Have you been diagnosed with a brain tumour? Order your free information pack.

Jargon Buster

  • Metastasis

    The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another. These are known as secondary tumours. A secondary brain tumour is one which has spread to the brain from the original site e.g. lung, breast etc.

  • Microenvironment

    The tiny area surrounding cells, which can affect how they behave.

  • Midbrain

    Part of the brainstem just above the pons. It helps to relay information for sight and hearing.

  • Monoclonal antibody (MAB)

    Identical copy of an antibody taken from the body and multiplied in the laboratory. Antibodies are part of the immune system, which work to remove or kill harmful substances in the body. Monoclonal antibodies (MABs) are a type of biological therapy which can be made to target some types of tumour cell.

  • Monotherapy

    Therapy that uses one type of treatment, such as radiation therapy or surgery alone, to treat a certain disease or condition. In drug therapy, monotherapy refers to the use of a single drug to treat a disease or condition.

  • Moon face

    The rounded appearance of the face due to fat deposits on the sides of the face. This can be caused by steroids (corticosteroids) that are often given to prevent swelling after surgery or other brain tumour treatment.

  • Motor cortex

    The area of the brain in the cerebral cortex that controls voluntary movement.

  • Motor skills

    Any action that involves using your muscles intentionally (voluntarily). Motor skills – fine: Small, precise movements, such as those involved in feeding, dressing, writing, playing computer games etc. Motor skills – gross: Larger movements with your arms, legs, feet or entire body e.g. walking, balancing.

  • MRI scan

    The use of magnetic fields to build up a three-dimensional image of the inside of your head by taking pictures from various angles. MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

  • Multi-Disciplinary Team

    Abbreviated to MDT. A team of healthcare professionals with different specialisations who, once you are diagnosed, work together and oversee your treatment and care.

  • Multiplex immunofluorescence

    A way to see many different proteins at once in a sample using colourful markers.

  • Mutation

    A change in the structure of a gene. In most cases, such changes are neutral or they are repaired by the body. However, occasionally the repair may not be perfect causing a mistake to be copied during cell division. These acquired mutations can be involved in the development of cancer. Mutations can be caused by other factors, including environmental ‘insults’, such as radiation and certain chemicals. Mutations are sometimes attributed to random chance events.

  • Myelin sheath

    A protective sleeve around nerve cells that acts as an insulator and allows faster and more efficient transmission of signals down the nerves. It is formed by oligodendrocytes in the central nervous system and Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system.

  • Named patient programme

    “A means of granting controlled access to drugs in response to requests by health professionals on behalf of specific, or “named”, patients before those medicines are licensed.

    The patients must have exhausted all alternative treatment options and not match clinical trial entry criteria.

    Often called compassionate use, expanded access, or named patient supply.”

  • National Institute of Health and Care Excellence

    The organisation in the UK that provides guidance on the use of medicines for specific diseases and conditions. Abbreviated to NICE. Its guidance is officially England-only, but agreements are in place with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

  • Nausea

    Feeling sick and likely to vomit.

  • Necrosis

    Death of cells through injury or disease, especially in a localised area of tissue or organ. It can be caused by a lack of blood flow to the cells.

  • Neoplasm

    A new and abnormal growth of tissue in the body – another name for a tumour.

  • Neuro-obs

    Neurological observations. These include checking how alert you are; testing your reflexes; checking that the pupils in your eye react to light; checking your pulse, blood pressure, the amount of oxygen in your blood and how many breaths you take each minute.

  • Neuro-oncology

    The study of brain and spinal cord tumours.

  • Neurobiology

    The branch of science that deals with structure of the brain and nervous system, the way it works and its diseases.

  • Neuroendocrinologist

    A neuroendocrinologist is a specialist who works in the field of neuroendocrinology. This is the study of the relationship between the brain and hormones, and how hormonal imbalances can affect people’s wellbeing, leading to depression, seizures, and other issues.

  • Neuroendocrinology

    Neuroendocrinology is the study of the relationship between the brain and hormones. Its primary aim is to study how hormonal imbalances can affect people’s wellbeing. For example, these imbalances can lead to depression, seizures, and other issues.

  • Neurology

    The branch of medicine that deals with the structure (anatomy), functions and disorders of the nerves and the nervous system.

  • Neuron

    Nerve cell that receives and sends electrical signals over long distances within the body

  • Neuropsychologist

    Healthcare professionals who specialise in the physical effects of brain disease or injury on mental abilities.

  • Neuroscience

    Any science which deals with the brain and nervous system. Examples of a neuroscience include neurobiology, neurochemistry and experimental psychology.

    It is sometimes used interchangeably with neurobiology, but usually looks more at understanding how the human brain works to produce behaviour and other brain functions, such as learning.

  • Neurotransmitter

    A chemical substance which transmits (carries) signals across the junction (synapse) from one nerve to another. Examples include: serotonin, which helps carry messages between different areas of the brain, and plays a part in mood, appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation and some social behaviour.

  • Neutropenia

    An abnormally low number of neutrophils in the blood. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell and are part of the immune system. They attack bacteria and other foreign substances when they invade your body. A low level means you are more prone to infections.

  • Neutrophils

    A type of white blood cell – they are part of the immune system. They attack bacteria and other foreign substances when they invade your body

  • NICE

    National Institute of Health and Care Excellence. The organisation that provides guidance on the use of medicines for specific diseases and conditions. Its guidance is officially England-only, but agreements are in place with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

  • Noradrenaline

    A type of neurotransmitter that raises the blood pressure and heart rate.

  • Nystagmus

    Rapid, involuntary, jerky movements of the eyes.

  • Occipital lobe

    The part of each cerebral hemisphere of the brain located towards the very rear of the skull. Its main role is the control of vision.

  • Oedema

    An excess build-up of fluid in the tissues or cavities in the body, causing swelling and other symptoms. Cerebral oedema: build-up of fluid in the cells in the brain or in the spaces outside the cells. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, blurred vision and, in severe cases, seizures, coma or death.

  • Off-label access

    The use of medicines outside the terms of their licence (i.e. ‘off-label’), if it is judged to be in the best interest of the patient. For example, it could be used with a different dose or route of administration, or for a different disease.

  • Oligodendrocyte

    A type of brain cell which produces a protective sheath around the brain’s nerve cells (‘neurons’), known as the myelin sheath. An oligodendrocyte is a type of glial cell.

  • Oncologist

    Doctor who specialises in treating people who have cancer

  • Optic disc

    A circular area at the back of the inside of the eye connecting to the optic nerve.

  • Optic nerve

    The nerve connecting the eye to the brain.

  • Oral candidiasis

    Another name for oral thrush – a fungal/yeast infection of the mouth.

  • Oral mucositis

    Inflammation of the inside of the mouth, that can cause soreness and mouth ulcers. It is a common side-effect of treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

  • Oral thrush

    A fungal/yeast infection of the mouth. Also known as oral candidiasis, it can occur when treatments, such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy, upset the normal balance of bacteria and yeast within the mouth, allowing the yeast to grow.

  • Orally

    Taken through the mouth.

  • Organoids

    Tiny 3D models of organs made from cells to study diseases and test treatments.

  • Osteoporosis

    A disease of decreased bone strength. The bones become more fragile and likely to break due to loss of tissue. It is usually caused by hormonal changes or lack of calcium or Vitamin D.

  • Overall survival

    Overall survival means how long someone will live, which is different from progression-free survival (PFS).

  • Paediatrician

    Doctor who specialises in children’s illnesses.

  • Papilloedema

    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).