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Laparoscope: A thin, tube-like instrument used to look at the tissues and organs inside the abdomen. A laparoscope has a light and a lens for viewing and may have a tool to remove tissue.

Laparoscopy: A procedure that uses a laparoscope, inserted through the abdominal wall, to examine the inside of the abdomen. When a surgical incision is made in the wall of the abdomen it is called a laparotomy.

Low Malignant Potential (LMP) Tumor: A condition in which cells that may become cancer, form in the thin tissue that covers the ovary. In this condition, tumor cells rarely spread outside the ovary. Also called Ovarian Borderline Malignant Tumor.

Lymph: The clear fluid that travels through the lymphatic system and carries cells that help fight infections and other diseases.

Lymph Nodes: A rounded mass of lymphatic tissue that is surrounded by a capsule of connective tissue. Lymph nodes filter lymph, store white blood cells and help the immune system fight disease.

Lymphatic System: The tissues and organs that produce, store and carry white blood cells that fight infections and other diseases. The system includes the bone marrow, spleen, lymph nodes, and lymphatic vessels (a network of thin tubes that carry lymph and white blood cells). Like blood vessels, lymphatic vessels branch into all the tissues of the body. 

Lynch Syndrome: An inherited disorder also known as Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer. In addition to being at higher than average risk for colon cancer, a woman has a higher-than-normal chance of developing ovarian and uterine cancer, often before the age of 50, if she has Lynch Syndrome.

Malignant: Cancerous. Malignant tumors that can invade and destroy nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor is a growth that is not cancerous.

Malignant ascites: A condition in which fluid containing cancer cells collects in the abdomen.

Medical history: A record of information about an individual’s health. It may include information about illnesses, surgeries, allergies, immunizations, medicines taken, results of physical exams and tests. A family medical history includes information about a person’s close family members (parents, brothers and sisters, children, grandparents).

Menopause: The time of life when a woman’s ovaries stop producing hormones and menstrual periods stop. A woman is in menopause when she hasn’t had a period for 12 months in a row.

Metastasis: The spread of cancer cells from one part of the body to another, often by way of the lymph system or bloodstream. A tumor formed by cells that have spread is called a secondary tumor and contain cells that are like those in the original tumor. It is also called a “Metastatic Tumor” or a “Metastasis.”

Metastasize: To spread from one part of the body to another. When cancer cells metastasize and form secondary tumors, the cells in the metastatic tumor are like those in the original (primary) tumor.

MRI: A procedure in which radio waves and a powerful magnet linked to a computer are used to create detailed pictures of areas inside the body. These pictures can show the difference between normal and diseased tissue. Also called Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

Mutation: Any change in the DNA of a cell.

National Cancer Institute (NCI): The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, is the Federal Government’s principal agency for cancer research.

National Institutes of Health (NIH): The NIH is an important U.S. health agency. It is devoted to medical research. It conducts research in its own laboratories, supports the research of non-Federal scientists in universities, medical schools, hospitals, and research institutions across the country and overseas. The NIH consists of more than 20 separate Institutes and Centers.

Neoadjuvant therapy: Therapy, usually chemotherapy, given to a patient prior to surgery.

Neulasta: Trade name for the drug Pegfilgrastim.

Neutropenia: An abnormally low number of a particular type of white blood cell, called a neutrophil. This may result in an increased risk of infection.

Omentum: A fold of the peritoneum (the thin tissue that lines the abdomen) that surrounds the stomach and other organs in the abdomen.

Oncologist: A doctor who specializes in treating and caring for people who have cancer.

Oopherectomy: Surgery to remove one or both ovaries.

Ovarian Borderline Malignant Tumor: A condition in which cells that may become cancer form in the thin layer of tissue that covers an ovary. In this condition, tumor cells rarely spread outside of the ovary. Also called Ovarian Low Malignant Potential Tumor.

