Medical Terminology for Cancer

© Copyright 1996-2013

15: Abbreviations and Acronyms for Oncology

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List of Abbreviations
List of Acronyms of Cancer Organisations
The Female Reproductive Organs
Combined List of Abbreviations and Acronyms


This section aims to provide a reference list of abbreviations and acronyms that are frequently used within oncology. As well as many widely used medical abbreviations this text includes abbreviations that have meaning only within oncology, sub-specialities or even particular organisations. No definitive list of standard abbreviations exists therefore it is important to understand the context in which they have been used in. For example "PNET" usually refers to a type of brain tumour, however, within orthopaedic oncology the same abbreviation has been applied to a form of sarcoma. You may also find it useful to have access to a medical dictionary or text-book that contains a list of common abbreviations used within the wider field of medicine.

This list of has been compiled over a number of years and abbreviations have been collected from a wide range of sources including journal articles and conference presentations.

Acknowledgements Thanks to the following who have contributed additional abbreviations to this list; Jane Evans, Kevin Fishwick, Anna Mitchell, Moira Stewart and the staff of the former UKCCSG Data Centre.

List of Abbreviations


5-FU5-Fluorouracil (anti cancer drug)
6-MP6-Mercaptopurine (anti cancer drug)
6-TG6-Thioguanine (anti cancer drug)
AAAnaplastic Anaemia
ABCAdvanced Breast Cancer
ABMTAutologous bone marrow transplant
ADRAdverse Drug Reaction
AEAdverse event
AFPAlphafetoprotein - eg. expressed by germ cell tumours and other cancers
AIDSAcquired immune deficiency syndrome
ALATAlanine aminotransferase / alinine transaminase
ALCLAnaplastic Large-cell Lymphoma
ALLAcute lymphoblastic leukaemia
ALTAlanine Aminotransferase
AMKLacute megakaryocytic leukemia
AMLAcute Myeloid leukaemia
ANCAbsolute neutrophil count
ANEDAlive no evidence of disease
ANLLAcute non-lymphatic leukaemia
ARMSAlveolar rhabdomyosarcoma
ASRAge Standardised Rate (Incidence)
AUCArea under the curve
B-ALLB-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia
BAERBrainstem Auditory Evoked Responce
BCCBasal Cell Carcinoma
BID / BDTwice a day (bis in die)
BMBone Marrow
BMBlood Monitoring (eg for glucose)
BMJBritish Medical Journal
BMRBasal Metabolic Rate
BMTBone Marrow Transplant
BNFBritish National Formulary
BPBlood pressure
BRMBiological Response Modifier
BSABody Surface Area
BSEBreast Self Examination
C/OComplaining of
C/WContinue With
C1 - C7Cervical vertebrae (spine eg. C7 = seventh cervical vertebra)
CaCancer; carcinoma
cALLCommon ALL
CATComputerised axial tomography (scan)
ccCubic centimeter
CCFCongestive Cardiac Failure
CCRContinuous complete remission
CEACarcinoembryonic Antigen (tumour marker)
CGHComparative Genomic Hybridisation - cytogenetics method
CGLChronic Granulocytic Leukaemia
cGyCenti Gray (unit of radiation)
CHFCongestive heart failure
CLLChronic lymphocytic Leukaemia
cmcentimeter - 0.01 meters
CMLChronic myeloid leukaemia
CMMLchronic myelomonocytic leukemia
CMVCytomegalo virus
CNSCentral nervous system - the brain and spine
CPMCyclophosphamide (anti cancer drug)
CPRCardio pulmonary resuscitation
CRComplete remission / complete response
CRAClinical Research Associate
CRCColorectal carcinoma
CRFCase Report Forms
CRFChronic renal failure
CROContract Research Organisation
CSFCerebro spinal fluid
CSFColony-stimulating Factor
CTComputerised axial tumography (scan)
CTCCommon Toxicity Criteria
CTCLCutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma
CTOClinical Trials Office
CTXClinical Trials Exemption
CUPCancer of Unknown Primary / Carcinoma of Unknown Primary
CVACardiovascular Accident (stroke)
CVCCentral venous catheters
CVPCentral Venous Pressure
CXRChest X-Ray
