Not having sexual intercourse.
The adrenal glands are two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys. They make hormones that help control heart rate, blood pressure and the way the body uses food.
Advanced Care Directives
These are written documents meant to communicate the conditions under which individuals wish to receive or refuse certain treatment or stop life-support treatment, in the event that they are no longer legally competent to make their own decisions.
A group of cancer medicines that can have a strong effect on fertility.
Alkylating chemotherapy drugs
Alkylating chemotherapy drugs kill cancer cells by stopping them from dividing. Commonly used alkylating chemotherapy drugs include cyclophosphamide, busulphan, melphalan, mytomycin-C, and the platinum-based (cis-platinum, carboplatin) drugs. These drugs are used to treat slow-growing cancers.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
ADR is used to solve a problem between an employee and an employer through mediation or arbitration. In mediation, a neutral third party works with the employee and employer to find a solution. In arbitration, an arbitrator listens to the employer, employee and any witnesses and makes a decision for them.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in the job application process, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other privileges provided in the workplace.
These medicines stop the body from producing the hormone estrogen. Aromatase inhibitors are used to treat most women with breast cancer, because estrogen makes the tumor grow. Aromatase inhibitors can also be used to treat infertility.
Having no signs or symptoms of disease or illness.
A decrease in size or wasting away of cells, tissue, organs or muscle.
Autonomic nervous system
The autonomic nervous system is a branch of the peripheral nervous system that controls most body functions that happen automatically. Examples include: blood pressure, heart rate, sweating, bowel and bladder function.
The axilla is commonly known as the armpit. The lymph nodes that filter lymph fluid for the upper part of your body are located in the axilla. For the lower limbs, the filtering lymph nodes are located in the groin.
The long, hairlike extension of a nerve cell that carries impulses from the cell body to another nerve cell.
A psychological technique used to help individuals change negative behavior.
Bisphosphonates are medicines that can be used to treat osteoporosis. These drugs prevent cells that cause bone decay from being absorbed into the bones.
A biopsy is a procedure where cells or tissues are removed from the body so they can be examined under a microscope to look for unhealthy cells. During a biopsy, a doctor can remove an entire lump or remove a sample of tissue. A doctor can also use a needle to remove fluid or a small tissue sample. This procedure is called a needle biopsy.
The organ that stores urine produced by the kidneys.
The bowel is part of the digestive system and includes the small and large intestine. The small intestine is where most food is digested and absorbed into the body. The large intestine absorbs water into the body and prepares feces to leave the body.
Cancer is a group of diseases in which cells divide without control. Cancer cells can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.
A cataract is a thin film that grows inside a person's eyeball, causing vision to become cloudy.
The cervix is the part of the uterus which extends into the vagina. It is the passageway between the uterus and vagina. The cervix serves as a boundary between outside of the body and the inside of the body, keeping substances like sperm out of the uterus.
Treatment with anticancer drugs that destroy cancer cells.
Tiny rod-shaped pieces in the nucleus of a cell that hold the DNA code needed to build a human. Most human cells have 46 chromosomes including 22 pairs of autosomes and the X and Y sex chromosomes. Sperm cells have 23 chromosomes.
Refers to diseases and symptoms that continue or occur again and again for a long time without change.
The clitoris is a small organ above the vaginal entrance. It is the most sensitive part of the vulva. The clitoris swells during sexual arousal and sends messages of pleasure to the brain when touched.
A colostomy is a surgical incision into the colon to make an opening to the outside of the abdomen. This opening serves as a substitute anus, allowing the intestines to get rid of bodily waste until the colon can heal. Waste falls into a collection pouch outside of the body.
The exchange of thoughts, messages or information, by speech, signals, writing or behavior.
When a cancer survivor shows no signs or symptoms of cancer.
Counseling is a general term that refers to a range of services provided by a professional that are designed to reduce emotional distress. The counseling process involves identifying the causes of distress and using specific techniques to relieve and manage distress.
Cystisis is an inflammation of the bladder. Cystisis most commonly affects women and is caused by a bacterial infection.
