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| Michael P. Ehline

A Glossary of Cancer-Related Terms for Veterans

Knowing that you have cancer can turn everything upside down for you. Everything changes, and you can’t believe what hit you. However, if you are a veteran with an illness, nothing in the world could match your courage and bravery.

If you have faced weapon-carrying enemies face to face and lived years of your life in the middle of bombing, firing, and shooting, you can beat cancer too.

Here is a dictionary of cancer terms, so you know what everything means. This dictionary will also help you if you are someone who has just taken the voluntary job of helping a veteran with cancer.

Service-Related Cancer Dictionary – Common Cancer Terms

Please know that it is not a dictionary with all the cancer-related terms. However, it does contain the most essential terms. You can read the NCI dictionary of cancer terms for a list of all cancer-related terms.


It’s a condition characterized by abnormal growth of cells in a specific part of the body. Cancer is not limited to a particular region or organ and can damage just about any body part. Once cancer cells are produced, they start spreading to other locations fast.

National Cancer Institute

It’s an offshoot of the National Institutes of Health. National Cancer Institute is an agency created by the federal government to start, participate in, and facilitate cancer research initiatives.


When a condition gets worse very fast, you call it acute.


When abnormal production of cells results in a considerable lump or mass which can spread to other parts of the body, it’s called a tumor. It’s malignant when it applies and non-malignant when it doesn’t.

Radiation Therapy

It is one of the ways doctors treat cancer. They use x-rays to obliterate the cancer cells.


It’s like a prediction based on various factors and statistics that tell how much chance a patient has of recovering from the condition.


When doctors try to kill cancer by using a medication, this cancer treatment is referred to as chemotherapy.


This term is often used in studies and surveys and refers to a group that has gone through similar experiences and exposures. They are to be observed to study a particular illness or condition.

Burn Pit Exposure

Burn pits are used by the military to burn plastic, rubber, discarded weapons, ammunition, human waste, and medical waste through burning.


It’s a byproduct heavily present in agent orange and is notorious for causing several severe illnesses in Vietnam War Era veterans.

Particulate Matter

Particulate matter is tiny droplets of liquid, and sometimes even solids, that can be dangerous to health upon inhaling. Many particulates were found in the smoke released from burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.


It’s the amount patients spend from their pockets before the insurance provider jumps in. It’s a fixed amount each year.

Hormone Therapy

Doctors can either add hormones to the patients’ bodies or block the production of certain hormones for treating a condition. This is referred to as hormone therapy.

Event Free Survival

A common term used in research denotes a period in which a patient did not get cancer back after the treatment. It could also refer to non-worsening of the condition after the treatment.

VA Benefits

They are also known as VA disability benefits. They refer to healthcare coverage and monthly payments awarded by VA to a qualifying veteran diagnosed with cancer.


After observing the symptoms of a condition, doctors would require patients to go for a biopsy, in which they remove a small part of the tissue to test it for the presence of cancer cells.


As the name would suggest, it’s the use of sound waves for the diagnosis of cancer or any other illness’ diagnosis.


The doctor who specializes in treating cancer.

Presumptive Conditions

When a person or any veteran has a condition that VA accepts as presumptive, they don’t have to prove that it’s connected to their military services in a particular location or in a specific period.


When the primary purpose of an organization is to get donations from people to help those who could benefit from that money, this could be used to support their health and care in many ways, ranging from facilitating cancer research to creating new drugs or providing various free services for patients with cancer.

Palliative Care

One of the essential terms refers to an approach that strives to minimize suffering and improve the overall quality of life of a patient with a terminal illness. The process involves the use of a healthcare team, with each member of the healthcare team performing in harmony to give the utmost care to the patient.

VA Disability Rating

It’s a rating or score given by the VA to veterans with cancer based on their symptoms of the existing condition to decide how much benefit they will receive.

Non-Profit Organization

Such an organization’s purpose is to provide social benefit to everyone who is a part of society. It does not operate for profit. A cancer nonprofit may require donations or donate to arrange for and use its resources to help cancer patients. These resources include information, caregiver provision, free treatment-related services, research, and more.

Cancer Treatment

Doctors use any treatment to treat cancer to eliminate or stop it from growing.

These are the cancer terms you will encounter quite often. We will continue to add more words to this dictionary for the understanding of those who are not aware of them. Once again, these are not all definitions. If you want more terms and definitions, you can look for them in NCI dictionary of cancer terms.

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