Jargon buster

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

S

Sedative

A drug that calms a patient, reducing anxiety and making you sleepy. It can be given before certain medical procedures to make them less stressful.

Seizure

A sudden burst of uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain, that temporarily disrupts the normal working of the brain. It can cause a range of symptoms from minor physical signs, such as an arm or leg twitching; strange sensations or thought disturbances: to a physical convulsion and loss of consciousness.

SEN

Special Educational Needs that affect a child's ability to learn. These could include: reading & writing; ability to understand things; concentration levels; physical needs or impairments; or the behaviour or ability to socialise. If your child needs more support than the school can provide through SEN, they may need an education, health and care (EHC) plan. You can ask your local authority for an assessment.

SENCO

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator. The person who is responsible for and co-ordinates additional support that some pupils will need in school. All mainstream schools must have a SENCO.

Shunt

A tube that is inserted to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid from the brain to another part of the body, where it can easily be eliminated. This is to prevent a build-up of pressure on the brain, as caused by hydrocephalus. During an operation, one end of the tube will be inserted into the area of the brain where the fluid is collecting, and the other end will usually run through to the abdomen. From here it can be absorbed into the blood stream and eliminated from the body in the usual way, as urine when you go the toilet. The shunt usually has a valve to control the flow of fluid and make sure it doesn't drain too quickly. You may be able to feel the valve under your scalp.

Somatic cell

Any cell in the body that is not a reproductive/germ cell i.e. any cell other than sperm or eggs.

Somnolence syndrome

Period of excessive drowsiness, impaired concentration and fatigue that can follow 4 -6 weeks after radiotherapy, particularly to the head.

Specials

Unlicensed medicines, which have been specially manufactured or imported, for the treatment of an individual patient after being ordered by specified healthcare professionals.

Squint

Inability for both eyes to look in the same direction. Also known as strabismus.

Stem cell

An unspecialised, primitive cell that is able to grow into any one of the body's different cell types. They play a part in the body's ability to renew and repair itself.

Steroid card

A card to carry in your wallet or purse that contains details of your steroid type and dosage. This is important information if you need to have medical treatment, such as in an emergency. If you are given a steroid card, make sure you carry it with you at all times. Your doctor may advise you to carry it for up to a year after completion of your steroid treatment.

Steroids

Substances that are made naturally in the body that affect various functions of the body. They can also be made artificially in the laboratory. There are different types of steroids. The ones used in brain tumour treatment are called corticosteroids. They help to reduce swelling caused by the tumour or its treatment. They are NOT anabolic steroids, that athletes sometimes use to bulk up their muscles.

Stroke

A brain attack. When blood circulation is cut off from a specific part of the brain. The damage a stroke can cause depends on where in the brain it happens

Supratentorial

The area of the brain above the membrane known as the tentorium. The supratentorial region includes the cerebrum.

Synapse

The junction between two nerve cells (neurons). It is a minute gap across which nerve impulses pass with the aid of a chemical substance called a neurotransmitter.

Syndrome

A collection of signs and symptoms that appear together and form a disease or medical condition.