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What are some common medical abbreviations?

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Common medical abbreviations include VC for "vital capacity," UA for "urinalysis," Sx for "symptoms," NAD for "no active disease" and CA for "cancer," according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Association. Other examples include DX for "diagnosis," DNR for "do not resuscitate" and NKA for "no known allergies."

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The abbreviation MS is often used to refer to the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis in medicine, notes the NSCIA. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is commonly referenced using the abbreviation ALS. A doctor or other health-care provider may use the abbreviation CXR when ordering an X-ray of a patient's chest and the abbreviation CP to indicate that the patient experiences chest pain.

Knowledge of medical abbreviations can help patients better understand their medical records as well as things their health-care providers say either directly to them or to other health-care professionals around them, explains the NSCIA. However, there is no system of standardization for medical abbreviations, so it is possible that an abbreviation a medical professional uses has multiple meanings, warns the Social Security Advisory Service. In addition, some medical abbreviations can look very similar despite indicating different medical concepts. For example, CA may indicate "cancer," while Ca may be used as an abbreviation for "calcium," based on the NSCIA's list of medical abbreviations.

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