D/HDrug History
D/WDiscussed With
DCISDuctal Carcinoma In Situ - type of breast cancer
DDAVPDesmopressin test for urine osmolality
DDxDifferential diagnosis
DFIDisease Free Interval
DFSDisease Free Survival - time without disease prior to relapse or last follow-up
DIDiabetes Incipidus
dldeciletre - 0.01 litres
DLBCLDiffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma
DLCLDiffuse large-cell lymphoma
DLSDate last seen
DLTDose limiting toxicity - determined by phase 1 studies
DMCData Monitoring Commitee
DNADeoxyribonucleic acid
DNADid Not Attend (clinic)
DNRDo Not Resusitate
DOADead on Arival
EBMEvidence-Based Medicine
EBVEpstein-Barr Virus
ECGElectrocardiogram - heart scan
EDTAethylendiaminetetraacetic acid - used in measuring kidney function
EEGElectroencephalogram - brain scan
EFSEvent Free Survival - time from diagnosis to defined events (eg relapse or deat
EJCEuropean Journal of Cancer
EMCExtraskeletal Myxoid Chondrosarcoma
EMUOEarly Morning Urine Osmolality (evaluating urine concentration)
ENTEar nose throat
ESRErythrocyte Sedimentation rate
ETSEnvironmental Tobacco Smoke
F/HFamily history
FABFrench American and British classification scheme for leukaemia
FBCFull Blood Count
FEVForced expectorant volume (a lung test)
FFAFor Further Appointment
FIGOFederation Internat. Gyn. Obst. (FIGO Gynaecological staging system)
FISHFlourescence in situ Hybridisation
FMTCFamilial Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma
FNAFine Needle Aspiration - a type of biposy using a thin needle (or FNAB)
FUFollow up
FVCForced Vital Capacity
ggram - unit of weight
G-CSFGranulocyte colony stimulating factor promotes production of white blood cells
GAGeneral Anaesthetic
GCPGood Clinical Practice (guidelines)
GCTGerm Cell Tumour
GCTGiant Cell Tumour Context: bone tumours
GFRGromerular filtration rate
GISTGastrointestinal Stromal Tumours
GM-CSFGranulocyte and macrophage colony stimulating factor
GPRGood Partial Remission
GvHDGraft versus Host Disease
GyGrays (units of radiation)
H&EHematoxylin and Eosin (stain)
H/OHistory of
HCCHepatocellular Carcinoma
HCGHuman Chorionic Gonadotrophin (hormone)
HCLHairy Cell Leukaemia
HDHodgkin's Disease (lymphoma)
HDHigh dose
HDCHigh Dose Chemotherapy
HIVHuman Immunodeficiency Virus
HL-AHuman Leukocyte Associated antigens (HL-A matching for BMT)
HNSCCHead and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma
HNPCCHereditary NonPolyposis Colorectal Cancer
HPVHuman Papilloma Virus - implicated in some gynacological cancers
HRHigh risk
HRTHormone replacement therapy
HTLVHuman T-cell leukemia-lymphoma virus
I-131Radioactive Iodine
ICDInternational Classification of Diseases (coding system)
ICDOInternational Classification of Diseases for Oncology (coding system)
ICFIntercellular fluid
ICUIntensive Care Unit
IMIntramuscular - into a muscle
IMRTIntensity-Modulated Radiotherapy
INSSInternational Neuroblastoma Staging System
ITUIntensive Therapy Unit
IUInternational units
IVIntravenous - into a vein
IVPIntravenous Pyelogram - type of Xray after injection with iodine dye
JCOJournal of Clinical Oncology
kgKilogram - a thousand grams
lliter - unit of volume
L1 - L5Lumbar vertebrae 1 - 5 (spine eg. L1 = 1st lumbar vertebra)
LCHLangerhans cell histiocytocis
LCISLobular Carcinoma In Situ - type of breast cancer
LDHLactic dehydrogenase -high levels correlate with tumour volume in some cancers
LMMLentigo Maligna Melanoma
LMPLow Malignant Potential (context: ovarian tumours)
LNLymph Node
LPLumbar puncture
LVEFLeft Ventricular Fjection Fraction - a heart function test
LVSFLeft Ventricular Shortening Fraction - a heart function test
mmeter (unit of length)
M/HMedical history
MAB - mAbMonoclonal antibody
MDRMulti drug resistant
MDSMyelo dysplastic syndrome
MENMultiple Endocrine Neoplasia - (familial) a.k.a. FMEN
mEq/lmilliequivalent per liter
metsMetastases (where the tumour has spread to secondary sites)
mgmilligram - 0.001 gram
MIMiocardial Infarction
