Renal Cancer Clinical Quality Performance Indicators: Engagement Document

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engagement with professional groups, health service staff, voluntary organisations, patients affected by renal cancer and the wider public.

Appendix 6: Glossary of Terms

Ablative therapy

See Cryotherapy and Radiofrequency Ablation

Active surveillance

Closely watching a patient's condition but not giving treatment unless there are changes in test results. It is used to find early signs that the condition is getting worse.

Active treatment

Treatment directed to cure the disease.


The study of the structure of a plant or animal.


A benign (non-cancerous) tumour of the kidney.

Anti-cancer therapy

Any treatment which is designed to kill cancer cells.


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


Having to do with the heart and blood vessels.

Chronic kidney disease

Long term kidney problems.

Clear cell renal cell carcinoma/renal cancer

The most common subtype of renal cell carcinoma/renal cancer.

Clinical effectiveness

Measure of the extent to which a particular intervention works.

Clinical trials

A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches or medicines work. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of a disease.

Computed Tomography ( CT)

An x-ray imaging technique, which allows detailed investigation of the internal organ of the body.


Referring to the opposite side of the body.


The gradual return to health and strength after an illness.

Cost effectiveness

Value for money

Cross sectional imaging

The term used to cover different techniques (e.g. CT) which produce cross-sectional images of the body.
See Computed Tomography ( CT)


A treatment which aims to eradicate cancer by freezing.

Curative intent

Treatment which is given with the aim of curing the cancer.

Cytological / Cytopathological

The study of the structure and function of cells under the microscope, and of their abnormalities.


The process of identifying a disease, such as cancer, from its signs and symptoms.


The process of filtering the blood when the kidneys are not able to cleanse it.


An elective procedure is one that is chosen by the patient or doctor that is advantageous to the patient but is not urgent.

First-line / Primary treatment

Initial treatment used to reduce a cancer.

Fuhrman grading system

A specific grading system for clear cell renal cancer. See Grading.


The degree of malignancy of a tumour, i.e. how closely the cancer cells look like normal kidney cells.

Histological / Histopathogical

The study of the structure, composition and function of tissues under the microscope, and their abnormalities.


Treatment to stimulate or restore the ability of the immune system to fight infection and disease. Also used to lessen the side-effects that may be caused by some cancer treatments.

Intravenous (IV) contrast

A substance administered intra venously (directly into bloodstream) to enhance the visibility of structures on imaging.


Cancer that can or has spread from its histological original site.


One of a pair of organs in the abdomen. Kidneys remove waste from the blood (as urine), produce erythropoietin (a substance that stimulates red blood cell production), and play a role in blood pressure regulation.

Laparoscopic nephrectomy

Surgery performed using a laparoscope; a special type of endoscope inserted through a small incision in the abdominal wall.


Tumour, mass, or other abnormality.

Licensed indication

Approved use of a drug/treatment (by the Scottish Medicines Consortium or National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence).

Magnetic Resonance Imaging ( MRI)

A procedure in which radio waves and a powerful magnet linked to a computer are used to create detailed pictures of areas inside the body. These pictures can show the difference between normal and diseased tissue.


Cancerous. Malignant cells can invade and destroy nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.

Metastases/Metastatic disease

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

Minimally invasive procedure

A procedure undertaken with only a small incision or no incision at all.


How much ill health a particular condition causes.


The science of the form and structure of organisms (plants, animals, and other forms of life).


Either (1) the condition of being subject to death; or (2) the death rate, which reflects the number of deaths per unit of population in any specific region, age group, disease or other classification, usually expressed as deaths per 1000, 10,000 or 100,000.

Multi-disciplinary team meeting ( MDT)

A meeting which is held on a regular basis, which is made up of participants from various disciplines appropriate to the disease area, where diagnosis, management, and appropriate treatment of patients is discussed and decided.

National Institute for Clinical Effectiveness ( NICE)

An independent organisation responsible for providing NHS England with guidance on promoting good health and preventing and treating ill health.

Needle aspirate

Fluid withdrawn from a lump (often a cyst) using a needle.


Surgery to remove all or part of a kidney. Radical nephrectomy removes the entire kidney, nearby lymph nodes and other surrounding tissue.

Nephron sparing surgery ( NSS)

Partial nephrectomy (also known as Nephron sparing surgery) removes only the tumour and part of the kidney surrounding it.


Cancer which has not metastasised. Cancer which has not spread to any other part of the body other than primary site in kidney.

Open resection

Surgery to remove part or all of an organ or a tumour and nearby lymph nodes. The incision is large enough to let the surgeon see into the body.


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

Partial nephrectomy

Partial nephrectomy (also known as nephron sparing surgery) removes only the tumour and part of the kidney surrounding it.


The study of disease processes with the aim of understanding their nature and causes. This is achieved by observing samples of fluid and tissues obtained from the living patient by various methods, or at post mortem.

Performance status

A measure of how well a patient is able to perform ordinary tasks and carry out daily activities. ( PS WHO score of 0=asymptomatic, 4=bedridden).

Primary Tumour

The original tumour.


An assessment of the expected future course and outcome of a person's disease.

Radical nephrectomy

Radical nephrectomy removes the entire kidney, nearby lymph nodes and other surrounding tissue.

Radiofrequency ablation ( RFA)

A procedure that uses radio waves to heat and destroy abnormal cells.


The use of radiation (such as x-rays) or other imaging technologies (such as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging) to diagnose or treat disease.


Having to do with the kidneys.

Renal Cell Carcinoma / Renal Cancer

Cancer of the kidney/s.

Renal function

An indication of how well the kidney is working.

Scottish Medicines Consortium ( SMC)

The purpose of the SMC is to accept for use those newly licensed drugs that clearly represent good value for money to NHSScotland. SMC analyses information supplied by the drug manufacturer on the health benefits of the drug and justification of its price.

Space-occupying lesion

Substantial physical lesions which occupy space.


Process of describing to what degree cancer has spread from its original site to another part of the body. Staging involves clinical, surgical and pathology assessments.

Supportive care

Care given to improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease. The goal of supportive care is to prevent or treat as early as possible the symptoms of a disease, side effects caused by treatment of a disease, and psychological, social, and spiritual problems related to a disease or its treatment.

Surgery / Surgical resection

Surgical removal of the tumour/lesion.

Systemic Anti Cancer Therapy ( SACT)

Treatment of cancer using drugs which induce a reduction in tumour cell population, for example cancer chemotherapy or hormone therapy.

Systemic therapies

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

TNM staging system

TNM classification provides a system for staging the extent of cancer. T refers to the size of the primary tumour. N refers to the involvement of the lymph nodes. M refers to the presence of metastases or distant spread of the disease.

Transitional Cell Carcinoma ( TCC)

Cancer which develops in cells, known as transitional cells, which form the lining of the bladder, ureters and renal pelvis.

Tumour excision

Removal of the tumour mass.


Unable to be removed by surgery.


Hollow muscular tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.


Arrangement of blood vessels in the body.


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