Ovarian Cancer Glossary
Ascites – Accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity, usually for unknown or abnormal reasons
Biomarker – Biological molecule found in blood, bodily fluids or tissues that can indicate normal or abnormal processes in your body, as a result of a condition or disease.
Biopsy – A diagnostic procedure involving removal and examination of bodily tissue, which may be performed in various ways, including with needles, an endoscope, etc.
BRCA-negative/BRCA wild type – This means a change (also called a mutation) is not present in the BRCA gene. A person without a mutation in the BRCA gene can still develop cancer. This may also be called wild type
BRCA-positive – This means a change (also called a mutation) has been noted in the BRCA gene. A positive result does not mean that cancer will occur, but this puts you at a higher risk for certain cancers
BRCA1/BRCA2 gene mutation – Gene mutations linked to breast cancer that also increase the risk of ovarian cancer
Cancer antigen 125 protein (CA-125) – A glycoprotein found in healthy adult cells that spurs the immune system into action when precancerous and cancerous cells are detected
Chemotherapy – A cancer treatment option that introduces chemicals to destroy cancerous cells
Colonoscopy – A diagnostic procedure involving a long, flexible tubular camera used to view the colon
Complete Response to chemotherapy – There is no evidence of disease
Computed axial tomography (CAT) scan – A diagnostic imaging procedure and may involve radioactive contrast
Cowden syndrome – A condition in which noncancerous growths appear on the skin and around the nose and mouth
Debulking surgery – Surgical procedure for removal of a lesion or tumor; optimal debulking is achieved when all remaining tumors are smaller than 1 centimeter
Epithelial cells – Any of a variety of cells that form layers that line hollow organs and glands and make up the outer surface of the body
Exclusion Criteria – The reasons a person may be excluded from participating in a clinical study
FIGO stage – International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics classification system for ovarian cancer tumors
Gene – A piece of DNA passed from parent to child. Genes contain the information for making a specific protein.
Genetic Testing – The process of looking at cells or tissue to look for changes in genes, chromosomes, or proteins that may be a sign of a disease or condition, such as cancer. These changes may also be a sign that a person has an increased risk of developing a specific disease or condition.
Genetics – Having to do with genes. Most genes are sequences of DNA that contain information. The information in genes is passed down from patent to child, and sometimes, certain changes in genes can affect a person’s risk of disease, such as cancer.
Genomic Testing – The process of looking at the complete set of DNA (including all of its genes) in a person or other organism. Studying your complete set of DNA may help researchers understand how genes interact with each other and with the environment and how certain diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, form.
Germ cells – Ova or spermatozoa cells or their developmental precursors
Gynecologic oncologist – A doctor of obstetrics and gynecology who specializes in women’s reproductive cancers
Homologous Recombination – A process by which DNA repairs itself.
Homologous Recombination Deficiency – Results when DNA is unable to repair itself. Changes in the homologous recombination repair pathway that result in the inability to repair DNA may lead to diseases such as cancer.
Homologous Recombination Profiency – Results when DNA is able to effecitviely repair itself.
Incidence – The number of new diagnoses of a condition over a given period of time
Inclusion criteria – Requirements that determine eligibility for participation in a clinical study
Informed consent – A way of notifying enrolled and potential participants of the possible risks and benefits of a particular clinical study
Laparoscopy – A diagnostic or surgical procedure involving a long, flexible tubular camera used to view the organs of the abdomen
Lynch syndrome – Also called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC); an inherited condition that increases the risk of certain types of cancer
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses magnets to show tissues with high fat and water content not seen with x-rays
Maintenance treatment – A treatment given to a patient after cancer has responded to chemotherapy, as first-line maintenance or after a recurrence, which may extend the time until the cancer comes back
Metastasis – The transfer or spreading of cancerous cells from point of origin into other organs
Multidisciplinary team – A healthcare team consisting of numerous doctors and other medical professionals who coordinate and collaborate to treat a person’s health needs
Neoadjuvant – The first step in radiation or chemotherapy treatment used to shrink a tumor before surgery to remove it
Oncologist – A doctor who specializes in the study of cancerous growths and malignancy
Ovarian cancer – Any of more than 30 varieties of abnormal cell/tumor growth on the ovary or associated tissues
Partial Response – The cancer has shrunk by a percentage but evidence of disease remains.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – An infection that affects the female reproductive system (i.e., vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries)
Peritoneum – The lining of the abdomen that protects the abdominal organs
Peutz-Jeghers syndrome – A condition characterized by noncancerous growths in the stomach and intestines
Platinum – A metal that is an important component of some anticancer drugs, such as cisplatin and carboplatin.
Positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) scan – A diagnostic imaging procedure revealing the structure and function of cells
Prevalence – The number of people with a condition in a given population at a particular time
Progression-free survival (PFS) – The length of time during and after treatment that you live with cancer but it does not get worse
Protocol – Description that includes the objectives, design, and methods of a clinical study. Scientific background and statistical data may also be included
Recurrence – Term to describe cancer that has come back, usually after a period of time during which the cancer could not be detected. The cancer may come back to the same place as the original tumor or to another place in the body.
Remission/response – If some but not all of the cancer has disappeared, it is a partial response or remission. If there are no remaining clinical signs (which can be monitored by your doctor through imaging tests such as CT scan, MRI, or PET scan) of cancer, it is considered to be a complete remission, although cancer still may be in the body
Signs – Objective evidence observable by healthcare professionals (e.g., blood pressure, temperature) that indicates the presence of a condition
Stromal cells – Structural or connective tissue cells of any organ
Symptoms – Subjective evidence reported by patient (e.g., pain, constipation) that indicates the presence of a condition
Systemic treatments – Treatments that affect cancer cells throughout the body through the bloodstream. They can be injected directly into the bloodstream or taken orally.
Ultrasonography (ultrasound) – A diagnostic imaging procedure using sound waves that can be performed in numerous ways (e.g., transvaginal [through the vagina], pelvic, or abdominal)