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Colorectal Cancer Glossary of Terms

Abdominoperineal resection: the surgical removal of the anus, rectum, and sigmoid colon, resulting in the need for a permanent colostomy.

Abscess: a localized formation of pus caused by a bacterial infection.

Recommended Related to Colorectal Cancer

Understanding Colon Cancer -- Diagnosis and Treatment

Beginning at the age of 50, everyone should be screened regularly for colorectal cancer (earlier screening is recommended for some high-risk groups). There are several options. The traditional screening routine was for the doctor to perform a digital rectal exam once a year and for you to collect three stool samples to be tested for traces of blood. Also, every three to five years you would receive a sigmoidoscopy and a double-contrast barium enema to look at the lower part of the bowel. If anything...

Read the Understanding Colon Cancer -- Diagnosis and Treatment article > >

Accidental Bowel Leakage: Also called fecal incontinence. The inability to retain stool, resulting in bowel accidents.

Acetaminophen: a drug that reduces pain and fever, but not inflammation. It is sold under the brand name Tylenol.

Acute: abrupt onset that usually is severe; happens for a short period of time.

Adenoma: benign (non-cancerous) polyps, or growths, that are considered the first step toward colon and rectal cancer.

Adhesion: a band of scar tissue that connects two surfaces of the body that are normally separate.

Adjuvant therapy: additional treatment, or add-on treatment, provided with the primary treatment to prevent cancer recurrence.

Adverse effect: a negative or harmful effect.

Analgesic: medicine to relieve pain.

Anemia: a condition in which a person has a low red blood cell count. It occurs when there is not enough hemoglobin in a person's blood. Hemoglobin is the substance in the red blood cells that enables the blood to transport oxygen throughout the body.

Antibiotic: medication used to treat bacterial infections.

Antibodies: proteins produced by the body to protect itself from foreign substances, such as bacteria or viruses.

Antigens: substances that provoke an immune response in the body. The body produces antibodies to fight antigens, or harmful substances, to try to eliminate them.

Anti-inflammatory: medication used to reduce pain, swelling, or other irritation caused by inflammation.

Air contrast barium enema: also called double contrast barium enema -- an X-ray examination of the entire large intestine (colon) and rectum in which barium and air are introduced gradually into the colon by a rectal tube.

Anal fissure: a split or crack in the lining of the anal opening, usually caused by the passage of very hard or watery stools.

Anastomosis: a surgical joining of two ducts, blood vessels, or bowel segments to allow flow from one to the other.

Aneurysm: the abnormal enlargement or bulging of a blood vessel, caused by damage or weakness in the blood vessel wall.

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