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Colorectal Cancer Glossary of Terms

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Polyps (colon): small growths on the inner colon lining. Certain types of polyps, such as adenomas, may develop into cancer. Other types of polyps have no risk of developing into cancer. Colorectal screening is important to detect polyps and early cancer.

Proctocolectomy: the surgical removal of the entire colon and rectum.

Proctoscopy: a procedure in which a scope is used to examine the rectum.

Proctosigmoidectomy: an operation that removes a diseased section of the rectum and sigmoid colon.

Prognosis: the probable outcome or course of a disease; the chance of recovery.

Pulse oximetry: a device that measures the percent of oxygenation in the blood using a clip on the finger; also measures the heart rate.

Radiation: a form of cancer treatment that uses high levels of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing and dividing -- while minimizing damage to healthy cells.

Radiation, internal: when small amounts of radioactive materials are introduced into the body to help prevent, diagnose, and treat disease. Brachytherapy is the treatment of cancer with a radiation source that is applied in or near the tumor.

Radiation, external: the use of radiation delivered by special equipment that directs the radiation from outside the body through normal tissue to reach the cancer. This type of radiation to treat cancer often is given in short sessions over a period of time.

Radiation oncologist: a doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer.

Radiation technologist: a professional who checks and delivers the radiation dosage to make it as safe as possible.

Radiology: a branch of medicine that uses various imaging techniques to diagnose and treat a wide variety of diseases.

Radiologist: a doctor who reads and interprets X-rays and other imaging techniques.

Rectal bleeding: a symptom of digestive problems rather than a disease. Bleeding can occur as a result of a number of different conditions, many of which are not life-threatening. Most causes of bleeding are related to conditions that can be cured or controlled, such as hemorrhoids. However, rectal bleeding may be an early sign of rectal cancer so it is important to locate the source of the bleeding.

Rectal prolapse: dropping down of the rectum outside the anus.

Rectopexy: surgical placement of internal sutures (stitches) to secure the rectum in its proper position.

Rectum: an 8-inch chamber connected to the large intestine that receives solid waste (feces) from the descending colon to be expelled from the body. The rectum connects the colon to the anus. It is the rectum's job to receive stool from the colon, to let the person know that there is stool to be evacuated, and to hold the stool until evacuation happens.

Recurrence: the return of a disease after a period of remission.

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