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What Did My Doctor Say?

The special words doctors and nurses use can be hard to understand. You may see or hear these words at your doctor’s office, on the Internet, on the radio or TV, or in newspapers or magazines. We call these words “medspeak.” The Medical Library Association created this site to help you understand what a doctor or nurse tells you. You’ll find tips on how to understand many health words. The terms on this site were created with the help of the Working Group for Health Literacy, Massachusetts Health Sciences Library Network (MAHSLIN)

    This is the end of a word. It means taking away by surgery. An "appendectomy" is surgery to take out your appendix.

    This is part of a word. When used at the end of a word, it means producing. Pathogenesis means disease-producing.
  • -ITIS

    This is part of a word. It means swelling. Swelling can be caused by an wound, break, or infection in your body. Tonsillitis means swelling of the tonsils. Signs of swelling are redness, pain, or heat.
  • -OMA

    This is part of a word. It means a large bunch of cells. It is in lymphoma. This is cancer where white blood cells grow faster than they should and make a tumor.
  • -OSIS

    This is part of a word. It comes at the end of a word. It means that something is not normal. Trichinosis means having a worm in your stomach, gut, or muscles.
  • a.c.

    ante cibum, before meals
  • āā

    - ana, so much of each

    This word means pus formed in the body to fight germs that cause infection.