient outcomes, within the context of an individual patient’s care goals, current level of functioning, life expectancy, values and preferences.
Dose capping The process of applying a maximum dose for an individual patient based on drug and specific patient characteristics despite the calculated dose being higher, usually in order to minimise toxicity while maintaining efficacy.
Drug and Therapeutics Committee The group assigned responsibility for governance of the medication management system, and for ensuring the safe and effective use of medicines in the health service organisation. [8]
DuBois formula A formula used to estimate a patient's body surface area. [9]
Electronic decision support Provides information electronically within an e-prescribing or electronic information management system during a process being carried out by a user, to inform or support a decision point within the program.
Electronic prescribing and information management systems E-prescribing systems An oncology information system or computerised prescribing system which facilitates the prescribing, dispensing and administration of cancer therapy in an electronic format, in order to reduce the incidence of medication error.
External compounder Third-party compounder Chemotherapy manufactured by an external company after provision of a chemotherapy order by the institution, and delivered to the institution for patient treatment.
Extravasation The escape of a compound from the vessel into which it is being administered into the surrounding tissue or body cavity.
Geriatric Relating to the older adult, usually defined as those above the age of 65 years old.
GFR Glomerular filtration rate Describes the flow rate of filtered fluid through the kidneys and is a surrogate marker for kidney function.
Governance committee A committee or group which meets to define and manage clinical governance within an institution.
Health care record Medical record The primary repository of information including medical and therapeutic intervention for the health and well being of a patient during an episode of care and informs care in future episodes.
Health literacy Degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.
Health care facilities Hospital, clinical facility Any location where health care is provided.
Hypersensitivity reactions Allergy A symptomatic interaction between antibodies and allergens that causes an exaggerated and harmful response in the body. Ranges from mild to life-threatening in severity and symptoms. [1]
Intrathecal chemotherapy Intrathecal therapy, intrathecal route The administration of chemotherapy directly into the cerebrospinal fluid through a lumbar puncture or a device placed under the scalp.
Investigational medications A drug which is under investigation (usually within a clinical trial) but which is not yet approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Medicines access programs Access schemes, compassionate access schemes Programs offered by pharmaceutical companies to facilitate deferred cost, cost-free or subsidised access to medicines for hospital patients before the implementation of relevant funding arrangements. [10]
Monoclonal antibodies Laboratory produced antibodies that bind to specific antigens expressed on cells, such as a protein that is present on the surface of cancer cells but is absent from or expressed at lower levels on normal cells. [11]
Mostellar formula A formula used to estimate a patient's body surface area. [12]
Multidisciplinary team A group of health care workers who are members of different disciplines and who each provide specific services to a patient in a team setting, to deliver comprehensive patient care.
Narrow therapeutic index Refers to drugs such as chemotherapy agents which have a small difference between the amount of drug needed to cause a therapeutic effect and the amount of drug needed to cause toxicity.
Nomenclature The body or system of names or terms used in a particular specialist field.
Oral cancer therapy Oral chemotherapy Drugs to treat cancer which are administered by the oral route.
Paediatric Relating to the young person, usually defined as children from birth to adolescence.
Parenteral Introduction of substances by intravenous, intra-arterial, subcutaneous, intramuscular, intrathecal or intracavitary routes. [1]
Patient education Provision of verbal and written information to educate a patient on the cancer therapy they will be/are receiving.
PBS Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme A program of the Australian Government that provides subsidised prescription drugs to residents of Australia and certain foreign visitors.
Performance status The use of standard criteria for measuring how the disease impacts the patient's daily living abilities. [1]
Personal Protective Equipment PPE PPE refers to protective clothing, helmets, goggles or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer's body from injury, infection or exposure to a compound being handled.
Pharmacodynamics The study of how a drug affects an organism.
Pharmacokinetics The study of how an organism affects the drug.
Polypharmacy Definitions vary but usually defined as the use of four or more medications by a patient, often occurring in adults over the age of 65.
