Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pancreatic Cancer: Glossary of Terms (T-X)

- T -

Tail of the pancreas: The thin tip of gland in the left part of abdomen, near the spleen.

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Targeted Therapy: A type of treatment that attacks unique aspects of cancer cells with potentially little harm to healthy cells.

Therapy: The treatment of disease. Therapy is synonymous with treatment.

Thromboplebitis: An inflammation of the veins accompanied by thrombus formation. It is sometimes referred to as Trousseau's sign.

Thrombus: A clot within the cardiovascular system. It may occlude (block) the vessel or may be attached to the wall of the vessel without blocking the blood flow.

Tomography: The process for generating a tomogram, a two-dimensional image of a slice or section through a three-dimensional object. Tomography achieves this remarkable result by simply moving an X-ray source in one direction as the X-ray film is moved in the opposite direction during the exposure to sharpen structures in the focal plane, while structures in other planes appear blurred. The tomogram is the picture; the tomograph is the apparatus; and tomography is the process.

Total Pancreatectomy: Surgical removal of entire pancreas.

Toxicity: The degree to which a substance (a toxin or poison) can harm humans or animals. Acute toxicity involves harmful effects in an organism through a single or short-term exposure. Subchronic toxicity is the ability of a toxic substance to cause effects for more than one year but less than the lifetime of the exposed organism. Chronic toxicity is the ability of a substance or mixture of substances to cause harmful effects over an extended period, usually upon repeated or continuous exposure, sometimes lasting for the entire life of the exposed organism.

Treatment port: The place on the body at which the radiation beam is aimed.

Trypsin: An enzyme of pancreatic juice that hydrolyzes proteins into smaller polypeptide units.
Tumor: An abnormal mass of tissue. Tumors are a classic sign of inflammation, and can be benign or malignant (cancerous). There are dozens of different types of tumors. Their names usually reflect the kind of tissue they arise in, and may also tell you something about their shape or how they grow. For example, a medulloblastoma is a tumor that arises from embryonic cells (a blastoma) in the inner part of the brain (the medulla). Diagnosis depends on the type and location of the tumor. Tumor marker tests and imaging may be used; some tumors can be seen (for example, tumors on the exterior of the skin) or felt (palpated with the hands).

Tumor debulking: Surgically removing as much of the tumor as possible.

Tumor marker: A substance detectable in the blood or urine that suggests the presence of cancer.

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- U –

Ultrasound: High-frequency sound waves. Ultra-sound waves can be bounced off tissues by using special devices. The echoes are then converted into a picture called a sonogram. Ultrasound imaging allows an inside view of soft tissues and body cavities without the use of invasive techniques.

Ultrasound probe: Ultrasound is a technique doctors use to create images of the organs in your body. An ultrasound probe is a device that lets the ultrasound machine focus on an area of your body. The ultrasound machine can then sends out high-frequency sound waves, which reflect off parts of your body to create a picture.

Uncinate process of the pancreas: The part of the gland that bends backwards and underneath the body of the pancreas. Two very important blood vessels, the superior mesenteric artery and vein, cross in front of this process.

Unresectable: Unable to be removed (resected) by surgery.

Urine: Liquid waste produced by the kidneys. Urine is a clear, transparent fluid that normally has an amber color. The average amount of urine excreted in 24 hours is between 5 to 8 cups or 40 and 60 ounces. Chemically, urine is mainly a watery solution of salt and substances called urea and uric acid. Normally, it contains about 960 parts water to 40 parts solid matter. Abnormally, it may contain sugar (in diabetes), albumin (a protein, as in some forms of kidney disease), bile pigments (as in jaundice), or abnormal quantities of one or another of its normal components.

Urea: Main waste material in urine.

- V –

Vaccination: A vaccination is an injection a doctor can give you to protect you from getting an infectious illness (an illness that spreads between people).

Vaccine therapy: This is a new type of treatment, largely still experimental. It is a medication made of killed or weakened cells, organisms or manufactured materials, which is used to boost the body's immune system. Ideally, this will allow the body to fight and kill the cancer cells more effectively. Vaccines include whole killed cancer cells or specific proteins from the cancer. 

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Vital: Necessary to maintain life. For example, breathing is a vital function.

- W –

Weight loss: Weight loss is a decrease in body weight resulting from either voluntary (diet, exercise) or involuntary (illness) circumstances. Most instances of weight loss arise due to the loss of body fat, but in cases of extreme or severe weight loss, protein and other substances in the body can also be depleted. Examples of involuntary weight loss include the weight loss associated with cancer, malabsorption (such as from chronic diarrhea), and chronic inflammation (such as with rheumatoid arthritis).

Whipple procedure: A type of surgery that is used to treat pancreatic cancer and was devised by the US surgeon Allen Whipple. The head of the pancreas, the duodenum, a portion of the stomach, and other nearby tissues are removed.

White blood cells: Cells produced by the bone marrow and lymph nodes. They help the body fight infection.

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- X –

X-ray: High-energy radiation with waves shorter than those of visible light. X-ray is used in low doses to make images that help to diagnose diseases and in high doses to treat cancer.

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