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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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  • TISSUE

    These are cells that look alike and work together for a common task.
  • TOPICAL

    This means to be on the surface. A topical cream can be placed or rubbed on the skin.
  • TRANS

    This is a part of a word. It means across, through, or over. Transorbital means through the eye socket.
  • TRICHI, TRICHO, TRICHIA, TRICHOSIS

    This is part of a word. It means hair. Trichobezoar means hair ball.
  • TUMOR

    This is any growth of tissue that is not normal; it can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).
  • TUMOR MARKERS

    These are things in the blood, urine, or tissues. When they are found at higher than normal levels, it may mean there is cancer.
  • ULCER

    This is a sore on the skin or organ membrane. An ulcer can be caused by an infection or disease. A membrane is a tissue that covers an organ. A common type of ulcer is in the stomach.
  • UNDETECTABLE VIRAL LOAD (UD VL)

    This is when you don't have much virus in your body. A test does not find the small amount. You can still give the virus to someone else.

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