Denial is a psychological term that describes an unconscious defense mechanism characterized by the refusal to acknowledge painful realities, thoughts or feelings.
Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA)
The material that spells out the code for each gene on a chromosome.
Donor insemination is a procedure where a woman uses sperm from a known or unknown donor, who is not going to be the social father of the child, to conceive a pregnancy. This process is usually achieved using intrauterine insemination.
When a man feels the pleasure of an orgasm but no liquid comes out of his penis. A dry orgasm can be a side effect of cancer treatments that affect the body's ability to produce semen.
Durable power of attorney
This document is also called a health care proxy. A durable power of attorney is a form of advance notice that allows an individual to give another individual legal authority to make decisions on his or her behalf. This document is used in situations where a person is not capable of making his or her own decisions.
Dyspareunia is pain in the pelvic region during or after sexual intercourse. This pain can be experienced by both men and women. Dyspareunia can also happen at any time during sex (for example, during penetration, erection or ejaculation).
Ejaculation is the time during a man's orgasm when several muscle spasms push his semen out of the opening at the end of his penis.
Emotional numbness is a symptom of emotional trauma, where an individual becomes detached from others, is unable to react appropriately emotionally or suppresses emotions.
Estrogen is a hormone made by the ovaries in women. This hormone helps control a woman's menstrual cycles (periods).
A doctor who specializes in treating problems involving the body's hormone system.
Trouble getting a firm erection or keeping the erection firm during sex.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The EEOC is the federal agency that enforces laws to protect employees from employment discrimination. It also oversees Alternative Dispute Resolution.
The Fallopian tube is the tube that connects each ovary to the uterus. This tube is the path that an egg must travel to get from the ovary to the uterus.
Family and Medical Leave Act
A federal law that provides job-protected unpaid medical leave for employees who qualify under this law.
Wastes from the digestive tract; feces.
The gastrointestinal system is, essentially, a long tube running through the body that works to digest food and then remove it from the body. This system includes the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, small intestine and large intestine.
Graft vs. host disease
Graft vs. host disease is a disease that may happen after you receive a bone marrow transplant. When someone going through treatment for cancer receives bone marrow from a donor, it is possible that the donor's white cells will attack parts of the receiver's body. The parts of the body commonly affected by GVHD are the skin, stomach and liver.
A gray is a unit of measure for the dose of radiation therapy given to a particular part of the body. It takes 6 gray to the testicles to cause permanent infertility in a man, and a dose of 2.5 to 7 gray to kill different types of cancer cells.
Physicians who treat cancers of the female reproductive organs (i.e. cervix, uterus, ovaries).
A doctor who specializes in treating problems in a woman's reproductive system.
Health care proxy
Also referred to as durable power of attorney, a health care proxy is a form of advance notice that assigns an individual to make decisions for a person who is not capable of making his or her own decisions.
Health care team
A health care team includes any doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, nutritionists or other health care providers you depend on for medical service, help and information.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was signed into law on August 21, 1996. This law includes important new protections for millions of working Americans and their families who have preexisting medical conditions or might suffer discrimination in health coverage based on their health.
A hormone is a chemical substance carried throughout the body in the blood where it stimulates or suppresses cell and tissue activity.
Hospice refers to programs that focus on quality of life for dying persons. Most hospice care is provided in the patient's own home. Bereavement follow-up services are offered to family members in the year after the death of their loved one.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition that can happen when your body produces too much thyroid hormone. Some of the symptoms are cramps, diarrhea, chest pain, weight loss and nervousness.
The hypothalamus is an area deep in the brain that is part of the limbic system. The hypothalamus controls sex hormones, sperm production, blood pressure, body temperature and more, by making and sending hormones through the bloodstream as messengers to the pituitary gland.
Hypothyroidism is a condition that can happen when your body doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone. Some of the symptoms are weakness, hair loss, constipation and feeling tired all the time.
An ileostomy is a surgical procedure that involves cutting the small intestine and connecting it to an opening on the outside of the abdomen. This procedure allows feces to leave the body through the opening instead of through the anus.