mIBGRadioactive Iodine Metaidobenzoguanidine (mIBG scans or mIBG therapy).
mlmillilitre 0.001 liter
MMMalignant Melanoma
mmmillimeter - 0.001 meters
MMMalignant Myelanoma
MMMultiple Myeloma
MPNSTMalignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumour
MPOMedical and Pediatric Oncology (journal)
MRIMagnetic resonance imaging (scan)
MRTMalignant Rhabdoid Tumour
MSSUMid stream specimen urine
MTDMaximum tolerated dose - phase 1 studies
MTXMethotrexate (anti cancer drug)
MUDMatched Urelated Donor - for bone marrow transplant
N/VNausea and vomiting
NADNo Abnormality Detected
NBCCSNevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome
NBMNil by mouth
NEDNo evidence of disease
ngnanogram - 0.000000001 gram
NHLNon Hodgkin's Lymphoma
NKNatural Killer cells (large lymphocytes, part of the immune system)
NKNot known
NMNodular Melanoma
NMRNuclear magnetic resonance (scan)
NMSCNon Melanoma Skin Cancer
NOSNot otherwise specified (see ICDO)
NPCNasopharyngeal Carcinoma
NRSTSNon-Rhabdomyosarcoma Soft Tissue Sarcoma
NSCLCNon-small cell lung cancer
NSENeuron-Specific Enolase - a neural marker
NSRNon significant result
NSRNormal Sinus Rhythem
O/EOn Examination
ONBOlfactory Neuroblastoma
OSOverall Survival
OSOsteogenic sarcoma (context bone tumours)
PBSCPeripheral Blood Stem Cell (see PBSCT)
PBSCHPeripheral Blood Stem Cell Harvest
PBSCRPeripheral Blood Stem Cell Rescue (transplant)
PBSCTPeripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplant
PDProgressive disease
PDQPhysician's Data Query (CancerNet)
PETPositron Emmission Tomography- a scan after a small radioactive injection.
PETPancreatic Endocrine Tumor
PFSProgression Free Survival
pgpicogram - 0.000000000001 gram
pHhydrogen-ion concentration - acid / alkaline
PHPast History
PLBPrimary Lymphoma of Bone
PNETPrimitive neuroectodermal tumour Context: CNS tumours
PNETPeripheral neuroectodermal tumour Context: Bone tumours - see Ewing's tu
PNSPeripheral nervous system - nervous system outside the brain and spine.
PRPartial Responce / Partial Remission
PRper rectum
prnas required
prnwhenever necessary (pro re nata)
PSAprostate-specific antigen - PSA test used in screening for prostate cancer
PUDPeri-Urethral Diathermy (associated with superficial bladder cancer)
QALYQuality-Adjusted Life Year
qidFour times a day (quater in die)
QoLQuality of Life
RBCRed blood cell / red blood count
RCCRenal Cell Carcinoma
RCTRandomised Controlled Trial
RFSRelapse free survival - Time from diagnosis to relapse or death.
RIGSRadioimmunoguided surgery
RNAribonucleic acid
RTPCRReverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction
SASurface area (see BSA)
SAESerious Adverse Event
SCCSquamous Cell Carcinoma
SCLCSmall cell lung cancer
SDStable Disease
SDVSource Data Verification
SGOTSerum glutamic oxalacetic transaminase - a liver function test
SGPTSerum glutamic pyruvic transaminase - a liver function test
SHSocial history
SHOSenior House Officer
SIADHSyndrome of Inappropriate Antidiuretic Hormone
SNPSingle Nucleotide Polymorphism
SOBShort of breath
SSMSuperficial Spreading Melanoma
T1 - T12Thoracic vertebrae 1-12 (spine eg. T10 = tenth thoracic vertibra)
TAMstumour-associated macrophages
TBITotal body irradiation
TCCTransitional Cell Carcinoma (usually bladder cancer)
tds / tidThree times a day (ter in die)
TNFTumour Necrosis Factor
TNMStaging system - primary tumour
TPNtotal parenteral nutrition
U&EsUrea and Electrolites
UAUrine analysis
ugmicrogram - 0.000001 gram
ULNUpper Limits of Normal
URTIUpper respiratory tract infection
USUltasound (scan)
UTIUrinary Tract Infection
UVRUltra Violet Radiation
VEFVentricular ejection fraction (tests lung function)
VM-26Teniposide (anti cancer drug)
VMAVanillylmandelic Acid
VP-16Etoposide (anti cancer drug)
WBCWhite blood cell count
WCCWhite cell count
WMWaldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia
XRTRadiotherapy (external)
YSTYolk sac tumour - (aka. germ cell tumour)

