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Colorectal Cancer Glossary of Terms

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Fluoroscopy: an X-ray technique that allows the doctor to observe how an organ performs its normal function; for example, how the esophagus works during swallowing.

Gas: a product of digestion that is made primarily of odorless vapors -- carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and sometimes methane. The unpleasant odor is due to bacteria in the large intestine that release small amounts of gases containing sulfur. Everyone has gas and eliminates it by burping or passing it through the rectum. In many instances people think they have too much gas, when in reality they have normal amounts. Most people produce one to three pints of intestinal gas in 24 hours, and pass gas an average of 14 times a day.

Gastroenterologist: an expert in the treatment of diseases of the digestive (gastrointestinal) tract. They have completed advanced training in the treatment of digestive problems.

Gene: the basic unit of heredity found in all cells. Each gene occupies a certain location on a chromosome that contains the DNA that transfers genetic information.

Genetic counseling: a process in which a genetic counselor obtains a complete family and personal medical history in order to determine the probable existence of a genetic problem occurring within a family. The interpretation and implications of genetic testing are discussed. Often used for prospective parents in order to provide information about risks of diseases prior to conception, or during pregnancy. Genetic testing also helps inform those who are at risk of inheriting hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), which increase the risk of getting colorectal cancer.

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.

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