Ink that cannot be erased or washed away.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
A robotic microscope is used to inject one sperm into an immature female egg (oocyte) in order to produce an embryo, a fertilized egg.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
A very thin, flexible catheter is threaded through the cervix and a purified liquid, containing sperm cells, is injected directly into the woman's uterus. This procedure only lasts for a few minutes and is used to make conception easier.
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
A woman takes hormones to ripen multiple eggs in her ovaries, which are then taken out with a needle placed through the top of the vagina. In a laboratory, the eggs and sperm are combined to create embryos. These embryos will then be transferred back into the woman's uterus.
Irrigation is adding water to flush an area such as the bowel. This stimulates a bowel movement, similar to an enema.
The limbic system involves various structures of the brain that control emotions, hormonal secretions, mood, motivation, and pain and pleasure sensations.
This is a form of advance notice that specifies in writing what kind of medical care a person wants or does not want in the event of terminal illness or incapacity.
A lubricant is a slippery, water or oil-based substance, which may be used by women who feel pain during intercourse because of vaginal dryness. A water-based lubricant should be used with latex condoms (oil can weaken the latex).
A lumpectomy is surgery to remove a tumor and possibly some surrounding healthy tissue. The tissue is examined to determine if cancer cells have spread beyond the tumor.
Lung capacity is the measure of the amount of air that the lungs may contain at various points in the respiratory cycle.
Lymph fluid is the clear fluid that travels through the lymphatic system and carries cells that help fight infections and other diseases. It can also be called lymph.
Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped organs located along the vessels of the lymphatic system. Clusters of lymph nodes can be found in the neck, underarms, chest, abdomen, and groin. Lymph nodes store white blood cells that help fight infection. They also filter lymphatic fluid. Sometimes they are called lymph glands.
Lymph node dissection
Lymph node dissection is a surgery that removes lymph nodes so they can be examined to see whether they contain cancer. This surgery can also be called a lymphadenectomy.
Lymph node mapping
Lymph node mapping is a procedure to identify lymph nodes that contain tumor cells. Dyes and radioactive substances are usually injected into the area of the tumor to help the surgeon locate the lymph nodes. It can also be called sentinel lymph node mapping.
The lymph vessel is a thin tube that carries lymphatic fluid and white blood cells through the lymphatic system. It can also be called a lymphatic vessel.
The lymphatic system is a network of tissues, organs, vessels, and glands that produce, store, and carry cells that fight infection in the human body.
A mastectomy is surgery to remove a woman's breast. It is usually done to treat breast cancer. Sometimes women at high risk for breast cancer get mastectomies because they want to decrease their risk for breast cancer.
Melanoma is a type of cancer that begins in the cells that are responsible for the color of your skin, hair and eyes. Melanoma usually shows up as a dark spot on your skin or begins as a mole. Melanoma can also develop in the eye. Advanced melanomas can spread to other parts of the body, like your lymph nodes, lungs or liver.
The time in a woman's life when menstrual periods begin.
Menopause is when menstrual periods stop because the ovaries are producing low levels of hormones or almost none at all. Menopause is sometimes called the ""change of life.
The spread of cancer to another location in the body.
Metastatic cancer is cancer that spreads to a different part of the body. For example, if lung cancer spreads to the bone, it is called metastatic lung cancer, not bone cancer.
Midcycle is the approximate two days during a month when a woman has ovulated and her oocyte (immature egg) is traveling through her fallopian tubes, where it may meet a sperm and fertilization can take place. Midcycle usually happens around days 14 through 16, after a woman's first day of menstrual bleeding.
Modified radical mastectomy
A modified radical mastectomy is a surgery for breast cancer in which the breast, the lining over the chest muscles, and some or all of the nearby lymph nodes are removed. Sometimes the surgeon also removes part of the chest wall muscles.
Morphology is the shape of the sperm. The morphology is considered normal if at least 30 percent of the sperm have an ideal shape. Some labs use the Kruger scoring system, which is stricter, so that a sample would be called normal if only 14 percent of sperm cells had ideal shapes.
