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Colorectal Cancer Glossary of Terms


Genetic testing: blood or tissue tests that may be ordered to detect the presence of genetic abnormalities that place a person at risk for getting certain diseases, such as cancer. For patients and families suspected of having an inherited disease it may be possible to find the mutation causing the disease through genetic testing of blood.

Grade: a labeling system that is used to indicate a cancer's appearance as compared to normal tissue.

Hemorrhoids: swollen veins which line the anal opening, caused by excess pressure from straining during a bowel movement, persistent diarrhea, or pregnancy.

Hepatitis: a disease in which the liver is inflamed. A viral infection is usually the cause of hepatitis, although sometimes toxins or drugs are the cause.

Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC): a syndrome in which a gene mutation influences the development of colon, rectal, and other cancers. Colon and rectal cancer occurs frequently in HNPCC families.

Hormonal therapy: the use of hormones to treat cancer patients by removing, blocking, or adding to the effects of a hormone on an organ or part of the body.

Hormones: chemicals produced by glands in the body. Hormones control the actions of certain cells or organs.

Ileal (J) Pouch: a pouch for holding stool that is used to replace the rectum after a total proctocolectomy. There are four forms of the ileal pouch, named after the shape in which the end of the small intestine (the ileum) is placed before it is sewn (or stapled) to make a pouch. The most common form is the "J" pouch, but there also are the "S," the "H" and the "W" pouches.

Ileocolectomy: surgical removal of a section of the terminal ileum and colon lying close to the ileum (the lowermost part of the small intestine).

Ileorectal anastomosis: the surgical connection of the ileum and the rectum.

Ileostomy: the surgical creation of an opening between the surface of the skin and the ileum, the lowermost section of the small intestine.

Ileum: the lower three fifths of the small intestine from the jejunum to the ileocecal valve.

Immune system: the body's natural defense system against infection or disease.

Immunotherapy: treatment to stimulate or restore the ability of the immune system to fight infection and disease; also called biological therapy.

Incontinence (bowel): loss of bowel control.

Inflammation: one of the body's defense mechanisms. Inflammation results in increased blood flow in response to infection and certain chronic conditions. Symptoms of inflammation include redness, swelling, pain, and heat.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): diseases that cause inflammation of the bowel. IBD includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

IV: see Intravenous.

Intravenous: medication given through a vein or veins using a small tube, or catheter.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS, also irritable bowel disease): a condition in which the colon muscle contracts more readily and causes abdominal pain and cramps, excess gas, bloating, and a change in bowel habits.

WebMD Medical Reference

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