Children's Cancer Foundation Over 30 years of caring service
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:


A malignant tumour of smooth muscle, most commonly found in the uterus, stomach, small bowel, and at the base of the bladder.  It is the second most common sarcomas of soft tissues.  This tumour is rare in children, occurring most commonly in the bladder, prostate, and stomach.

Leucocyte (White blood cell)

Any blood cell that contains a nucleus.  There are three major subdivisions: granulocytes, lymphocytes and monocytes, which are involved in protecting the body against foreign substances and in antibody production.


Any of a group of malignant diseases in which the bone marrow and other blood-forming organs produce increased numbers of certain types of white blood cells.  Over-production of these white cells, which are immature or abnormal forms, suppresses the production of normal white cells, red cells, and platelets.  This leads to increased susceptibility to infection (due to neutropenia), anaemia, and bleeding (due to thrombocytopenia).  

Liver tumour

A malignant tumour of the liver.


Relating to the loin / region of the back between the ribs and the pelvis.

Lumbar puncture

A procedure of insertion of a hollow needle into the subarachnoid space of the lumbar region (usually between the third and fourth lumbar ventebrae) for diagnostic (to obtain a sample of cerebrospinal fluid for examination and analysis) or therapeutic (to inject a drug) purposes.


An abnormal cell present in the blood and the blood-forming organs in case of a type of leukaemia (lymphoblastic leukaemia).  It has a large nucleus with very scanty cytoplasm and was once thought to be the precursor of the lymphocyte.


A type of white blood cell (leucocyte), present in blood, the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus gland, gut wall, and bone marrow.  Lymphocytes provide immunity and occur in two forms: B-lymphocytes, the agents of the humoral immune system, which recognize antigens and produce specific antibodies against them; and T-lymphocytes, the agents of cell-mediated immune system, which secrete immunologically active compounds and assist B cells in their function.  T-lymphocytes can differentiate into helper, killer, or suppressor cells.


Any malignant tumour of lymph tissues, including Hodgkin’s disease.  There is a broad spectrum of malignancy, with prognosis ranging from a few months to many years.

Lymphoma, Hodgkin’s

A less common form of lymphoma.  Researchers know it is a cancer which arises from an abnormal lymphocyte.

Lymphoma, Primary Central Nervous System (PCNSL) (Reticulum cell sarcoma / Diffuse histolytic lymphoma / Microglioma)

A form of extranodal, high-grade non-Hodgkin B-cell neoplasm.  It originates in the brain, leptomeninges, spinal cord, or eyes; typically remains confined to the CNS; and rarely spreads outside the nervous system.

Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin’s

Any of various malignant lymphomas that are not classified as Hodgkin’s disease, have malignant cells derived from B cells, T cells, or natural killer cells, and are characterized especially by enlarged lymph nodes, fever, night sweats, fatigue, and weight loss.


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.