Glossary of Terms
ascites (ah-SYE-teez): Abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen.
BRCA1: A gene on chromosome 17 that normally helps to suppress cell growth. A person who inherits an altered version of the BRCA1 gene has a higher risk of getting breast, ovarian, or prostate cancer.
BRCA2: A gene on chromosome 13 that normally helps to suppress cell growth. A person who inherits an altered version of the BRCA2 gene has a higher risk of getting breast, ovarian, or prostate cancer.
cancer: A term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control. Cancer cells can invade nearby tissues and can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.
differentiation: In cancer, refers to how mature (developed) the cancer cells are in a tumor. Differentiated tumor cells resemble normal cells and grow at a slower rate than undifferentiated tumor cells, which lack the structure and function of normal cells and grow uncontrollably.
distant cancer: Refers to cancer that has spread from the original (primary) tumor to distant organs or distant lymph nodes.
histology: The study of cells and tissue on the microscopic level.
malignant (ma-LIG-nant ): Cancerous; a growth with a tendency to invade and destroy nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.
malignant ascites: A condition in which fluid containing cancer cells collects in the abdomen.
metastasis (meh-TAS-ta-sis ): The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another. Tumors formed from cells that have spread are called secondary tumors and contain cells that are like those in the original (primary) tumor. The plural is metastases.
metastasize (meh-TAS-ta-size ): 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.
omentum(oh-MEN-tum ): A fold of the peritoneum (the thin tissue that lines the abdomen) that surrounds the stomach and other organs in the abdomen.
ovaries (O-va-reez ): The pair of female reproductive glands in which the ova, or eggs, are formed and female hormones are produced. The ovaries are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus. Each ovary is about the size and shape of an almond.
palliative therapy: Treatment given to relieve symptoms caused by advanced cancer. Palliative therapy does not alter the course of a disease, but improves the quality of life.
peritoneal cavity (pare-i-toe-NEE-al): The space within the abdomen that contains the intestines, the stomach, and the liver. It is bound by thin membranes. peritoneal washing This is a procedure where saline (salt solution) is introduced into the peritoneal cavity, and then removed by suction. After this, the fluid is examined for malignant (cancer) cells (called peritoneal washing cytology).
peritoneum (PAIR-ih-toe-NEE-um ): The tissue that lines the abdominal wall and covers most of the organs in the abdomen.
pleura (PLOOR-a ): 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.
refractory cancer: Cancer that has not responded to treatment.
regional cancer: Refers to cancer that has grown beyond the original (primary) tumor to nearby lymph nodes and/or organs and tissues.
These definitions come from the online dictionary of the National Cancer Institute, available at www.cancer.gov/dictionary.