Motility is the percentage of sperm actively swimming around. At least 50% of the sperm should be motile. Only the sperm that are able to swim quickly to the egg and fertilize it are of any use when trying to conceive a pregnancy.
Multiple myeloma is cancer of the plasma cell. Plasma cells are found in lymphatic tissue and produce antibodies to help fight infection.
Mumps orchitis is a viral infection of the testicle that can occur when a man gets the mumps. It often scars the affected testicle, lowering a man's semen quality and possibly affecting his fertility.
Occupational therapists will evaluate the impact of the cancer or its treatment on your activities at home or at work. They can help you learn to manage your daily activities and incorporate any physical changes caused by cancer into your home and work life.
A physician who treats cancer. A clinical oncologist or radiotherapist is a doctor who treats cancer with radiation. A medical oncologist treats cancer with drugs.
An egg cell that contains 23 chromosomes (one X chromosome and 22 autosomes), which are considered immature. At birth, a woman's ovaries contain all the oocytes she will ever have. Each month about 50 oocytes start to grow and mature, but only one or two normally reach the fully, mature stage. A follicle (bubble of fluid on the surface of the ovary) releases the mature oocyte, which is gathered in by the fringy end of the fallopian tube. During the next two days of the woman's midcycle, the oocyte will travel through the tube. This is the time when the egg can be fertilized if it meets a sperm cell.
Organelles are small, specialized organs inside a cell that perform specific functions such as metabolizing energy or manufacturing protein.
An orgasm is caused by a series of involuntary contractions of the genital muscles. It is the physical peak of sexual excitement. It can involve strong feelings of pleasure. For men, it usually causes an ejaculation of semen from the penis.
Cells in your body that break down bone.
Surgically-created opening to the outside of the body.
Overactive bladder is characterized by involuntary bladder contractions that occur as your bladder is filling with urine. A person will have a sudden, intense desire to urinate.
Palliative care refers to maintaining high quality of life for those living with a serious illness. This type of care is focused on comfort and provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms. Palliative care also concerns end-of-life care, rather than curing a disease.
Paraneoplastic syndrome is a condition that develops as an effect of having a cancer, but is not caused directly by the tumor. It is often caused by the body's immune response against the cancer.
PD is a brain disorder associated with a loss of dopamine producing nerve cells deep in the brain. Because dopamine is associated with the planning, initiation and control of movement, PD affects function, mobility, balance and walking. Current research in PD is beginning to demonstrate that Parkinson's symptoms extend to non-motor functions like depression and apathy. Although there is no cure for PD, management of symptoms through medication and exercise is appearing to improve the quality of life of those living with the disease.
Usually described as a 50% reduction in the size of a tumor after treatment.
Pelvic floor muscles
Pelvic floor muscles are the group of muscles surrounding the opening of the bladder and urethra that help with bladder support and closure.
A penectomy is a surgery that removes part or all of the penis. It is usually used to treat penile cancer.
Penile injection therapy
Penile injection therapy is the use of special medication that creates an erection when injected (with a fine gauge needle) into the side of a man's penis before beginning sexual activity.
A penile suppository is a very small pill that, when inserted in a man's urinary tube, can cause an erection. It contains the same medication (prostaglandin E1) used in penile injection therapy. The man urinates and then uses a plastic applicator to place the suppository inside his urinary tube where it melts and gets into the spongy tissue inside the penis.
Phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors (PDE-5 inhibitors)
PDE-5 inhibitors are medicines like Viagra, Levitra or Cialis that can help men get erections by increasing the levels of certain chemicals in the tissues inside the penis. They promote blood flow. In women, PDE-5 inhibitors might help with vaginal lubrication and swelling, especially for women who have low estrogen and do not want to take replacement hormones.
A physical therapist can help you adjust to the physical changes in your body by teaching you exercises and physical activities that can help condition your muscles and restore strength and movement.
The pituitary gland is a small gland at the base of the brain. It is controlled by the hypothalamus, and in turn sends out messenger hormones that control sperm production in the testicles.
