Ovarian Cancer Glossary

Ovarian Cancer Glossary Mobile

Ovarian Cancer Glossary


AscitesAccumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity, usually for unknown or abnormal reasons


BiomarkerBiological 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.

BiopsyA 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 typeThis 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-positiveThis 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 mutationGene 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

ChemotherapyA cancer treatment option that introduces chemicals to destroy cancerous cells

ColonoscopyA diagnostic procedure involving a long, flexible tubular camera used to view the colon

Complete Response to chemotherapyThere is no evidence of disease

Computed axial tomography (CAT) scanA diagnostic imaging procedure and may involve radioactive contrast

Cowden syndromeA condition in which noncancerous growths appear on the skin and around the nose and mouth


Debulking surgerySurgical procedure for removal of a lesion or tumor; optimal debulking is achieved when all remaining tumors are smaller than 1 centimeter


Epithelial cellsAny of a variety of cells that form layers that line hollow organs and glands and make up the outer surface of the body

Exclusion CriteriaThe reasons a person may be excluded from participating in a clinical study


FIGO stageInternational Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics classification system for ovarian cancer tumors


GeneA piece of DNA passed from parent to child. Genes contain the information for making a specific protein.

Genetic TestingThe 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.

GeneticsHaving 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 TestingThe 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 cellsOva or spermatozoa cells or their developmental precursors

Gynecologic oncologistA doctor of obstetrics and gynecology who specializes in women’s reproductive cancers


Homologous RecombinationA process by which DNA repairs itself.

Homologous Recombination DeficiencyResults 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 ProfiencyResults when DNA is able to effecitviely repair itself.


IncidenceThe number of new diagnoses of a condition over a given period of time

Inclusion criteriaRequirements that determine eligibility for participation in a clinical study

Informed consentA way of notifying enrolled and potential participants of the possible risks and benefits of a particular clinical study


LaparoscopyA diagnostic or surgical procedure involving a long, flexible tubular camera used to view the organs of the abdomen

Lynch syndromeAlso 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 treatmentA 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

MetastasisThe transfer or spreading of cancerous cells from point of origin into other organs

Multidisciplinary teamA healthcare team consisting of numerous doctors and other medical professionals who coordinate and collaborate to treat a person’s health needs


NeoadjuvantThe first step in radiation or chemotherapy treatment used to shrink a tumor before surgery to remove it


OncologistA doctor who specializes in the study of cancerous growths and malignancy

Ovarian cancerAny of more than 30 varieties of abnormal cell/tumor growth on the ovary or associated tissues


Partial ResponseThe 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)

PeritoneumThe lining of the abdomen that protects the abdominal organs

Peutz-Jeghers syndromeA condition characterized by noncancerous growths in the stomach and intestines

PlatinumA metal that is an important component of some anticancer drugs, such as cisplatin and carboplatin.

Positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) scanA diagnostic imaging procedure revealing the structure and function of cells

PrevalenceThe 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

ProtocolDescription that includes the objectives, design, and methods of a clinical study. Scientific background and statistical data may also be included


RecurrenceTerm 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/responseIf 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


SignsObjective evidence observable by healthcare professionals (e.g., blood pressure, temperature) that indicates the presence of a condition

Stromal cellsStructural or connective tissue cells of any organ

SymptomsSubjective evidence reported by patient (e.g., pain, constipation) that indicates the presence of a condition

Systemic treatmentsTreatments 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)