Myelom-Gruppe Rhein-Main

Last modified: 12 January 2013

Glossary of terms


Alkylating agents

Frequently used in the treatment of tumours Cytostatic agents. Melphalan and cyclo-phosphamide are particularly well-known in the treatment of myeloma. "Alkylating" refers to the manner in which the chemotherapeutic agents cross-link the DNA of malignant cells and thus block their division and reproduction.


Allos, Greek = other, different. In this context, transfer of the bone marrow from another person. A precondition for this is that the tissue characteristics of donor and recipient are largely identical.


Blood deficiency, reduction in the number of red blood cells, the haemoglobin or the overall blood volume.


History of illness; nature, beginning and course of the (current) complaints discussed with the patient during medical consultation.


Medicine with destructive effect against bacteria. Antibiotics are used to treat infectious diseases caused by bacteria.


Integral part of the body's own defence system. Antibodies bind foreign and the body's own substances, for example, toxic substances and viruses and render them harmless. In medicine, antibodies can be used for diagnostic and treatment purposes. So-called monoclonal antibodies can be produced in the laboratory and used therapeutically for the treatment of tumour cells.


Specific structures on the cell surface of bacteria, viruses or fungi. If the body is attacked by such pathogens, the plasma cells developed from the B-lymphocytes form antibodies.


Medicine that prevents or reduces nausea and vomiting. Used especially in the treatment of side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.


With cancer patients: Condition with very poor blood count, attributable to chemotherapy and radiation treatment.


Illness without symptoms or complaints.


Autos, Greek = developed by the body itself, not brought in from the outside. Here: return transfer of own bone marrow, cleaned following removal.

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Benign or malignant state of a growth. Benign tumours are not threatening to life or health. Malignant tumours are cancerous and tend invade normal tissue and recur after removal.


Tissue is removed using an instrument (for example special cannula, forceps instrument or scalpel) and examined under the microscope. Description either according to removal technique (for example needle biopsy) or according to the place where tissue is removed (e.g. mucous membrane biopsy).


Medicine that slows down the activity of the bone phagocytes and is thus also used for treating the life-threatening Hypercalcemia crisis , in addition to soothing pain and reducing the risk of bone fracture.


Immature precursors of the white blood cells.

Blood plasma

Constituent part of the blood (55 percent of the total blood) that is made up more than 90 percent of water and protein.


Sub-group of the lymphocytes that mature in the bone marrow, the lymph glands, the spleen and in other lymph organs in humans. Upon contact with a specific antigen, B-lymphocytes develop into antibody-producing plasma cells or into so-called memory cells. The latter again become active upon renewed contact with the same antigen (with the help of the T-lymphocytes) and forward the information stored to the plasma cells that then form specific antibodies ( Specific defence system).

Bone marrow transplant

Transplant of blood stem cells taken from the bone marrow or the blood. A fundamental distinction is made between transplantation of the patient's own bone marrow ( Autologous bone marrow transplant) and that of a family or third party donor ( Allogenic bone marrow transplant).

Bone marrow

Tissue that fills out the inside of the bone; place of blood formation.

B-symptoms and signs

Three symptoms frequently occur concurrently with tumour illnesses: high temperature, night perspiration and loss of weight. These three signs of illness are summarised using the term B-symptoms and signs.

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Treatment with chemical substances that inhibits the growth of tumour cells in the organism. The term is mostly used to refer to cytostatic chemotherapy, i.e. the combating of tumour cells through the use of medicine that hinders cell-division ( Cytostatic agents).


Visible carriers of the hereditary information; constituent parts of the nucleus that can be dyed intensively.


Slowly progressing, slowly developing.



Computerised tomography (CT)

Computer-assisted x-ray diagnostic procedure for the creation of sectional images (tomograms). The computer calculates the sectional images from the absorption of fine ex-ray radiation sent through the layer to be examined.


Messenger substances, with which, for example, the body's own defence cells communicate with one another.

Cytostatic agents

Medicine that primarily inhibits the growth of tumour cells but which also damages healthy cells to a certain extent. In this respect, division of the cells is frequently hindered ( Chemotherapy).Top of page


Collective term for all examinations leading to the diagnosis of an illness.