Premature menopause is defined as menopause that happens in women before the age of 45. Some chemotherapy medicines, radiation to the ovaries, or surgery to remove both ovaries can put a young woman into sudden, early menopause. Premature menopause can be temporary or permanent. Women in premature menopause due to cancer treatment tend to have more severe hot flashes and vaginal dryness than women who experience a gradual, natural menopause.
Immature follicles that make up your ovarian reserve.
Proprioception is the ability to sense the location of one joint in relation to another, which is essential for balance and coordinated movement.
The prostate is the gland that surrounds the neck of the bladder and urethra in men. It supplies seminal fluid, the milky liquid that contains sperm, for ejaculation.
The stage of growth when adult sexual body parts mature and fertility becomes possible.
This is a legal term and means an individual can perform the essential functions of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation.
Quality of Life
Quality of life refers to the level of satisfaction that an individual experiences in life. Factors include: economic status, physical and mental health, relationships with others, personal development, and recreation.
A physician who treats cancer using radiation.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill or shrink cancer cells. External radiation is the use of a machine to aim high-energy rays at the cancer from outside the body. Internal radiation therapy is the placement of a radioactive substance, such as cesium, iridium, or iodine, inside the body as close as possible to the cancer.
A radical cystectomy is a surgery to remove the bladder or nearby tissues and organs (such as the prostate gland, seminal vesicles and part or all of the urinary tube).
A radical hysterectomy is a surgery sometimes used to treat cervical cancer. It removes the cervix, the uterus and part of the vagina. A radical hysterectomy sometimes involves removing nearby lymph nodes, ovaries or the fallopian tubes.
A radical prostatectomy is a surgery to treat prostate cancer by removing the prostate gland and the two small glands behind it called the seminal vesicles. These three glands produce the liquid that makes up a man's semen.
A reasonable accommodation is a change to allow an individual to perform the essential functions of his or her job and enjoy equal benefits and privileges that an employer provides. Changes may include modifying work schedules, installing new work equipment, and restructuring job responsibilities.
Refers to the rectum.
The lower part of the large intestine where feces are stored.
Rheumatoid arthritis is arthritis of the joints and other organs. It is usually inflammatory and causes pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Something that increases an individual's chance of developing a certain disease or condition.
The scrotum is the sac of skin that contains the two testicles. The scrotum holds the testicles outside of the pelvis because sperm cells need a cooler temperature to develop well. The normal body temperature would be too high for the growing sperm.
A semen analysis is a test in which a sample of semen is collected very soon after ejaculation and is put under a microscope. The semen analysis usually includes at least three ""scores"" rating the quality of the semen sample by sperm count, motility and morphology. Often the amount of semen ejaculated is measured as well as its normal ability to solidify and then become more liquid again, soon after ejaculation.
The combination of sperm count, motility, and morphology.
The seminal vesicles are two tiny, wing-shaped glands just behind the prostate that make about 80% of the liquid in a man's semen. The seminal vesicles are usually removed along with the prostate in surgery to treat prostate or bladder cancer.
Sexual dysfunction is the inability to react emotionally and/or physically to sexual stimulation in a way expected of the average healthy person or according to one's own standards. Sexual dysfunctions may affect various stages in the sexual response cycle - desire, excitement and orgasm. Dysfunction can be caused by a wide range of psychological, physiological, or combined reasons.
The World Health Organization defines sexual health as ""the integration of the physical, emotional, intellectual, and social aspects of sexual being in ways that are positively enriching, and that enhance personality, communication, and love. Every person has a right to receive sexual information and to consider sexual relationships for pleasure as well as for procreation.
Sexuality is the knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, values and behaviors an individual has concerning sex. It includes the anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry of the sexual response system; identity, orientation, roles and personality; and thoughts, feelings and relationships. The expression of sexuality is influenced by ethical, spiritual, cultural and moral factors.
Speech and language pathologist/therapist
A speech therapist can evaluate your speech, language, cognitive-communication, and swallowing skills. He or she can help survivors who have difficulty talking or swallowing after treatment for cancer.
