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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)
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  • DIS

    This is part of a word. It can mean “not”. A dislocated bone is not in the right place.
  • DNA

    This is short for “deoxyribonucleic acid”. DNA is in each cell in your body and tells the cells what proteins to make. The proteins control what the cell will do.
  • DNA (DEOXYRIBONUCLEIC ACID)

    This is the material in the body that holds information about you like hair color and eye color. It is found in each cell. Parents pass on their DNA to their children.
  • DORSOCERVICAL FAT PAD

    This is the same as "Buffalo hump," and is extra fat on the upper back and neck. It is caused by taking HIV drugs.
  • DRUG RESISTANCE

    This is when certain bacteria, viruses, and parasites don’t die when treated with some drugs. Once they develop resistance, they can survive and grow, or other drugs have to be used to kill them.
  • DRUG-DRUG INTERACTION

    This means there is a change in the way a drug works when it is taken at the same time as another drug.
  • DUCTAL CARCINOMA IN SITU (DCIS

    These are cells in the breast duct that are not normal; they do not spread but may lead to breast cancer if not taken out.
  • DUCTS

    These are tubes or channels that carry body fluids; for example, breast ducts (mammary glands) bring milk to the nipple.

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