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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:


The basic unit of genetic material, which is carried at a particular place on a chromosome.

Gene mutation

Mutation due to fundamental intramolecular reorganisation of a gene.

Gene therapy

Treatment directed to curing genetic disease by introducing normal genes into patients to overcome the effects of defective genes, using techniques of genetic engineering.

Genetic engineering (Recombinant DNA technology)

The techniques involved in altering the characteristics of an organism by inserting genes from another organism into its DNA.

Germ cell (Gonocyte)

Any of the embryonic cells that have the potential to develop into spermatozoa or ova.  The term is also applied to any of the cells undergoing gametogenesis and to the gametes themselves.


A malignant tumor that originates from undifferentiated embryonic germ cells.

Glia (Neuroglia)

The special connective tissue of the central nervous system, composed of different cells, including the oligodendrocytes, astrocytes, ependymal cells, and microglia, with various supportive and nutritive functions.  Glial cells outnumber the neurons by between five and ten to one, and make up some 40% of the total volume of the brain and spinal cord.


Any tumour of non-nervous cells (glia) in the nervous system.  The term is sometimes also used for all tumours that arise in the central nervous system, including astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas, medulloblastomas, and ependymomas.  Tumours of low grade malignancy produce symptoms by pressure on surrounding structures; those of high-grade malignancy may be invasive.

Glucocorticoid (Corticosteroid/Corticoid)

See Corticosteroid (Corticoid) -

Any steroid hormone synthesised by the adrenal cortex.

Gonadotrophin (Gonadotrophic hormone)

Any of several hormones synthesised and released by the pituitary gland that act on the testes or ovaries (gonads) to promote production of sex hormones and either sperms or ova.


Any organ, tissue, or object used for transplantation to replace a faulty part of the body.

Graft versus host disease (GVHD)

A condition that occurs following bone marrow transplantation and sometimes blood transfusion, in which lymphocytes from the graft attack specific tissues in the host.


Any of a group of white blood cells that, when stained with Romanowsky stains, are seen to contain granules in their cytoplasm.  They can be subclassified on the basis of the colour of the stained granules into neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils.


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.