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Colorectal Cancer Health Center

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Colorectal Cancer Glossary of Terms


Remission: the disappearance of any signs and symptoms of cancer. A remission can be temporary or permanent.

Risk factor: a factor that increases a person's chance of developing a disease or predisposes a person to a certain condition.

Sentinel lymph node: the first lymph node to which a tumor drains, making it the first place where cancer is likely to spread.

Sigmoidoscopy: see Flexible sigmoidoscopy.

Small intestine: the portion of the digestive tract that first receives food from the stomach. It is divided into three sections: the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ileum. As food travels through the small intestine it is further broken down by enzymes, and nutrients from the food are absorbed into the bloodstream.

Sphincteroplasty: procedure performed to repair the anal sphincter.

Stage: a scoring system used to describe the extent of the cancer. The stage of colon cancer depends on the penetration of the tumor into and through the walls of colon and whether it has spread from its original site to other parts of the body.

Stoma: an artificial opening of the intestine to outside the abdominal wall.

Systemic therapy: treatment that reaches and affects cells all over the body.

Thrombosis: a blood clot.

Total abdominal colectomy: surgical removal of the entire colon.

Trocar: a sharp, pointed instrument used to make a puncture incision in the abdominal wall; used for placement of cannulas (tubes that hold a laparoscope and other instruments in place during laparoscopic surgery).

Tumor: a spontaneous new growth of tissue forming an abnormal mass.

Ulcerative colitis: a disease that causes inflammation and sores, called ulcers, in the superficial layers of the lining of the large intestine. The inflammation usually occurs in the rectum and lower part of the colon, but it may affect the entire colon. Ulcerative colitis rarely affects the small intestine except for the lower section, called the ileum.

Ultrasound: a test used to diagnose a wide range of diseases and conditions in which high-frequency sound waves, inaudible to the human ear, are transmitted through body tissues. The echoes are recorded and translated into video or photographic images that are displayed on a monitor.

Vomiting: the forcible expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth, which occurs with symptoms of nausea. Vomiting is not a disease but a symptom of many disorders. Vomiting is also a side effect of some forms of chemotherapy.

X-ray: high-energy radiation used in low doses to diagnose diseases and used in high doses to treat cancer.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Arnold Wax, MD on July 02, 2012

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