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Jargon buster

A comprehensive list of the terms and words you will come across in relation to brain tumours.



Doctor who specialises in children's illnesses.


Swelling of the optic disc at the back of the eye. It can be seen by opticians during normal eye examinations. It can be caused by raised intracranial pressure and can be a symptom of a brain tumour.

Parietal lobe

The part of each cerebral hemisphere of the brain directly behind the frontal lobe at the top of the brain. It consists of two areas: the sensory cortex, which receives information from our senses, such as touch, pain and pressure; and the motor cortex, which helps control how we move our limbs and body in the space we are in (spatial awareness).


Awareness and understanding of our environment.

Peripheral nervous system

The part of the nervous system that includes the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. They connect the central nervous system to other parts of the body. Abbreviated to PNS.

Peripheral vision

Parts of our vision that is outside our centre of gaze, outside our point of focus.


Small red dots or spots due to bleeding under the skin.


Resistance to pharmaceutical drugs. For example, pharmacoresistant epilepsy does not respond to anti-epileptic drugs.

picc line

Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter. A tube that is passed through a vein, often in the arm or chest, to end up in a large vein near the heart. The other end is left outside the body and is used to deliver chemotherapy drugs straight into the blood. It can also be used to take blood samples. It is a type of central line and can be left in place for some time.

Pituitary gland

Found at the base of the brain, it is the 'master' gland of the body's endocrine system. Working with the hypothalamus, it controls other hormone-producing glands in the body to regulate different body functions, such as heart rate, body temperature as well as growth and development.


A medicine or procedure that has no actual biological or chemical therapeutic effect. It is generally used as a control in testing new drugs, but sometimes for the psychological benefit to the patient through their believing they are receiving treatment . This is known as the placebo effect.

Placebo effect

When giving an inactive substance (such as sugar, distilled water, or saline solution) improves a patient's condition simply because the person has the expectation that it will be helpful.


A type of blood cell that helps to stop bleeding when there has been an injury to the body, such as a cut. Platelets do this by helping the blood to clot.

Polymer wafer

Small wafers or discs the size of a 5p coin containing the chemotherapy drug called carmustine. They are implanted in the brain and dissolve gradually releasing the drug.
Also known as Gliadel® wafers.


Part of the brainstem, it connects the medulla oblongata and the midbrain. It relays signals from the cerebrum to the cerebellum. It is involved with sleep, breathing, bladder control, hearing, facial and eye movements, posture and other functions.


A way of taking blood or delivering medicines straight into the blood, without having to insert a needle each time.

Similar to a central line, except that the tube does not exit the body via the arm or chest. Instead, a small chamber (port) is implanted under the skin in the chest. The chemotherapy drugs are then injected into the port using a special needle.
The advantage is that you can't see the portacath
and there are not have tubes coming out of the body, which have to be kept dry.

Posterior fossa

A small space at the back of the skull containing the cerebellum, brain stem and fourth ventricle.

Primary brain tumour

A tumour which begins in the brain (rather than spreading from somewhere else in the body)

Primitive cell

An unspecialised immature cell from early in our development as an embryo. They include stem cells.


The likely course and expected outcome of a medical condition.


A severe mental health problem that disrupts perception, thinking, emotion and behaviour. It might include hallucinations or delusions.


A period in a human's development when the body matures sexually, causing various physical, psychological and behavioural changes. There is no set age when it starts. For girls, it is usually between 8 - 14 years; for boys, 9-14 years.