Abdomen: The part of the body that contains the uterus, tubes, ovaries, stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder, pancreas and other organs.

Alopecia: Loss of hair.

Anemia: Low red blood cell count. This may cause increased fatigue.

Ascites: Abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen.

Atypia: Refers to cells with abnormal features.

Benign: Non-cancerous conditions.

Biopsy: The removal of a sample of tissue which is then viewed under a microscope. This is used to determining benign and malignant conditions.

Bowel: Another name for the small and large intestine.

Cancer: A disease in which abnormal cells divide without control. These cells can invade and damage nearby tissues or organs and can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.

CA 125: A blood test that may be elevated in some cancers especially ovarian cancer. It may be falsely elevated with benign conditions such as endometriosis or fibroids. It is not useful as a screening tool.

CIN: Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia
CIN 1: Mild dysplasia
CIN 2: Moderate dysplasia
CIN 3: Severe dysplasia / carcinoma in situ

CIS: Carcinoma in situ

Colostomy: A way to re-route the colon when a section is removed during surgery. Stool drains to the outside of the body in a bag.

Colposcope: An instrument used as a magnification device when the pap smear is abnormal. The cervix is visualized during a pelvic exam and abnormal areas are biopsied.

Conization: A procedure that removes a cone-like section of the cervix.

CT (CAT scan/Computerized Axial Tomography): Useful radiology study to determine if the cancer has spread.

Cyst: A sac filled with fluid.

Cytology: During surgery, the abdomen is flushed with a saline solution to pick up any floating cancer cells. This is also called peritoneal washings.

Diaphragm: The thin muscle below the lungs and heart that separates the chest from the abdomen.

Dysplasia: Indicates a distinct abnormality of cellular development and is with pre-cancerous disease of the cervix. It is reported as mild, moderate or severe, depending on the degree of deviation from normal cervical cells.

Frozen section: A quick pathologic test performed during surgery to determine if the specimen in benign or malignant.

Grade: Indicates the degree of abnormality in the cancer cell.

HPV (Human Papillomavirus): Virus that causes dysplasia of the cervix.

Hysterectomy: An operation to remove the uterus, usually the cervix is removed at the same time. This may be done through an incision in the abdomen or through the vagina.

Intraperitoneal: Within the peritoneal or abdominal cavity.

Laparotomy: An exploratory surgery that allows the doctor to inspect the organs in the abdomen. Exploratory laparotomy is usually done making a full incision into the abdomen from just above the pubic area to the umbilicus (navel) and may extend higher if needed.

Laparoscopy: An operation using small incisions and a camera to operate.

Lymph nodes: Tissue located along the channels of the lymphatic system. The lymph nodes can trap bacteria or cancer cells traveling through the body. Clusters of lymph nodes are found in the underarms, groin, neck, chest and abdomen.

Malignant: Cancerous cells that can invade and destroy nearby tissue and can spread to other parts of the body.

Menopause: The time of a woman’s life when menstrual periods permanently stop. Also called “the change of life”. Hormone levels fall slowly during this time. This will occur if the ovaries are removed during surgery.

Menarche: When a girl first begins menstrual cycles.

Metastasize: The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another.

NED: No evidence of disease

Neuropathy: Nerve pain often experienced as numbness or tingling in the feet or toes.

Omentum: The fatty apron of tissue attached to the colon and stomach.

Papanicolaou Test: Commonly referred to as Pap Smear. This is a common test done in the office to evaluate the cells of the cervix. The specimen is examined under a microscope to detect changes that may be cancerous, precancerous, inflammation, or infection.

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

Peritoneum: The lining of the abdominal cavity. A common site for ovarian cancer to spread to.

Pfannenstiel incision: Horizontal skin incision commonly known as a “bikini incision”.

Portacath: Implantable device placed under the skin of the upper chest into a large vein to provide a pathway for chemotherapy and fluids or to draw lab tests.

Prognosis: The probable outcome or chance of recovery from a particular disease.

Remission: A disappearance of the signs and symptoms of cancer; also called NED (No Evidence of Disease). Remission can be temporary or permanent.

Salpingo-oophorectomy: Surgical removal of the fallopian tube and ovary.

U/S (Ultrasound): A non-invasive tool used to evaluate the size, shape, configuration and consistency of the ovaries or other organs. It is useful to help determine if a pelvic mass is cystic (fluid-filled), solid or both.

Stage: Refers to how far the disease has advanced. Accurate staging is extremely important for planning treatment and prognosis.

Tumor: A mass which can be either benign or cancerous.