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National Collaborating Centre for Cancer (UK). Diagnosis and Management of Metastatic Malignant Disease of Unknown Primary Origin. Cardiff (UK): National Collaborating Centre for Cancer (UK); 2010 Jul. (NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 104.)

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Diagnosis and Management of Metastatic Malignant Disease of Unknown Primary Origin.

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Appendix 4Glossary


A malignant tumour originating in glandular tissue.


Disease of a gland.

Adjuvant treatment

Treatment as a follow-up to surgery designed to remove any microscopic traces of tumour which may have been left behind.


An abnormal accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity.


Removal of a sample of tissue from the body to allow diagnosis of a disease.


The procedure in which a cylindrical fibreoptic instrument is inserted into the airway that allows the visual examination of the lower airways.


Cancer arising from the lining tissue that covers all body organs.


A chemical that kills tumour cells.


The procedure in which a long, flexible, fibreoptic instrument is used to view the entire inner lining of the colon and the rectum.


The presence of more than one disease or health condition in an individual at a given time.

Computed tomography

A diagnostic imaging technique that uses X-rays and a computer to produce a detailed picture of a cross section of the body.

Confirmed carcinoma of unknown primary

Metastatic epithelial or neuro-endocrine malignancy identified on the basis of final histology, with no primary detected despite a selected screen of investigations, specialist review and further specialised tests as appropriate.


The study of cells, their origin, structure, function and pathology.


The study of the shape of cells.

Decision aids

A variety of resources which can help patients participate in decisions about their health for example information booklet, CD-ROM.


Visual examination of interior structures of the body with a flexible fibreoptic tube.


The scientific study of blood and blood-forming tissues.


An examination of the cellular characteristics of a tissue using a microsope.


A technique that uses antibodies and dyes to identify specific molecules in tissues which are analysed by a pathologist using a microscope.


A pathologic change in body tissue.


An abnormal enlargement of the lymph nodes.

Magnetic resonance imaging

A diagnostic imaging technique that uses powerful electromagnets, radio waves and a computer to produce well-defined images of the body’s internal structures.

Malignancy of undefined primary origin (MUO);

Metastatic malignancy identified on the basis of a limited number of tests, without a probable primary site, prior to comprehensive investigation.


Cancerous cells which can invade into nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.


A soft tissue X-ray of the breast which may be used to evaluate a breast lump or to identify a tumour in the breast which cannot be felt.


Substances found in increased amounts in the blood, other body fluids or tissues which may be associated with the presence of a certain type of cancer in the body.


A method of summarising previous research by reviewing and combining the results of a number of different clinical trials.


Spread of cancer away from the primary site to somewhere else, usually via the bloodstream or the lymphatic system.

Multidisciplinary team

A team with members from different healthcare professions (including for example, oncology, pathology, radiology, nursing).


Hidden or difficult to observe.


The study and treatment of cancers.


A doctor who specialises in treating cancer.


Anything which serves to alleviate symptoms due to the underlying cancer but is not expected to cure it.


Microlaryngoscopy, pharyngoscopy, rigid oesophagoscopy and examination of the nasopharynx.


A doctor who examines tissues and cells using a microscope.


The method of obtaining a tissue sample through the skin.

Pleural effusions

Occurs when fluid collects in the pleural space.

Positron emission tomography – computed tomography

A diagnostic imaging technique which uses a radioactive tracer injected into a vein to show areas of increased tissue metabolism. The most commonly used tracer in oncology is fluorine-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG).


A prediction of the likely outcome or course of a disease.

Provisional carcinoma of unknown primary

Metastatic epithelial or neuro-endocrine malignancy identified on the basis of histology/ cytology, with no primary detected despite a selected initial screen of investigations, prior to specialist review and possible further specialised investigations.


A treatment for cancer that uses high energy ionising radiation (usually X-rays) to kill cells.

Randomised controlled trials

A clinical trial in which subjects are randomised to different groups for the purpose of studying the effect of a new intervention, for example a drug or other therapy.


A malignant tumour arising from connective tissues.


A procedure whereby a short and rigid or slightly longer and flexible fibreoptic tube is inserted into the rectum to examine the lower portion of the large intestine/bowel.

Supportive care

Support for the patient and their family to cope with cancer and the treatment of it throughout the cancer pathway. It helps the patient to maximise the benefits of treatment and to live as well as possible with the effects of the disease.

Systematic review

A review of the literature carried out in order to address a defined question and using quantitative methods to summarise the results.

Systemic treatment

Treatment, usually given by mouth or by injection, that reaches and affects tumour cells throughout the body rather than targeting a specific area.


Opening the chest wall.


A process in which patients are sorted according to their need for care.


An imaging method in which high-frequency sound waves a re used to outline a part of the body.

Copyright © 2010, National Collaborating Centre for Cancer.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the publisher or, in the case of reprographic reproduction, in accordance with the terms of licenses issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside the terms stated here should be sent to the publisher at the UK address printed on this page.

The use of registered names, trademarks etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant laws and regulations and therefore for general use.

Bookshelf ID: NBK82169


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