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Colorectal Cancer Glossary of Terms


Angiogram/Angiography: a technique that uses dye to highlight blood vessels.

Anoscopy: an examination of the anus with a short, metal or plastic scope. The anoscopy procedure is used to look for hemorrhoids, anal polyps, or other causes of bright-red rectal bleeding.

Anus: the opening of the rectum positioned in the fold between the buttocks, situated at one end of the digestive tract where waste is expelled.

APC: often referred to as a "tumor suppressor gene," APC is a gene that produces a protein to help slow down the rate at which cells divide and grow.

Asymptomatic: no symptoms; no clear evidence that disease is present.

Banding: a technique, used to study our genes, in which chromosomes are stained with fluorescent or chemical dyes to determine their characteristics.

Barium: a substance that, when swallowed or given rectally as an enema, makes the digestive tract visible on X-rays.

Barium enema: a process used to study the colon in which barium is given as an enema (through the rectum). Usually gas is then blown in to make the barium spread over the lining of the colon, producing an outline of the colon on X-ray to reveal any irregularities in the lining, such as a polyp, or growth.

Benign tumor: a non-cancerous growth that usually does not spread to nearby tissues or other parts of the body.

Biofeedback: a technique that gives a person some element of voluntary control over particular bodily functions. An electronic device that produces sight or sound signals is often used.

Biological therapy: see Immunotherapy.

Biopsy: the removal and examination of a sample of tissue with a microscope to see whether cancer cells are present.

Brachytherapy: a form of radiation therapy usually used to treat prostate and other cancers. During the procedure, radioactive seeds are implanted into the prostate gland. The seeds remain in place permanently and become inactive after about 10 months. This technique allows for delivery of a high dose of radiation to the prostate with limited damage to surrounding tissues.

Cancer: a general term for more than 100 diseases in which there is an uncontrolled, abnormal growth of cells. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body.

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