Ovarian cancer: Cancer that forms in the tissues of the ovary (one of a pair of female reproductive glands in which the ova, or eggs, are formed). There are three types of ovarian cancer–Epithelial, Germ Cell, and Stromal Cell. Epithelial Ovarian is the most common. It accounts for more than 85 percent of ovarian cancers. It begins in the cells on the surface of the ovary. Germ Cell Cancers start in cells that form eggs in the ovary. Stromal Cell Tumors start in the supporting connective tissue that holds the ovary together. Ovarian Germ Cell Tumor: Ovarian germ cell tumors start in the cells that produce individual eggs in the ovary. This type of tumor is rare, usually occurring in teenage girls or women younger than age 20. Many germ cell tumors are noncancerous.

Ovary: One of a pair of female reproductive glands in which the ova, or eggs, are formed. The ovaries are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus. Each ovary is about the size of an almond. The ovaries make female hormones and also store eggs. During a woman’s reproductive years, an ovary releases an egg every month.

Paclitaxel: Generic name for the drug Taxol. A drug used to treat ovarian and breast cancer. It blocks cell growth by stopping cell division and may kill cancer cells.

Palliative Treatment or Care: Treatment that relieves symptoms, such as pain, and reduces the suffering caused by cancer. Its main purpose is to keep the best quality of life for as long as possible without seeking to cure the disease.

Pap Test: A procedure in which cells are scraped from the cervix for examination under a microscope to detect cervical cancer and changes that may lead to the disease. A Pap test, also called a Pap Smear and Papanicolaou test, can also show noncancerous conditions such as infection or inflammation. A pap test does not detect ovarian cancer.

Partial Response: A decrease in the size of a tumor, or in the extent of cancer in the body, in response to treatment. Also called partial remission.

Paraplatin: Trade name for the drug Carboplatin.

Pathologist: A doctor who identifies diseases by studying cells and tissues under a microscope.

Pegfilgrastim: Generic name for the drug Neulasta. A drug used to increase numbers of white blood cells in patients who are receiving chemotherapy.

Pelvis: The lower part of the abdomen located between the hip bones.

Peripheral Neuropathy: A nerve problem that causes pain, numbness, tingling, swelling or muscle weakness in different parts of the body. It usually begins in the hands or feet. Peripheral neuropathy can be a side effect of chemotherapy.

Peritoneal Cavity: The space within the abdomen that contains the stomach, the intestines, and the liver. It is bound by thin membranes.

Peritoneal Washing: A procedure in which a salt-water solution is used to wash the peritoneal cavity and then is removed to check for cancer cells. Peritoneal washings are commonly done during surgery for cancer of the ovary and the uterus, to see if the cancer has spread to the peritoneal cavity.

Peritoneum: The tissue that lines the abdominal wall and covers most of the organs in the abdomen.

Placebo: Sometimes called a “sugar pill,” a placebo is an inactive substance that looks the same as, and is administered the same way as, a drug being tested in a clinical trial. The effects of the active drug or treatment are compared to the effects of the placebo.

Platinol: Trade name for the drug Cisplatin.

Platinum-Resistant Ovarian Cancer: Ovarian cancer that does not respond to platinum-based chemotherapies.

Pleura: A thin layer of tissue covering the lungs and the wall of the chest cavity to protect and cushion the lungs. A small amount of fluid that acts as a lubricant allows the lungs to move smoothly in the chest cavity during breathing.

Pleural cavity: A space enclosed by the pleura (thin tissue covering the lungs and lining the interior wall of the chest cavity). It is bound by thin membranes.

Pleural effusion: An abnormal collection of fluid between the thin layers of tissue (pleura) lining the lung and the wall of the chest cavity.

Pre-Clinical Trial: Research using animals to find out if a new drug, procedure or treatment is likely to be useful. Preclinical studies take place before any testing in humans is done.

Primary Therapy: Initial treatment used to reduce ovarian cancer. Primary treatment is followed by other treatments, such as chemotherapy, to get rid of cancer that remains.

Prognosis: The likely outcome or course of a disease; the chance of recovery or recurrence.

Progression-Free Survival: The length of time during and after the treatment of cancer that a patient lives with the disease but it does not get worse.

Protocol: A detailed plan of a scientific experiment, treatment, or procedure. In clinical trials, it says what the study will do, how it will be done, and why it is being done. It also details how many people will be in the study, who is eligible to take part in it, what tests will be done and how often, and what information will be collected.

Source: Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance