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Medical Glossary

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  • ubiquinone
  • A nutrient that the body needs in small amounts to function and stay healthy. Ubiquinone helps mitochondria (small structures in the cell) make energy. It is an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage caused by free radicals (highly reactive chemicals). Ubiquinone is fat-soluble (can dissolve in fats and oils) and is found in fatty fish, beef, soybeans, peanuts, and spinach. It is being studied in the prevention and treatment of some types of cancer and heart disease and in the relief of side effects caused by some cancer treatments. Also called coenzyme Q10, CoQ10, Q10, and vitamin Q10.
  • UCN-01
  • An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called staurosporine analogs.
  • UFT
  • A substance being studied in the treatment of some types of cancer. It is a combination of tegafur and uracil. The tegafur is taken up by the cancer cells and breaks down into 5-FU, a substance that kills tumor cells. The uracil causes higher amounts of 5-FU to stay inside the cells and kill them. UFT is a type of antimetabolite. Also called Ftorafur, tegafur-uracil, and Uftoral.
  • Uftoral
  • A substance being studied in the treatment of some types of cancer. It is a combination of tegafur and uracil. The tegafur is taken up by the cancer cells and breaks down into 5-FU, a substance that kills tumor cells. The uracil causes higher amounts of 5-FU to stay inside the cells and kill them. Uftoral is a type of antimetabolite. Also called Ftorafur, tegafur-uracil, and UFT.
  • UGT1A1
  • A substance that is being studied as a treatment for cancer. It is an enzyme produced by the liver and intestine.
  • ulceration
  • A break on the skin, in the lining of an organ, or on the surface of a tissue. An ulcer forms when the surface cells become inflamed, die, and are shed. Ulcers may be linked to cancer and other diseases.
  • ulcerative colitis
  • Chronic inflammation of the colon that produces ulcers in its lining. This condition is marked by abdominal pain, cramps, and loose discharges of pus, blood, and mucus from the bowel.
  • Ulmus fulva
  • The inner bark of this plant has been used in some cultures to treat certain medical problems. It may have antioxidant effects. Also called gray elm, Indian elm, red elm, slippery elm, sweet elm, and Ulmus rubra.
  • Ulmus rubra
  • The inner bark of this plant has been used in some cultures to treat certain medical problems. It may have antioxidant effects. Also called gray elm, Indian elm, red elm, slippery elm, sweet elm, and Ulmus fulva.
  • Ultram
  • A drug used to treat moderate to severe pain in adults. It binds to opioid receptors in the central nervous system. Ultram is a type of analgesic agent and a type of opioid. Also called tramadol hydrochloride.
  • ultrasonogram
  • A computer picture of areas inside the body created by bouncing high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) off internal tissues or organs. Also called sonogram.
  • ultrasonography
  • A procedure in which high-energy sound waves are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echo patterns are shown on the screen of an ultrasound machine, forming a picture of body tissues called a sonogram. Also called ultrasound.
  • ultrasound biomicroscopy
  • A type of ultrasound eye exam that makes a more detailed image than regular ultrasound. High-energy sound waves are bounced off the inside of the eye and the echo patterns are shown on the screen of an ultrasound machine. This makes a picture called a sonogram.
  • ultrasound energy
  • A procedure in which high-energy sound waves are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echo patterns are shown on the screen of an ultrasound machine, forming a picture of body tissues called a sonogram. Also called ultrasonography.
  • ultrasound transducer
  • A device that produces sound waves that bounce off body tissues and make echoes. The transducer also receives the echoes and sends them to a computer that uses them to create a picture called a sonogram. Transducers (probes) come in different shapes and sizes for use in making pictures of different parts of the body. The transducer may be passed over the surface of the body or inserted into an opening such as the rectum or vagina.
  • ultrasound-guided biopsy
  • A biopsy procedure that uses an ultrasound imaging device to find an abnormal area of tissue and guide its removal for examination under a microscope.
  • ultraviolet radiation
  • Invisible rays that are part of the energy that comes from the sun. Ultraviolet radiation also comes from sun lamps and tanning beds. It can damage the skin and cause melanoma and other types of skin cancer. Ultraviolet radiation that reaches the Earth's surface is made up of two types of rays, called UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are more likely than UVA rays to cause sunburn, but UVA rays pass deeper into the skin. Scientists have long thought that UVB radiation can cause melanoma and other types of skin cancer. They now think that UVA radiation also may add to skin damage that can lead to skin cancer and cause premature aging. For this reason, skin specialists recommend that people use sunscreens that reflect, absorb, or scatter both kinds of ultraviolet radiation. Also called UV radiation.
  • ultraviolet radiation therapy
  • A form of radiation used in the treatment of cancer.
  • umbilical cord blood transplantation
  • Blood from the umbilical cord of a newborn baby. This blood contains high concentrations of stem cells (cells from which all blood cells develop).
  • unaffected
  • An individual who does not manifest symptoms of a condition or disease occurring in his or her family.
  • unclassified variant
  • A variation in a genetic sequence whose association with disease risk is unknown. Also called variant of uncertain significance, variant of unknown significance, and VUS.
  • uncontrolled study
  • A clinical study that lacks a comparison (i.e., a control) group.
  • unconventional cancer treatments
  • Approaches that use substances or methods of treating cancer that have not been shown to be effective by accepted scientific methods, such as carefully designed clinical trials.
  • underactive thyroid
  • Too little thyroid hormone. Symptoms include weight gain, constipation, dry skin, and sensitivity to the cold. Also called hypothyroidism.
  • undescended testicles
  • A condition in which one or both testicles fail to move from the abdomen, where they develop before birth, into the scrotum. Undescended testicles may increase the risk for development of testicular cancer. Also called cryptorchidism.
  • undifferentiated
  • A term used to describe cells or tissues that do not have specialized ("mature") structures or functions. Undifferentiated cancer cells often grow and spread quickly.
  • unguent
  • A substance used on the skin to soothe or heal wounds, burns, rashes, scrapes, or other skin problems. Also called ointment.
  • unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy
  • Having to do with one side of the body.
  • uninformative
  • A negative test result in an individual where a clearly deleterious mutation has not been found in any family members. The genetic risk status of such an individual must be interpreted in the context of his or her personal and family history. Also called inconclusive and indeterminate.
  • unresectable gallbladder cancer
  • Unable to be removed with surgery.
  • unresected
  • Describes an organ, tissue, or cancer that has not been either partly or completely removed by surgery.
  • unsealed internal radiation therapy
  • Radiation therapy given by injecting a radioactive substance into the bloodstream or a body cavity, or by swallowing it. This substance is not sealed in a container.
  • upper endoscopy
  • Examination of the inside of the stomach using an endoscope, passed through the mouth and esophagus. An endoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease. Also called gastroscopy.
  • upper gastrointestinal series
  • A series of x-ray pictures of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). The x-ray pictures are taken after the patient drinks a liquid containing barium sulfate (a form of the silver-white metallic element barium). The barium sulfate coats and outlines the inner walls of the upper gastrointestinal tract so that they can be seen on the x-ray pictures. Also called upper GI series.
  • upper GI series
  • A series of x-ray pictures of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). The x-ray pictures are taken after the patient drinks a liquid containing barium sulfate (a form of the silver-white metallic element barium). The barium sulfate coats and outlines the inner walls of the upper gastrointestinal tract so that they can be seen on the x-ray pictures. Also called upper gastrointestinal series.
  • urachus
  • A fibrous cord that connects the urinary bladder to the umbilicus (navel). The urachus is formed as the allantoic stalk during fetal development and lasts through life. Also called median umbilical ligament.
  • uracil
  • A chemical compound that is used to make one of the building blocks of RNA. It is a type of pyrimidine.
  • urea nitrogen
  • A substance formed by the breakdown of protein in the liver. The kidneys filter urea out of the blood and into the urine. Urea can also be made in the laboratory. A topical form of urea is being studied in the treatment of hand-foot syndrome (pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, or redness of the hands or feet that may occur as a side effect of certain anticancer drugs). Also called carbamide.
  • urea/lactic acid-based cream
  • A substance being studied in the treatment of hand-foot syndrome (a condition caused by chemotherapy and marked by tingling, numbness, and red, peeling skin). Urea/lactic acid-based cream is a moisturizer that may help break down the hardened protein in dry, scaly skin and relieve these symptoms.
  • ureteronephrectomy
  • The tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder.
  • ureteroscopy
  • Examination of the inside of the kidney and ureter, using a ureteroscope. A ureteroscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease. The ureteroscope is passed through the urethra into the bladder, ureter, and renal pelvis (part of the kidney that collects, holds, and drains urine).
  • urethral cancer
  • The tube through which urine leaves the body. It empties urine from the bladder.
  • uric acid
  • A waste product left over from normal chemical processes in the body and found in the urine and blood. Abnormal buildup of uric acid in the body may cause a condition called gout. Increased levels of uric acid in the blood and urine can be a side effect of chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
  • urinalysis
  • A test that determines the content of the urine.
  • urinary diversion
  • A surgical procedure to make a new way for urine to leave the body. It may involve redirecting urine into the colon, using catheters to drain the bladder, or making an opening in the abdomen and collecting urine in a bag outside the body.
  • urinary incontinence
  • Having to do with urine or the organs of the body that produce and get rid of urine.
  • urinary tract
  • The organs of the body that produce and discharge urine. These include the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.
  • urine cytology
  • Fluid containing water and waste products. Urine is made by the kidneys, stored in the bladder, and leaves the body through the urethra.
  • urokinase
  • A drug that dissolves blood clots or prevents them from forming. Also called u-plasminogen activator, uPA, and urokinase-plasminogen activator.
  • urologic oncologist
  • A doctor who specializes in treating cancers of the urinary system.
  • urologist
  • A doctor who specializes in diseases of the urinary organs in females and the urinary and sex organs in males.
  • urostomy
  • An operation to create an opening from inside the body to the outside, making a new way to pass urine.
  • urothelium
  • The lining of the urinary tract, including the renal pelvis, ureters, bladder, and urethra.
  • ursodiol
  • A drug that is used to dissolve gallstones in people who can’t have surgery to remove them. It is also being studied in the prevention of colorectal cancer. Ursodiol belongs to the family of drugs called anticholelithics.
  • urticaria
  • Itchy, raised red areas on the skin. Urticaria are caused by a reaction to certain foods, drugs, infections, or emotional stress. Also called hives.
  • uterine cancer
  • Cancer that forms in tissues of the uterus (the small, hollow, pear-shaped organ in a woman's pelvis in which a fetus develops). Two types of uterine cancer are endometrial cancer (cancer that begins in cells lining the uterus) and uterine sarcoma (a rare cancer that begins in muscle or other tissues in the uterus).
  • uterine sarcoma
  • A rare type of uterine cancer that forms in muscle or other tissues of the uterus (the small, hollow, pear-shaped organ in a woman's pelvis in which a fetus develops). It usually occurs after menopause. The two main types are leiomyosarcoma (cancer that begins in smooth muscle cells) and endometrial stromal sarcoma (cancer that begins in connective tissue cells).
  • uterus
  • The small, hollow, pear-shaped organ in a woman's pelvis. This is the organ in which a fetus develops. Also called womb.
  • UV radiation
  • Invisible rays that are part of the energy that comes from the sun. UV radiation also comes from sun lamps and tanning beds. It can damage the skin and cause melanoma and other types of skin cancer. UV radiation that reaches the Earth's surface is made up of two types of rays, called UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are more likely than UVA rays to cause sunburn, but UVA rays pass deeper into the skin. Scientists have long thought that UVB radiation can cause melanoma and other types of skin cancer. They now think that UVA radiation also may add to skin damage that can lead to skin cancer and cause premature aging. For this reason, skin specialists recommend that people use sunscreens that reflect, absorb, or scatter both kinds of UV radiation. Also called ultraviolet radiation.
  • UVA radiation
  • A type of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV rays are invisible rays that are part of the energy that comes from the sun. UVA radiation also comes from sun lamps and tanning beds. Scientists think that UVA radiation may cause skin damage that can lead to skin cancer and premature aging. For this reason, skin specialists recommend that people use sunscreens that reflect, absorb, or scatter ultraviolet radiation.
  • UVB radiation
  • A type of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV rays are invisible rays that are part of the energy that comes from the sun. UVB radiation causes sunburn, and scientists have long thought that it can cause melanoma and other types of skin cancer. Skin specialists recommend that people use sunscreens that reflect, absorb, or scatter ultraviolet radiation.
  • uvea
  • The middle layer of the wall of the eye. The uvea has 3 main parts: (1) the choroid (the tissue layer filled with blood vessels); (2) the ciliary body (the ring of muscle tissue that changes the size of the pupil and the shape of the lens); and (3) the iris (the colored part of the eye). Also called uveal tract.
  • uveal tract
  • The middle layer of the wall of the eye. The uveal tract has 3 main parts: (1) the choroid (the tissue layer filled with blood vessels); (2) the ciliary body (the ring of muscle tissue that changes the size of the pupil and the shape of the lens); and (3) the iris (the colored part of the eye). Also called uvea.
  • uvula
  • The soft flap of tissue that hangs down at the back of the mouth (at the edge of the soft palate). Also called palatine uvula.
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