List of Acronyms of Cancer Organisations


AACRAmerican Association for Cancer Research
ABPIAssociation of the British Pharmaceutical Industry
ABTAAmerican Brain Tumour Association
ACDMAssociation for Clinical Data Management
ACRPIAssociation of Clinical Research for the Pharmaceutical Industry
ACSAmerican Cancer Society
AIOMItalian Association for Medical Oncology
AIROAssociazione Italiana di Radioterapia Oncologica
AJCCAmerican Joint Committee on Cancer
ASCOAmerican Society of Clinical Oncology
ASHAmerican Society for Hematology
ASTROAmerican Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology
BACRBritish Association for Cancer Research
BASOBritish Association of Surgical Oncologists
BMABritish Medical Association
BNLIBritish National Lymphoma Investigation
BOABritish Oncology Association
BODMABritish Oncology Data Managers Association (UK)
CALGBCancer and Leukemia Group B (USA)
CCGChildren's Cancer Group (USA)
CCRGChildren's Cancer Research Group (Oxford, UK)
CCSCanadian Cancer Society
COGChildren's Oncology Group (USA)
COSCanadian Oncology Society
CRCCancer Research Campaign (UK)
CSMCommittee on Safety of Medicines (UK)
EACREuropean Association for Cancer Research
EANOEuropean Association for NeuroOncology
EBMTEuropean Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation
ECOGEastern Cooperative Group (USA)
EOIEuropean Osteosarcoma Intergroup
EORTCEuropean Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer
ESOEuropean School of Oncology
ESTROEuropean Society for Therapeutic Radiation and Oncology
FDAFood and Drug Administration (USA)
FECSFederation of European Cancer Societies
GMCGeneral Medical Council (UK)
GPOHGesellschaft fur Padiatrische Onkologie und Hamatologie (German Paed. Onc Group)
IACRInternational Association of Cancer Registries
IARCInternational Agency for Research on Cancer
IASLCInternational Association for the Study of Lung Cancer
ICAREInternational Cancer Alliance for Research and Education (ICARE)
ICCCPOInternational Confederation of Childhood Cancer Parent Organisations
ICCGInternational Collaborative Cancer Group
ICCPOIcelandic Childhood Cancer Parent Organisation
ICHInternational Conference on Harmonization (GCP)
ICRFImperial Cancer Research Fund (UK)
IESSIntergroup Ewing's Sarcoma Study (USA)
IMFInternational Myeloma Foundation
INFAInternational Neurofibromatosis Association
IPSOInternational Society of Pediatric Surgical Oncology
ISNCCInternational Society of Nurses in Cancer Care
IWMFInternational Waldenstrom's Maroglubulinemia Foundation
LRECLocal Research Ethics Committee (UK)
LRFLeukaemia Research Fund (UK)
LRFALymphoma Research Foundation of America
MCAMedicines Control Agency (UK)
MRCMedical Research Council (UK)
MRECMulti-centre Research Ethics Committee (UK)
NAACCRNorth American Association of Central Cancer Registries
NABCONational Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations
NCCFNational Childhood Cancer Foundation (USA)
NCINational Cancer Institue (USA)
NCICNational Cancer Institute of Canada
NCRANational Cancer Registrars Association (USA)
NECCRNorth of England Children's Cancer Research Unit
NKCANational Kidney Cancer Association (USA)
NNFFNational Neurofibromatosis Foundation (USA)
NORDNational Organization for Rare Disorders (USA)
NRCTNational Registry of Childhood Tumours (UK) held by the CCRG at Oxford
OECIOrganization of European Cancer Institutes
ONSOncology Nursing Society (USA)
PONFPaediatric Oncology Nurses Forum (UK)
SCTNScottish Cancer Therapy Network
SEERSurveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (USA)
SFOPFrench Paediatric Oncology Scociety
SGDMStudy Group on Data Management (EORTC)
SGOSociety of Gynecologic Oncologists
SIOPInternational Society of Paediatric Oncology
SNLGScottish and Newcastle Lymphoma Group
SPOHNCSupport for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer
SWOGSouthwest Oncology Group (USA)
UICCUnion Internationale Contre le Cancer - International Union Against Cancer
UKACRUK Association of Cancer Registeries
UKCCCRUK Coordinating Committee for Cancer Research
UKCCRGUK Children's Cancer Research Group (Oxford)
WHOWorld Health Organisation

The Female Reproductive Organs

Main Contents of this Guide Alphabetical Index

This guide by Simon Cotterill

First created 4th March 1996
Last modified: 1st February 2014

Medical Terminology for Cancer

What is Cancer?
Basic Terms
Components of Terminology

Body Systems

© 1996-2013