Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pancreatic Cancer: Glossary of Terms (F-H)





- F –

5-FU (5-fluorouracil): A chemotherapeutic drug used to treat pancreatic cancer.

Family history: The family structure and relationships within the family, including information about diseases in family members.

Fatigue: A condition characterized by a lessened capacity for work and reduced efficiency of accomplishment, usually accompanied by a feeling of weariness and tiredness. Fatigue can be acute and come on suddenly or chronic and persist.

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First Line Therapy: The first type of treatment given for a condition or disease.

Fluoroscopy: Use of an x-ray machine to examine parts of the body directly rather than taking a picture and developing it, as in conventional x-rays. Fluoroscopy uses more radiation than a single x-ray.

Forceps: An instrument used by a surgeon for grasping or extracting tissue.

Forceps Biopsy: In a forceps biopsy, forceps are passed through the endoscope and a small piece of tissue is removed.  A tissue sample can also be taken during surgery.

FOS (Fructooligosaccharide) Fiber: A soluble fiber that is not digested in the gastrointestinal tract. FOS stimulates the growth of healthy intestinal bacteria to restore or maintain the lining of the colon that may have been damaged by disease or medicines. FOS enhances water and electrolyte absorption and helps fight against diarrhea.


- G –


Gallbladder: A pear-shaped organ located below the liver that stores the bile secreted by the liver. During and after a fatty meal, the gallbladder contracts, delivering the bile through the bile ducts into the intestines to help with digestion.

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Gallstones: Stones that form when substances in the bile harden. Gallstones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. There can be just one large stone, hundreds of tiny stones, or any combination.

Gastrectomy: Surgery to remove part of all of the stomach.

Gastrin: The major hormone that regulates acid secretion in the stomach.

Gastroenterologist: A physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the digestive system.

Gastrointestinal: Adjective referring collectively to the stomach and small and large intestines.

Gemzar (Gemcitabine): A chemotherapy drug frequently used to treat pancreatic cancer. It has been shown, in controlled clinical trials, to improve quality of life.

General anesthetic: A type of medicine, given to make patients unconscious so they don't feel pain when they have surgery.

Genes: Your genes are the parts of your cells that contain instructions for how your body works. Genes are found on chromosomes, structures that sit in the nucleus at the middle of each of your cells. You have 23 pairs of chromosomes in your normal cells, each of which has thousands of genes. You get one set of chromosomes, and all of the genes that are on them, from each of your parents.

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Gland: An organ that produces and releases one or more substances. The pancreas is both an endocrine gland and an exocrine gland.

Glucagon: A hormone produced by the endocrine (islets of Langerhans) cells of the pancreas. When blood sugar levels are low, glucagon acts to raise blood sugar levels.

Glucose: A simple sugar that provides a major energy source for the body. Carbohydrates are metabolized to form glucose for use by the body.

Glucose Intolerance: A condition marked by elevated blood glucose levels. Symptoms include high thirst, frequent urination, and fatigue.


- H –


Head of the pancreas: The widest part of the pancreas. It is found in the right part of abdomen, nestled in the curve of the duodenum, which forms an impression in the side of the pancreas.

Hemorrhage: Bleeding or the abnormal flow of blood. The patient may have an internal hemorrhage that is invisible or an external hemorrhage that is visible on the outside of the body. Bleeding into the spleen or liver is internal hemorrhage. Bleeding from a cut on the face is an external hemorrhage.

Hereditary: A trait that is carried by genes from one generation to the next.

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Hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndrome: The term hereditary breast-ovarian cancer (HBOC) refers to families in which individuals have suffered from breast cancer and ovarian cancer (either one individual suffered from both, or several individuals in the pedigree suffered from one or the other disease). Physicians, and especially genetic counselors, use the term hereditary breast-ovarian cancer (or HBOC) to refer to a family in which they suspect a hereditary factor to cause the pattern of breast and ovarian cancer occurrences in the family.

Hereditary pancreatitis: Hereditary Pancreatitis is a genetic disease affecting enzyme production in the pancreas. In the pancreas, a genetic mutation causes the enzyme cationin trypsinogen to be made in a way which renders it resistant to inactivation through autolysis. Normally this autolysis mechanism prevents trypsinogen from being activated within the pancreas. However, when the abnormal trypsinogen is activated, it causes a chain reaction where all the trypsinogen in the pancreas is activated, effectively digesting the pancreas from the inside.

Home Care: The most common type of hospice in which the hospice staff visits the private home to assess the survivor's condition and manage symptoms. Most of the survivor's day-to-day care is provided by a family member or close friend.

Hormones: Hormones are chemicals that are made in certain parts of the body. They travel through the bloodstream and have an effect on other parts of the body.

Hormone therapy: Treatment of cancer by changing hormone levels.

Hospice: A program or facility that provides special care for people who are near the end of life and for their families. Hospice care can be provided at home, in a hospice or other freestanding facility, or within a hospital.

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Hospice Team: A group of health professionals who work with the caregivers to provide end-of-life care for the cancer survivor. The health professionals on the hospice team include the hospice physician, hospice registered nurse, home health aides/certified nursing assistants, social worker, chaplain, volunteers, and bereavement counselor.

Hyperparathyroidism: A condition caused by excessive amounts of parathyroid hormone which invokes an excessive amount of calcium and phosphates in the blood. It affects the functions of many cells and causes weakened bones.

Hypoglycemia: An abnormally low level of sugar in the blood, most commonly caused by excessive doses of insulin in people with diabetes or by excessive ingestion of alcohol or certain other drugs. It can cause weakness, dizziness, disorientation, and, if prolonged, permanent brain damage.



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