HealthTermFinder 2020

HealthTermFinder termbanks are an open-ended set focusing on the terminology of common types of cancer. They are designed for the public, especially people with cancer and their families and carers, to help decode the terminology they’re confronted with in medical reports and advice offered online.  So far 7 cancer termbanks and 1 focusing on lymphedema have been created, with others in the pipeline for 2020-2.

Each termbank is based on a corpus (computer database) of two kinds of online cancer information from websites designed for the public and for health care professionals. This helps to identify differences in the range of medical terms used in each, and where they overlap. Lexicographers in the Linguistics Department at Macquarie University work with the University’s medical specialists to provide accurate and up-to-date information about each cancer, while ensuring it is written in accessible language with helpful examples, and graphics and explanatory tables as visual support.

HealthTermFinder’s termbanks are successively translated into Mainland Chinese (Mandarin), under an agreement between Macquarie University and Fudan University in Shanghai. Once all the English content has been developed, supported by grants from Macquarie University, the staff from Fudan University’s College of Foreign Languages and Literature (in collaboration with its Medical School) provide up-to-date translations for their medical students, and for our use in Australia.  These translations can be accessed from the Translation Options in the left-hand column on the homepage.

NOTES on the HealthTermFinder termbanks

  • BOWEL CANCER (57 term pages) Anatomical terms need special attention in this termbank, partly because of the alternative names used.  The cancer itself is also known as colonic (or colorectal) cancer, after the colon which is otherwise known as the large bowel or large intestine. The complementary terms are small bowel and small intestine.
  • BREAST CANCER (68 term pages) The terminology included in this termbank includes both standard medical terms (as head terms) and common informal alternatives mentioned as well. Thus a search query for armpit will take you to the pages for axilla and axillary, and a search for falsies goes to breast prosthesis.
  • ESOPHAGEAL CANCER (87 term pages) Both esophageal and oesophageal are current spellings, but the first is more frequent world-wide, and simpler in terms of pronunciation. We chose it as the head term for that reason, but both spellings can be found in examples on individual term pages.
  • LIVER CANCER (75 term pages) This termbank explains challenging Greek compounds relating to liver cancer such as cholangiocarcinoma and haemachromatosis, and the various terms formed with hepat(o)- (Greek for “liver”), including hepatitis and the 7 different types of it (A – G) now recognised. 
  • LUNG CANCER (61 term pages) The complex anatomy of the lungs and the respiratory system is illustrated in diagrams on the pages for trachea, bronchi, bronchioles, alveoli, pleura – helping to explain the problems of lung cancer, and other issues such as bronchitis and pleurisy.
  • LYMPHEDEMA (81 term pages) Both lymphedema and lymphoedema are current spellings, but the first is more frequent world-wide, and clearly in terms of pronunciation. We chose it as the head term for that reason, but both spellings can be found in examples on individual term pages). The termbank includes the various acronyms used in lymphedema treatments.
  • PROSTATE CANCER (83 term pages) Terms associated with the anatomy and physiology of the prostate are explained with diagrams, as well as the various acronyms associated with diagnosis and treatment.
  • SKIN CANCER (86 term pages) The 2 common types of skin cancer (basal cell, squamous cell) with their local patterns of development are distinguished from the more dangerous melanoma and its more invasive stages.