Quality assurance Activities and programs intended to assure or improve the quality of care in either a defined medical setting or a program.
Skill mix The range of types and levels of ability of a workforce or individual.
Stem cell transplant The process of transfer of blood stem cells from another person to an affected patient (allogeneic) or from the patient's own stem cell reserve previously collected.
Supportive medications Supportive therapy, supportive care medications Refers to medications prescribed, dispensed and administered to a patient as part of a chemotherapy protocol and which do not treat the underlying malignancy, but rather prevent or treat toxicity from the anti-cancer therapy within the protocol or a symptom of the underlying disease itself.
Tall Man lettering The practice of writing part of a drug's name in upper case letters to distinguish sound-alike, look-alike drugs from one another in order to avoid medication errors.
Targeted Therapies Drugs or other substances that block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with and targeting specific genes or proteins that are involved in the growth, progression and spread of cancer.
Transthoracic echocardiogram TTE Ultrasonic recording of the size, motion and composition of the heart and surrounding tissues.
Treatment modality A method of treatment. In cancer therapeutics, the three main modalities of treatment are surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Treatment plan A plan of treatment specific to the patient that is developed before the initiation of chemotherapy with core elements including diagnosis, goals of therapy, chemotherapy plan, patient health status and comorbidities, chemotherapy regimen and starting dosages, duration of treatment and major adverse effects of chemotherapy. [1]
Treatment protocol Chemotherapy protocol Incorporates evidence based information about all details of a chemotherapy regimen which can be used to treat cancer patients, including name of the protocol, tumour group, number of cycles, all drugs relevant to the protocol etc.
Vinca alkaloids A class of cytotoxic chemotherapy with anti-mitotic and anti-microtubule properties. Examples include Vincristine, Vinblastine and Vinorelbine.

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Neuss MN, Gilmore TR, Belderson KM, Billett AL, Conti-Kalchik T, Harvet BE, et al. 2016 Updated American Society of Clinical Oncology/Oncology Nursing Society Chemotherapy Administration Safety Standards, Including Standards for Pediatric Oncology. Oncol Nurs Forum 2017 Jan 6;44(1):31-43 Abstract available at
  2. ICH Harmonised Tripartite Guideline. Clinical Safety Data Management: Definitions and Standards for Expedited Reporting E2A.; 1994 [cited 2017 May] Available from:
  3. Edwards IR, Aronson JK. Adverse drug reactions: definitions, diagnosis, and management. Lancet 2000 Oct 7;356(9237):1255-9 Abstract available at
  4. Scally G, Donaldson LJ. The NHS's 50 anniversary. Clinical governance and the drive for quality improvement in the new NHS in England. BMJ 1998 Jul 4;317(7150):61-5 Abstract available at
  5. Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standard 6: Clinical Handover.; 2012 [cited 2017 May] Available from:
  6. Cockcroft DW, Gault MH. Prediction of creatinine clearance from serum creatinine. Nephron 1976;16(1):31-41 Abstract available at
  7. Clinical Oncology Society of Australia. Position statement. The use of complementary and alternative medicine by cancer patients.; 2013 [cited 2016 Sep] Available from:
  8. Council of Australian Therapeutic Advisory Groups (CATAG). Achieving effective medicines governance. Guiding principles for the roles and responsibilities of Drug and Therapeutics Committees in Australian public hospitals.; 2013 Available from:
  9. Du Bois D and Du Bois E. A formula to estimate the approximate surface area if height and weight be known. Arch Intern Med 1916;17:863–71.
  10. Council of Australian Therapeutic Advisory Groups (CATAG). Managing Medicines Access Programs: Guiding principles for the governance of Medicines Access Programs in Australian hospitals.; 2015 [cited 2016 Sep] Available from:
  11. National Institutes of Health. National Cancer Institute. [homepage on the internet]; 2017 Nov 17 Available from:
  12. Mosteller RD. Simplified calculation of body-surface area. N Engl J Med 1987 Oct 22;317(17):1098 Abstract available at

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