Glossary

abdomen - the part of the body between the ribs and your groin, often called the stomach.

alcohol ablation - injection of ethanol (alcohol) directly into a liver tumour to destroy the cancer cells.

anastomosis - where the bowel is rejoined after a section has been removed during surgery.

anus - entrance to rectum.

benign - not cancerous. Benign cells are not able to spread elsewhere in the body.

biopsy - the removal of a small amount of cells or tissue from the body, so that it can then be examined under a microscope.

bowel motion - also known as faeces or excrement.

carcinoma in situ - a malignant tumour that is confined to its original site.

cells - the ‘building blocks’ of the body. A human is made of millions of cells, which are adapted for different functions. Cells are able to reproduce themselves exactly, unless they are abnormal or damaged, as are cancer cells.

colon - large bowel.

colonoscope or colonoscopy - a colonoscope is a long flexible tube inserted through the rectum into the bowel. A specialist can look down the tube to check for signs of cancer.

colostomy - an opening in the skin of the abdomen to which the large bowel is attached.

Crohn’s disease - chronic inflammatory disease of unknown origin usually affecting the small or large bowel or both.

cryotherapy - liver tumours are frozen and destroyed using liquid nitrogen probes.

CT colonography - CT scan looking into the colon but not using a scope.

CT scan - previously known as a CAT scan. A series of X-rays that are built up to give a picture of the part X-rayed.

genes - the codes contained in DNA in each cell that control the way the body’s cells grow and behave. Each person has a set of many thousands of genes inherited from both parents. Genes are found in every cell of the body.

ileum - the small bowel.

lymph glands or nodes - are small kidney bean-shaped sacs scattered along the lymphatic system that filter infection and cancer cells. There are lymph nodes in the abdomen, neck, armpit and groin.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan - similar to a CT scan, but this test uses magnetism instead of X-rays to build up cross-sectional pictures of the body.

malignant - a tumour that is cancerous and is likely to spread if it is not treated.

metastasis - when a cancer has spread from the original site to another part of the body. It can also be called a ‘secondary cancer’. It is sometimes shortened to ‘mets’.

palliative - controlling the symptoms of a disease rather than curing it.

polyp - a small growth in the bowel. It can be either cancerous or not cancerous.

polypectomy - removal of a polyp.

radio frequency ablation - uses electrical current passed through a small needle placed directly into a liver tumour to destroy cancer cells with heat.

rectum - back passage/final section of the large intestine.

resection - surgical removal of a portion of any part of the body.

secondary - the same as metastasis.

stenting - when a tube made of metal or plastic is inserted into the bowel or a duct to keep it open and prevent closure when a tumour is growing rapidly.

stomal therapist - a registered nurse who specialises in caring for people who have stomas.

tumour - a swelling or lump. Tumours can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

ulcerative colitis - a chronic, episodic, inflammatory disease of the large bowel and rectum.

ultrasound - sound waves of a very high frequency (higher than the human ear can hear). If ultrasound is directed at the body it is reflected back differently by different types of tissue. In an ultrasound scan, these differences are measured and used to build up pictures of structures in the body. Ultrasound pictures are usually taken by an ultrasound technician, who guides the scanning probe by watching the images on a screen like a television. The pictures recorded will be given to a specialist who will prepare a report, which your own doctor will discuss with you.

virtual colonoscopy - see CT colonography.