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Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition

The BCG vaccine (named after the two doctors who developed it - Bacillus Calmette-Guérin), is the vaccination against tuberculosis.

Beta blocker

A large group of medications that act to block specific receptors in the nervous system. The effect of beta-blockade results in slowing of the heart rate, reduction in blood pressure and reduced anxiety.


A biopsy is a medical procedure that involves taking a small sample of tissue so it can be examined under a microscope. Biopsies are used to identify abnormal cells. The result of a biopsy can often help healthcare professionals to diagnose a wide range of conditions.

Blood transfusion

Blood transfusion involves taking blood from one person (a donor) and giving it to another. Blood transfusions are sometimes needed to replace blood lost in major accidents, during life-saving operations and after childbirth.


BME – abbreviation: Black and Minority Ethnic

Bone density scan

A bone density scan, called a dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan, measures the density of bones and compares this to a normal range.

Bone marrow

Bone marrow is the soft, jelly-like tissue that is found in the hollow centre of all large bones. It contains stem cells which produce red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body, white blood cells that fight infection, and platelets that help stop bleeding.

Bone marrow transplant

Bone marrow transplants are necessary when the bone marrow becomes so diseased, or damaged, that it does not function properly.


BRCA2 is a gene that increases the risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer in women and breast and prostate cancer in men. Out of every 100 women who have a faulty version of this gene, between 80 and 85 will develop breast cancer at some point in their life (80 to 85% lifetime risk). Ovarian cancer lifetime risk is about 27%. Male carriers have an increased risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Definition from Cancer Research UK: BRCA2


BRCA2 is a gene that increases the risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer in women and breast and prostate cancer in men.


Bronchiectasis is a condition that affects the lungs. It causes a persistent cough and an excess amount of sputum (phlegm).


Bronchitis is an infection of the main airways of the lungs (bronchi), which causes them to become inflamed.

Brugada syndrome

Brugada syndrome is a condition that causes a disruption of the heart's normal rhythm. Specifically, this disorder can lead to uncoordinated electrical activity in the heart's lower chambers (ventricles), an abnormality called ventricular arrhythmia.

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