Differential blood count

Percentage coding of the white blood cells.


Toxic chemical compounds (the best known is the so-called Seveso poison) that result as undesired by-products of certain technical processes; they are extremely water-insoluble, volatilise very slowly and largely penetrate into the environment bound to dust and soil particles; can cause cancer.

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Fractionating of protein in an electric field. It enables both the calculation of the myeloma protein amount, as well as evidence of the M-apex (monoclonal immunoglobulin). Electrophoresis is used in diagnosis, as well as for the monitoring of the therapy.


Proteins in the human body that have very different tasks. Enzyme mixtures are produced for example by the gastro-intestinal mucous membrane, by the liver, the gallbladder and the pancreas and serve to break down or process nutritional substances.


Red blood cells that are responsible for the transport of oxygen in the blood.

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Here: division of radiation series into individual sessions.

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Sub-group of white blood cells that are very important for the actual combating of infections.

Growth factors

Medicine that can accelerate the increase in the blood cells, for example following chemotherapy.

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Red colouring in the red blood cells, responsible amongst other things for the transport or binding of oxygen.


Abbreviation for "Human Leukocyte Antigens". This describes tissue characteristics. These are pre-determined in the genotype. The HLA typing is important for the preparation of allogenic transplants. The greater the similarity of donor organ and recipient organ, the greater the chance of a successful stem cell transplant.


Messenger substances found in the body. Even in very small concentrations, they influence the metabolism of the body. They regulate processes such as growth, sexual behaviour or the metabolism of foodstuffs and reach their point of effect through the blood or the lymph tract.


Excessively high level of calcium in the blood; this complication can be remedied though a course of therapy with bisphosphonates.

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Immune defence

Ability of the body's own defence system to combat antigens, i.e. foreign bodies such as bacteria and fungi.


A synonym for antibodies, i.e. proteins with antibody characteristics. Polyclonal immunoglobulins, i.e. immunoglobulin mixtures from a donor, are administered to treat weak immune systems. The paraprotein occurring with multiple myeloma/plasmacytoma patients is a monoclonal immunoglobulin.


Literally: leaking, here: loss of urine control, unintentional passing of urine.


Invasion and reproduction of sickness-producing organisms in the body.

Infection defence

The organism's defences against infection through bacteria, viruses or fungi. The defence against the infection is made up of the intact skin (acid coating and natural germ flora) and mucous membrane (mucous membrane secretion contains substances that can kill off pathogens), as well as of the Specific and Non-specific defence system.


Introduction of liquid (for example saline solution) into the organism, in particular via the blood ( Intravenous).


In the hospital.


Messenger substances, with which the body's own defence cells communicate with one another. Today, these substances can be produced artificially and are used in the treatment of various forms of cancer.


Administering of medicine or of a liquid substance directly into the veins.

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White blood cells. These play the main role in the body's fight against infection. These cells are sub-divided into three main groups: Granulocytes, Lymphocytes, Monocytes. With healthy people, only a small portion of the leukocytes present in the body are found in the blood; most leukocytes are to be found in the bone marrow or in various organs and tissues. An increase in the number of leukocytes in the blood is an indication of an illness.


Sub-group of the white blood cells that assist in the combating of illnesses and foreign substances, with the two sub-types B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes. Only a small portion of the lymphocytes are found in the blood, the remaining lymphocytes are found in the lymphatic organs (such as thymus gland and spleen), where they multiply.

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Phagocytes of the tissue; together with the Monocytes they form a defence system against firm particles from outside the body.


Virulent/dangerous to health.


Belonging to one and the same clone. The multiple myeloma/plasmacytoma develops from one single malign plasma cell and all cells stemming from this are the same. The mother cell and all of its daughter cells form a cell clone.


Sub-group of the white blood cells; monocytes and Granulocytes kill bacteria by eating them up. In the event of a deficiency of these cells, the Non-specific denfence of the body is impaired.

Morphine derivatives

Morphine derivatives are substances with similar effects to morphine.


Precursor cells of Granulocytes.

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Neutrophil granulocyte deficiency.