A sperm cell is a cell made in a man's testicles that contains 23 chromosomes (either an X or Y sex chromosome and 22 autosomes). The sperm cell has a tail, which helps it swim through the woman's reproductive system to meet an oocyte. The sperm has an oval head with a special ""cap"" that contains chemicals that can drill a hole in the oocyte, allowing the sperm to enter and fertilize the oocyte. Only one sperm can fertilize an egg.
Sperm count is the number of sperm present in a sample of semen. A normal sperm count is at least 20 million sperm in each milliliter of semen.
Spermatogonia are the cells in each testicle, which become active around puberty and start producing sperm cells. It takes about three months to produce a mature, human sperm.
Spiritual distress is when an individual is trying to find meaning in life or is questioning or feeling unsure about his or her spirituality. Spiritual distress can cause problems in that person's daily life.
Stress incontinence is characterized by urine leaks when applying pressure to a full bladder in activities such as coughing, laughing and exercising.
You are a survivor from the time you find out you have cancer, through your treatment and for the rest of your life.
Cancer survivorship describes the many experiences and emotions that are part of living life as a cancer survivor.
Systemic effects are aftereffects of cancer and cancer treatment that can affect many body systems and organs rather than being contained in one area or organ.
Tamoxifen is a hormone medicine used to prevent or treat breast cancer. It protects breast cells from the hormone estrogen. However, tamoxifen also acts like a weak estrogen in the vagina and uterus. Tamoxifen does not interfere with women's desire for sex and may actually add some vaginal lubrication for women who are in menopause.
Taxanes are a group of chemotherapy drugs that includes paclitaxel (Taxol) and docetaxel (Taxotere). These drugs are used to prevent the growth of cancer cells
Testicles are the twin organs in a man's scrotal sac. Each testicle contains areas producing sperm and special cells, which make testosterone, a hormone.
Testosterone is a hormone made in men's testicles and in women's ovaries and adrenal glands. Testosterone is released into the bloodstream where it travels to many parts of the body. It helps men and women feel desire for sex. A woman's body naturally produces less testosterone than a man's body.
The thyroid is a gland located at the base of the neck. The thyroid produces hormones to regulate metabolism and calcium balance in the body.
The tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.
Characterized by the frequent and sudden need to urinate.
A urologist is a physician specializing in treating problems involving male and female urinary functions or the male reproductive organs.
Surgically-created opening from the urinary system to the outside of the body.
A vacuum device is a cylinder with a pump attached that a man can place over his penis in order to create an erection firm enough for intercourse.
Vaginal moisturizers are gels that coat the lining of the vagina and help it retain moisture. They are used regularly, every several days, rather than being put on just for sexual activity. They also may help the vagina keep a normal acid level and prevent yeast infections.
A vaginectomy is a surgery to remove part or all of the vagina. Total vaginectomy is usually a treatment for vaginal cancer or advanced cancer of the cervix. Parts of the vagina may be removed as part of surgery to treat bladder or colorectal cancer. Vaginal reconstruction is often done at the same time.
Varicoceles are clusters of enlarged veins in a testicle. Varicoceles can lower sperm counts because they interfere with the temperature of the testicle.
Vinca alkaloids are anticancer drugs that slow down cancer cell growth by stopping cell division. They are made from the periwinkle plant.
The vulva is the sensitive area around the vaginal entrance that includes the outer lips, inner lips, clitoris, the openings of the urinary tube and vagina, and the skin between the vaginal opening and anal opening.
A vulvectomy is a surgery to remove part or all of the vulva. In a radical vulvectomy, all of the tissue is removed, including the inner and outer lips and the clitoris. A pelvic lymph node dissection is usually also done. In a partial vulvectomy, only the area around a tumor is removed.
Water-based lubricants are gels or slippery liquids that do not contain oil or petroleum jelly. They can be used to keep the vagina moist for sexual activity.
The Y chromosome is the male sex chromosome, shaped like a Y and containing a number of genes that impact men's fertility.