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Glossy's Lingo

definitions, slang + abbreviations

reminder: i am NOT a medical professional. the information below i have garnered from various sources. as always, i welcome your input!


AAC. augmentative and alternative communication. 

ACC. adenoid cystic carcinoma.

EL. electrolarynx.

Electrolarynx. a device that produces a vibration to act as a sound source when placed on the lateral neck, cheek, or in the mouth with an intraoral adapter. The external vibration replaces the vibration of the vocal folds by producing a tone. You may have heard this before, it creates a dull buzzing sound and slightly robotic sounding speech - no shade on EL users! - its a great means of speaking!

Glossectomee. a human with a glossectomy.

Glossectomy. a surgical removal of the tongue. the procedure is most often used to treat tongue cancer. some people only need a portion of their tongue removed, while other need their entire tongue removed. in some cases, tissue is taken from other parts of the body to create a new tongue.

   total glossectomy. removal of the entire tongue. the tongue is much a much larger muscle than just the piece you can see in your mouth, it extends far below that to basically to under your chin. it is a digestive organ that moves food around your mouth to help you both chew AND swallow. it also helps you make different sounds so you can form words. it keeps helps keep your airway open so you can breathe properly as well. it is covered with your taste buds. there is a misconception that different areas of the tongue taste different things. in reality, all of your taste buds have the ability to detect all five flavors. taste buds are also present on the soft palate, upper esophagus, the cheek and epiglottis. if you need a total glossectomy dont think this means you will still taste normally. hate to disappoint. it seems each of us total glossectomees have varying degrees of taste and sorts of altered taste. radiation treatment can also alter taste temporarily or permanently. 

GlossectomyGirl. superhero of epic proportions. often seen with her canine sidekick, Harlee.

Glossy. slang. (a) a glossectomee, a human with a glossectomy. (b) GlossectomyGirl's nickname. 

HME. Heat Moisture Exchanger

HNCA. Head and Neck Cancer Alliance. Organization whose mission is to advacne prevention, detection, treatment and rehabilitation of oral, head and neck cancer through public awareness, research, advocacy and survivorship. 

IAL. International Association of Laryngectomees. non-profit voluntary organization composed of member clubs. the purposes of IAL is to promote and support the total rehabilitation of the Laryngectomee by the exchange of ideas and dissemination of information to member clubs and to the public. 

Laryngectomy. An operation to remove all or part of the larynx (voice box). In a total laryngectomy the entire larynx is removed including the coval folds, hyoid bone, epiglottis, thyroid and cricoid cartilage and a few tracheal cartilage rings. The airway (trachea) is separated from the nose/mouth and esophagus. The trachea is brought forward below the level of the larynx and is sutured to the base of the neck just above the sternal notch, creating a permanent opening in the neck called a stoma. Therefore, the individual does not breathe through the upper airway. instead, breathing occurs through the stoma. 

Laryngectomee. A person whose larynx has been removed.

Lary. slang. a laryngectomee

Lary Tube. a flexible silicone tube designed to maintain the stoma after the laryngectomy surgery. it allows for use of an HME. While i wear my lary tube every other night as insurance on keeping my stoma stable, i am NOT a fan. I find it uncomfortable to turn my head. It feels like there is a piece of plastic tubing stuck in my throat, OH YEAH, because there is! It could be a me problem....

Lymphedema. refers to tissue swelling caused by an accumulation of prtein-rich fluid that's usually drained through the body's lymphatic system. Lymphedema can be caused by cancer treatment that remove or damage your lymph nodes. Severe cases can affect the ability to move, feeling of tightness, increase risks of skin infections and sepsis, and can lead to skin changes and breakdown. Treatment may include compression bandages, massage, sequential pneumatic pumping and skin care. My personal lymphedema of face and neck was so extreme that it caused me to have a massive underbite!


NED. no evidence of disease. why not no disease? ugh, because we never really know do we....but take it baby!


Non-verbal. not able to speak or use words. thing is i think there is a common association with this term and individuals who cant form or use words internally. i personally am not comfortable as identifying as non-verbal because of this connotation. 

PEG. Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastronomy. technically this is the PROCEDURE to place a feeding tube, PEG tube or G tube, through the skin directly into the stomach. PEG is often slang for the PEG tube itself. 

SCC. squamous cell carcinoma

SLP. speech language pathologist. A professional specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of speech, language and swallowing disorders. I always thought these were the folks that helped little kids with lisps - little did i know what an amazing range of services they provide. They will coach you through learning to swallow again, change out TEP prosthesis, teach you lymphatic massage and more!

Stoma. in reference to a laryngectomy, it is a permanent opening in the neck where the trachea (windpipe) has been brought forward below the level of the larynx and sutured just above the sternal notch. 100% of breathing for a laryngectomee occurs through the stoma.

TEP. tracheoesophageal puncture. slang for a tracheoesophageal voice prosthesis. 

TL. Total Laryngectomy.

TND. total neck dissection. alt: complete neck dissection. Neck dissection refers to the removal of lymph nodes and surrounding tissue from the neck for the purpose of cancer treatment. The purpose is to prevent further spread of that disease to other parts of the body. The extent of tissue removal varies considerably depending on the indication for surgery and the clinical circumstances. While incisions for this vary, it is often a slice across the neck in line with the stoma stretching almost ear to ear.

Tracheoesophageal Voice Prosthesis. a small plastic one way valve that is placed in the TEP, bridging between the esophagus and trachea. it allows air be pushed from the trachea into the esophagus, causing the esophagus walls to vibrate and air to flow out the mouth, which being shaped by the tongue, creates voice. 

Tracheostomy. a surgical opening to access the trachea with the entire larynx remaining intact. It ONLY affects the trachea (windpipe). As opposed to a laryngectomy, which affects the larynx (voice box). A tracheostomy is done to help someone breathe, while a laryngectomy is done when the larynx needs to be removed and seperated from the airway. In a tracheostomy the trachea and esophagus remain CONNECTED, versus a (total) laryngectomy where the are completely separated. Breathing with a laryngectomy ONLY happens through the stoma, whereas in a tracheostomy breathing may still occur also through the nose/mouth.


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