Non-specific defence system

Phagocytes (macrophages), Monocytes and neutrophils Granulocytes serve the non-specific defence against foreign substances. The granulocytes move to the scene of the action following penetration of pathogens and absorb the pathogens in order to subsequently destroy them.

Nuclear spin tomography, magnetic resonance tomography (MRT)

Nuclear spin tomography or magnetic resonance tomography is an image-generating process that makes use of the electromagnetic vibration of tissue constituents in an artificially created magnetic field. It illustrates structures inside the body in high resolution and thus provides precise sectional images. Nuclear spin tomography is frequently unsuitable for patients with heart pacemakers, for particularly anxious patients and for people who can only be subjected to a very short examination time.

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Osteoclast, Osteoblast

Also referred to as bone phagocytes, because they reduce the bone substance. The counterparts of osteoclasts are the osteoblasts; these help build up the bone substance.


Place in the bone at which bone substance is reduced. With multiple myeloma/plasmacytoma, this reduction occurs as a result of excessive activity of the osteoclasts.


Ailment of the skeletal system with a loss or reduction of bone substance and structure and increased susceptibility to bone fractures.


Without a stay in hospital.

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Collective term for monoclonal formed Immunglobulins and immunoglobulin fragments. They are formed by the plasmacytoma cells and can occur in high concentrations in the blood.


Plant protecting agents.


Concerning the body.

Plasma cell infiltration

Penetration of tissue through plasma cells.

Plasma cell

Particular kind of lymph cells. Normal plasma cells produce antibodies against foreign pathogens such as infection pathogens. With multiple myeloma/plasmacytoma, there is unhindered multiplication of sick plasma cells that produce atypical and ineffective antibodies.


Opposite of Monoclonal; not belonging to one and the same cell clone.


Predicted further course of the illness.






Removal of body fluid from (blood) vessels, body cavities, hollow organs or tumours by means of a hypodermic needle.

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Radiation treatment (radiotherapy)

Treatment with ionising rays, aimed at a precisely determined area of the body using a special device (usually linear accelerator). These radiation fields are planned and calculated in advance in such a manner that the dosage in the target region is sufficiently high and, at the same time, healthy tissue is protected as well as possible. A distinction is made between internal radiation therapy (spiking/after-loading with radioactive elements) and external radiation therapy.

Radiotherapy (radiation)

Radiation treatment.


"Recurrence" of an illness, in the narrower sense, its reoccurrence following complete healing.


The alleviation of chronic signs of illness; nevertheless, a remission is not necessarily synonymous with healing. In addition, clinical terminology also distinguishes between full and partial remission.

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Infection caused by micro-organisms and affecting the entire body.


Caving in of vertebrae.

Specific defence

In terms of pathogens, a distinction is made between non-specific hereditary immunity and specifically acquired immunity. Both systems are inter-linked with one another. Carriers of the specific defence system are above all the Lymphocytes.

Stem cells

Blood precursor cells, from which the red and white blood cells and the blood platelets develop. These stem cells are to be found in the bone marrow and, in part, also in the blood. They can be removed from here for a transplant, treated and returned to the donor ( Autologous stem cell transplant)or transplanted into an identical HLA recipient ( Allogenic transplant).


Sign of illness.

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Treatment of illness, curative treatment.


Blood platelets; one of the main constituent parts of the blood that produce clots, in order to close wounds and to prevent serious bleeding.


Gland situated behind the sternum; it belongs to the lymphatic system and is part of the body's own defence system.


The T-lymphocytes are differentiated in the thymus, a small organ behind the sternum. The T-lymphocytes carry a protein complex on their cell surface that can recognise and bind antigens. The protein complex only reacts with the antigen specific to it, like to a key that only fits a specific lock. This results in activation of the T-lymphocytes. A distinction is made between cytotoxic T-lymphocytes that can bind and dissolve cells recognised as foreign, i.e. antigen-bearing cells, and the T-helper lymphocytes. By means of the production of various growth factors, these enable the differentiation between B-lymphocytes and cells producing antibodies.


Proliferation of cells growing out of control that can occur throughout the entire body.