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Medical Term Dictionary - E
medical terms

Early-stage breast cancer - When cancer is limited to the breast and has not spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Also called in situ, or localized, breast cancer.

Eclampsia - Convulsions that occur during pregnancy, usually at the later stages or during delivery. Although the cause is not known, the start of convulsions may be associated with cerebral oedemaor a sudden rise in blood pressure. The condition requires immediate treatment as it threatens both mother and baby. Treatment is by drugs and reduction of outside stimuli, and a Caesarean section is needed.

Ectopic pregnancy - A pregnancy in which the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus.

Eczema - Irritation of the skin or nipple of a breast which may appear as redness, a rash, scaliness or crusty areas alone or in combination.

Edema - Excess fluid in the body or a body part that usually causes puffiness or swelling.

Ejaculation - The emission of semen from the penis via the urethra. It is a reflex action produced during copulation or masturbation, and the sensation associated with it is orgasm.

Electron beam boost - Use of radioactive particles to target a specific area of the body with additional radiation treatments.

Embryo - The first stage of development of a foetus after the fertilized ovum is implanted in the uterus until the second month.

Embryo transfer - The fertilization of an ovum by sperm and its development into an early embryo, outside the mother, and its subsequent implantation in the mother's uterus. Such procedures result in what is popularly termed a 'test-tube baby.

Empirical - Based on practical experience but not proven scientifically.

Endocrine Manipulation - The use of hormonal medications to treat breast problems.

Endogenous estrogen - Estrogen that is produced within the body.

Endometriosis - The occurrence of endometrium in other parts of the body, e.g. within the muscle of the uterus, in the ovary, Fallopian tubes, peritoneum and possibly the bowel. Because of the nature of the tissue, it acts in a way similar to that of the uterus lining and causes pelvic pain, bleeding and painful menstruation.

Endometritis - Inflammation of the endometrium caused commonly by bacteria but can also be because of a virus, parasite or foreign body. It is associated with fever and abdominal pain and occurs mainly after abortion or childbirth or in women with an intrauterine contraceptive device.

Endometrium - The womb's mucous membrane lining that changes in structure during the menstrual cycle, becoming thicker with an increased blood supply later in the cycle. This is in readiness for receiving an embryo, but if this does not happen, the endometrium breaks down and most is lost in menstruation.

Endoscopic surgery (or minimally invasive surgery) - Operating through short incisions using special long instruments. The operative cavity is visualized through small video cameras attached to the endoscope; these cameras project a video image of the tissues beneath the skin on the video monitor via fiberoptic light. This technique is commonly used in many general surgery operations and can also be used for plastic surgery operations to obtain distant tissue for breast reconstruction.

Engorgement - An area of the body that is filled and stretched with fluid or distended with blood,

Enzyme - An organic catalyst produced by living cells but capable of faceting in dependently. Enzymes produce chemical changes without being changed themselves.

Epidermal growth factor receptors - Indirect measurements of the rate of tumour growth. They along with hormone receptor tests can be used to predict how a patient will respond to hormone therapy.

Episiotomy - The process of making an incision in the perineum to enlarge a woman's vaginal opening to facilitate delivery of a child. The technique is used to prevent tearing of the perineum.

Erection - The condition in which erectile tissue in the penis (and to some degree in the clitoris) is engorged with blood, making it swell and become hard. It is the result primarily of sexual arousal, although it can occur during sleep because of physical stimulation. It also occurs in young boys. It is a prerequisite of vaginal penetration for emission of semen.

Estrogen - The female sex hormone produced by the ovary. Estrogens are responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics and for cyclic changes in the wiginal epithelit,m and cndothclium of the uterus.

Estrogen Receptor Assay (ERA) - A test that is done on cancerous tissue to see if a breasfcancer is hormone-dependent and can be treated with hormonal therapy. The test will reveal if your cancer is estrogen receptor positive or negative.

Exaggerated Hormonal Response - Increased lumpiness or pain in the breasts which varies with monthly hormonal cycle. May cause mild to severe pain. Also may make breast self-exam difficult, due to an increased degree of lumpiness.

Excislonal biopsy - Surgical removal of tissue by opening the skin and removing the suspected tissue for pathologic examination.

Expander - A polyurethane flexible implant that is placed under the tissue and is enlarged manually by inserting a fluid, usually saline.

Extracellular - Outside a cell or cells.