ABBREVIATIONS & DEFINITIONS
Anaplastic thyroid cancer: a very rare but very aggressive type of thyroid cancer. In contrast to all other types of thyroid cancer, most patients with anaplastic thyroid cancer die of their cancer and do so within a few years.
Mutation: A permanent change in one of the genes.
Genes: a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. Living beings depend on genes, as they code for all proteins and RNA chains that have functions in a cell. Genes hold the information to build and maintain an organism’s cells and pass genetic traits to offspring.
Thyroidectomy: surgery to remove the entire thyroid gland. When the entire thyroid is removed it is termed a total thyroidectomy. When less is removed, such as in removal of a lobe, it is termed a partial thyroidectomy.
Tyrosine kinases: proteins that are overactive in many of the pathways that cause cells to be cancerous. Inhibiting these proteins with drugs known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors are effective chemotherapy drugs for cancers, including advanced thyroid cancer
Cancer-associated genes: these are genes that are normally expressed in cells. Cancer cells frequently have mutations in these genes. It is unclear whether mutations in these genes cause the cancer or are just associated with the cancer cells. The cancer-associated genes important in thyroid cancer are BRAF, RET/PTC and RAS
BRAF gene: this is gene that codes for a protein that is involved in a signaling pathway and is important for cell growth. Mutations in the BRAF gene in adults appear to cause cancer.