Definitions provided by:
Brain Cancer Glossary

Terms used to explain Brain Cancer can sometimes be confusing. To help you fully understand the articles and features related to this very important health topic, we have compiled a glossary of terms that can help.


Pronunciation: \ˌas-trə-sī-ˈtō-mə\

Function: noun
pl -mas
also -ma*ta
Pronunciation: \-mət-ə\
: a nerve-tissue tumor composed of astrocytes


Pronunciation: \bi-ˈnīn\

Function: adjective

1: of a mild type or character that does not threaten health or life <benign malaria> <a benign tumor> compare malignant 1
2: having a good prognosis : responding favorably to treatment <a benign psychosis>


Pronunciation: \ˈbī-ˌäp-sē\

Function: noun
pl -sies
: the removal and examination of tissue, cells, or fluids from the living body

Blood-brain Barrier

blood–brain barrier
Function: noun
: a naturally occurring barrier created by the modification of brain capillaries (as by reduction in fenestration and formation of tight cell-to-cell contacts) that prevents many substances from leaving the blood and crossing the capillary walls into the brain tissues abbr. BBB

Brain Stem

brain stem
Pronunciation: \-ˌstem\

Function: noun
: the part of the brain composed of the midbrain, pons, and medulla oblongata and connecting the spinal cord with the forebrain and cerebrum


Pronunciation: \sə-ˈrē-brəl, ˈser-ə-\

Function: adjective

1: of or relating to the brain or the intellect
2: of, relating to, affecting, or being the cerebrum <cerebral blood flow> <cerebral toxoplasmosis>


Pronunciation: \-ˈther-ə-pē\

Function: noun
pl -pies
: the use of chemical agents in the treatment or control of disease or mental disorder


Pronunciation: \ˌkrā-nē-ˈät-ə-mē\

Function: noun
pl -mies

1: the operation of cutting or crushing the fetal head to effect delivery <fetal craniotomies…performed to save the life of the mother R. E. Frisch>
2: surgical opening of the skull


Pronunciation: \-ˈsef-ə-ləs\

Function: noun
pl -li
Pronunciation: \-ˌlī\
: see: hydrocephalus


Pronunciation: \ˌem-(ˌ)är-ˈī\

Function: noun
: see: magnetic resonance imaging; also: a procedure in which magnetic resonance imaging is used


Pronunciation: \mə-ˈlig-nənt\

Function: adjective

1: tending to produce death or deterioration <malignant malaria> ; esp: tending to infiltrate, metastasize, and terminate fatally <malignant tumors> compare benign 1
2: of unfavorable prognosis : not responding favorably to treatment <psychotic reactions with a malignant trend>


Pronunciation: \ˈmī-ə-lən\

Function: noun
: a soft white somewhat fatty material that forms a thick myelin sheath about the protoplasmic core of a myelinated nerve fiber


Pronunciation: \ˈmī-ə-lə-ˌgram\

Function: noun

1: a differential study of the cellular elements present in bone marrow usu. made on material obtained by sternal biopsy
2: a radiograph of the spinal cord made by myelography


Pronunciation: \pə-ˈt(y)ü-ə-ˌter-ē\

Function: adjective

1: of or relating to the pituitary gland
2: caused or characterized by secretory disturbances of the pituitary gland <a pituitary[1] dwarf>

Radiation Therapy

radiation therapy
Function: noun
: see: radiotherapy


Pronunciation: \ˈshənt\

Function: transitive verb
: to divert by or as if by a shunt; esp: to divert (blood) from one part to another by a surgical shunt

Audio pronunciation for hear it again
Having trouble hearing a pronunciation?
Click here to listen with your default audio player.
© 2011 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Inc.

We'd like your feedback.

Are you a cancer patient, cancer survivor or a caregiver for a cancer patient? Please complete a very brief survey to improve patient care.

Thank you!

A survey will be presented to you after you finish viewing our Brain Cancer content.

Take a Personalized Health Test