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Children's Palliative Care Foundation
Children's Palliative Care Foundation

About Childhood Cancer

About Childhood Cancer

Diagnosis & Treatment Glossary

Here are some of the common terms used in the diagnosis and treatment of childhood cancer.


Please select an alphabet to view a list of terms starting with that letter:

  1. Describing a disease of rapid onset and severe symptoms.
  2. Describing any intense symptom, such as severe pain.
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)

Lymphocytic leukaemia that is marked by an abnormal increase in the number of lymphoblasts, that is characterised by rapid onset and progression of symptoms which include fever, anaemia, pallor, fatigue, appetite loss, bleeding, thrombocytopenia, granulocytopenia, bone and joint pain, and enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen, and that occurs chiefly during childhood.

Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)

Myeloid leukaemia that is marked by an abnormal increase in the number of myeloblasts especially in bone marrow and blood, that is characterised by symptoms similar to those of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and that may occur either in childhood or adulthood.


A protein that is formed in the liver and yolk sac of the fetus and is present in the amniotic fluid and secondarily in maternal blood. 

Alternative therapy

A variety of therapeutic or preventive health care practices, such as homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, and herbal medicine, that do not follow generally accepted medical methods and may not have a scientific explanation for their effectiveness.


A reduction in the quantity of the oxygen-carrying pigment haemoglobin in the blood.


Loss of feeling or sensation in a part or all of the body. 


X-ray examination of blood vessels.  A dye that is opaque to X-ray is injected into the artery and a rapid series of X-ray films is taken. 


A substance produced by or derived from a microorganism, that destroys or inhibits the growth of other microorganisms. 


The withdrawal of fluid from the body by means of suction using an instrument called an aspirator.

Astrocyte (Astroglial cell)

A type of cell with numerous sheet-like processes extending from its cell body, found throughout the central nervous system.


A brain tumour derived from non-nervous cells (glia), which - unlike the neurons - retain the ability to reproduce themselves by mitosis. 


Oxford Concise English-Chinese Medical Dictionary (Second Edition 2000), Oxford University Press
Churchill’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary (Fourth Edition 2004), Longman
Online Merriam Webster dictionary at www.merriam-webster.com



Special thanks should be given to Mrs. Rosita Lie, Dr. Alan K.S. Chiang, Dr. Ha Shau-yin, Dr. Vincent Lee, Dr. Li Chi-keung, Dr. Li Chi-kong, Dr. Rever Li Chak-ho and Dr. Yuen Hui-leung for editorial review.