Friday, April 12, 2013

Pancreatic Cancer: Glossary of Terms (E)

- E -

EGFR Inhibitor: Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Inhibitor or HER1: A type of drug that targets the Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 1 protein. The EGFR protein is found on the surface of some cancer cells and is responsible for the growth of cancerous cells. Erlotinib (Tarceva) is currently the only EGFR Inhibitor approved by the FDA for the treatment of locally advanced and metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Electrolytes: Electrically charged minerals that help to maintain (1) the proper amount and kind of fluid in every compartment of the body, and (2) the acid-base (pH) balance of the body. Electrolytes include sodium, potassium, chloride, and magnesium.

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Emesis: Vomit.

Endocrine: Pertaining to hormones and the glands that make and secrete them into the bloodstream through which they travel to affect distant organs. The endocrine sites include the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, pineal gland, thyroid, parathyroids, heart (which makes atrial-natriuretic peptide), the stomach and intestines, islets of Langerhans in the pancreas, the adrenal glands, the kidney (which makes renin, erythropoietin, and calcitriol), fat cells (which make leptin), the testes, the ovarian follicle (estrogens) and the corpus luteum in the ovary). Endocrine is as opposed to exocrine. (The exocrine glands include the salivary glands, sweat glands and glands within the gastrointestinal tract.)

Endocrinologist: A medical doctor who specializes in the treatment of hormonal abnormalities.

Endometiosis: A benign condition in which tissue that looks like endometrial tissue grows in abnormal places in the abdomen.

Endoscope: A lighted optical instrument that is used to get a deep look inside the body. An endoscope, which may be rigid or flexible, can be used to examine organs, such as the throat or esophagus. Specialized endoscopes are named for where they are intended to look. Examples include the cystoscope (bladder), nephroscope (kidney), bronchoscope (bronchi), laryngoscope (larynx), otoscope (ear), arthroscope (joint), laparoscope (abdomen), and gastrointestinal endoscopes.

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Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): An endoscope is passed through the patient's mouth. This procedure uses a dye to highlight the bile ducts in your pancreas. During ERCP, a thin, flexible tube (endoscope) is gently passed down your throat, through your stomach and into the upper part of your small intestine. Air is used to inflate your intestinal tract so that your doctor can more easily see the openings of your pancreatic and bile ducts. A dye is then injected into the ducts through a small hollow tube (catheter) that's passed through the endoscope. Finally, X-rays are taken of the ducts. A tissue or cell sample (biopsy) can be collected during ERCP. ERCP also can be used therapeutically, for placement of a bile duct stent to relieve jaundice.

Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS): Similar to endoscopy, EUS involves the insertion of a thin tube through the mouth and into the stomach. At the tip of the tube is a small ultrasound probe that bounces sound waves off the walls of the stomach. Because the stomach is located next to the pancreas, EUS provides highly detailed pictures of the pancreas. This method can be extremely useful in evaluating pancreatic masses or cysts and can assist in removing pancreatic cells and fluid for analysis.

Enzyme: A protein (or protein-based molecule) that speeds up a chemical reaction in a living organism. An enzyme acts as catalyst for specific chemical reactions, converting a specific set of reactants (called substrates) into specific products. Without enzymes, life as we know it would not exist.

Enzyme replacement: A strategy designed to replace missing enzyme activity in a patient. This strategy currently involves the administration of a purified protein (the enzyme) by intravenous infusion.

EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid): An omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid found in fish oils. EPA has been found to stabilize weight in tumor-induced weight loss.

Esophagus: The muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach and serves as a passageway for food.

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Estrogen: A female hormone.

ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography): A test used to visualize and examine the pancreas and bile ducts. A tube is inserted through a patient's nose (or throat), down through the esophagus and stomach then into the small intestine (duodenum). There, a small probe is inserted into the ampulla of Vater. A dye is injected through the probe and into the pancreatic and bile ducts. X-rays are then taken and the pancreatic and bile ducts can be seen as white structures (this is because the injected dye is opaque. Because pancreas cancers often block the pancreatic and/or bile ducts, this technique can be useful in establishing a diagnosis of pancreas cancer.

Erlotinib (Tarceva): A targeted therapy drug approved in 2005 by the FDA to treat advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma. It inhibits the growth of cancerous cells by blocking the Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) 1 on the surface of some cancer cells.

Everolimus (Afinitor): A targeted therapy drug approved in 2011 by the FDA to treat advanced pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. It inhibits the growth of cancer cells by blocking the Mammalian Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) protein. It may also stop the formation of blood vessels that provide nutrients and oxygen to the tumor.

Exocrine: Pertaining to the secretion of a substance out through a duct. The exocrine glands include the salivary glands, sweat glands and glands within the gastrointestinal tract. Exocrine is as opposed to endocrine which refers to the secretion of a substance (a hormone) into the bloodstream. The exocrine glands are the "glands of external secretion" while the endocrine glands are "glands of internal secretion."

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Experimental Treatment: A drug, medical device, or a combination of treatments being tested in humans for use in a specific disease or disorder. An experimental treatment for pancreatic cancer may or may not already have FDA approval to treat another disease or condition. Also called an investigational treatment/therapy.

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