Beating bowel cancer together

A-Z of medical terms

Abdomen

The part of the body underneath the ribs and above the hips.

Adjuvant

Treatment used together with or after the main treatment to improve the chance of controlling the cancer.

Biological therapies

Drugs that change the way cancer cells work to stop them growing. Also called targeted therapies.

Biomarker testing

A test that looks for changes (known as mutations) in a group of genes to see which treatments may work and which ones are unlikely to work.

Biopsy

A sample of tissue taken to check for cancer.

Brachytherapy

Internal radiotherapy that uses a source of radiation inside the body for a short period of time.

Capecitabine

A type of chemotherapy drug, also known as Xeloda.

Chemotherapy

Treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells.

Colon

The longest part of the large bowel, which ends just above the rectum.

Colonoscopy

A test that uses a long thin tube with a camera on the end to look inside the colon and rectum.

Colostomy

Where a section of the large bowel is brought out onto an opening on your abdomen, allowing bowel motions (poo) to pass into a pouch or bag.

CT scan

Computerised tomography scan.A scan that uses X-rays to take a series of pictures of the body.

Endoscopy

A test which uses a small thin tube with a camera to look inside the body.

FAP

Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). A rare inherited bowel cancer syndrome that greatly increases the risk of getting bowel cancer. Causes a large number of growths (polyps) in the lining of the bowel.

Fluorouracil

A type of chemotherapy drug, also known as 5FU.

FOLFIRI

The name given to a combination of the following chemotherapy drugs:

  • folinic acid
  • fluorouracil (5FU)
  • irinotecan

 

FOLFOX

The name given to a combination of the following chemotherapy drugs:

  • folinic acid
  • fluorouracil (5FU)
  • oxaliplatin

 

Genes

A set of instructions that control how the cells in your body grow and work. Genes are inherited from your parents. They control things like eye colour.

Grade

A way to describe how quickly a cancer might grow and spread. A low grade cancer may grow more slowly and is less likely to spread than a high grade cancer.

Ileostomy

Where a section of small bowel is brought out onto an opening on your abdomen, allowing bowel motions (poo) to pass into a pouch or bag.

Irinotecan

A type of chemotherapy drug, also known as Campto.

Large bowel

Part of the digestive system made up of the colon and the rectum.

Lymph nodes

Small glands that make up part of the lymphatic system, which defends the body against infection. They are a common place for colon or rectal cancer to spread to.

Lynch syndrome

A genetic condition that can increase the lifetime risk of bowel cancer to up to 80% and can increase the risk of some other cancers including womb and ovarian.

MAP

MUTYH associated polyposis (MAP). A rare inherited bowel cancer syndrome that causes growths (polyps) in the lining of the bowel and increases the risk of bowel cancer.

MDT

Multidisciplinary team. The healthcare professionals looking after you who meet regularly as a team.

MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging. A scan that uses magnets to produce pictures of the body.

Microwave ablation

Treatment for bowel cancer that has spread to the liver. It uses heat from microwave energy to kill cancer cells.

Neo-adjuvant

Treatment used before the main treatment to improve the chance of controlling the cancer.

Oxaliplatin

A type of chemotherapy drug, also known as Eloxatin.

Pathologist

A doctor who looks at cells under a microscope to see how normal or abnormal they look.

Pelvis

The area of the body between the hips.

Polyp

A non-cancerous growth. Polyps can grow in the lining of the body’s organs, including the bowel. Some polyps may develop into cancer over time.

PET scan

Positron emission tomography. A scan that uses a low dose of radiation to take pictures of the whole body.

Radiofrequency ablation

Treatment for bowel cancer that has spread to the liver. It uses radio waves to heat cancer cells to a high temperature.

Radiotherapy

Treatment that uses high energy radiation to kill cancer cells.

RAS

A group of genes that a doctor might look at as part of a biomarker test. If the cancer has a normal RAS gene, it’s known as ‘RAS wild type’. If it’s abnormal, it’s called a ‘mutated RAS gene’.

Rectum

Part of the large bowel that sits between the colon and the anus. Bowel motions (poo) are stored here before passing out of the anus.

Selective internal radiotherapy (SIRT)

Treatment for bowel cancer that has spread to the liver. It involves injecting millions of tiny radioactive beads into the liver.

Sigmoidoscopy

A type of endoscopy (a test that uses a long thin tube with a camera on the end) to look inside the rectum and sigmoid colon.

Stage

A way to describe the size of a cancer, where it is and how far it has spread.

Stereotactic radiotherapy

Treatment for bowel cancer that has spread to the liver. It uses a machine, called Cyberknife, to target high doses of radiotherapy to the tumour, while limiting the dose to the surrounding healthy tissue.

Stoma

An opening on the abdomen, where a section of bowel is brought out so bowel motions (poo) can be passed into a pouch or bag.

Ultrasound scan

A scan that uses sound waves to build up a picture of the body.

 

Updated August 2018. Due for review March 2019.

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