Abdomen

Part of the body that includes the stomach, intestines and other digestive organs.

Acupuncture

A complementary therapy where the use of fine needles is believed to control the
body's energy flow.

Adjuvant Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy treatment given after another treatment, usually surgery. ‘Neo-adjuvant’ chemotherapy is given before other treatments, usually surgery.

Alopecia

Hair loss.

Anti-emetic drugs

Drugs to stop you feeling sick and vomiting.

Aorta

The abdominal aorta is the largest artery in the abdomen. An artery is a blood vessel carrying blood away from the heart.

Aromatherapy

Gentle massage using oils from flowers, roots and leaves.

Art therapy

A way of expressing feelings by drawing and painting.

Ascites

Fluid that builds up in the abdomen, usually
caused by cancer but occasionally due to other diseases.

Benign

Not cancerous; used to refer to tumours which grow slowly in one place and which, once removed by surgery, tend not to come back.

Biopsy

Removal of a small piece of tissue for examination under a microscope in a laboratory.

Bone marrow

The spongy inner part of large bones where blood cells are made.

Borderline ovarian cancer

Sometimes known as tumours of low malignant potential (LMP), borderline tumours or borderline cysts. Borderline tumours are neither cancerous or benign. They are growths which have some abnormal and cancer-like characteristics, but do not usually spread beyond the ovary.

CA125

This is a protein found in the blood. The amount of CA125 will be higher for some people with specific types of cancer. It is a tumour marker for ovarian cancer.

Cancer

Name given to a group of diseases that can occur in any organ or system in the body. They all involve abnormal cells that grow uncontrollably, and which may spread to other organs.

Carcinogen

A substance that can cause cancer.

Carcinoma

A cancer that arises from the lining of an organ or system.

Chemotherapy

Treating cancer using cytotoxic drugs that kill cancer cells.

Counselling

Talking with a trained counsellor to make sense of feelings. This can offer new ideas for coping.

CT scan

A CT (computerised tomography) scan uses x-rays to produce images of the body.

Cytology

Examining cells under a microscope.

Diagnosis

Finding the type of disease a person is suffering from.

Dietician

A health professional who specialises in nutrition and gives people advice on how to eat well to help them recover from cancer.

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)

Genetic material in all human cells that is responsible for passing on important information on cell growth, division and function.

Grade of tumour

A measurement of how quickly a tumour will grow. This is found by analysing the tumour under a microscope.

Gynaecological Oncologist

Surgeon who specialises in gynaecological cancer surgery.

Gynaecology

The study of diseases of women.

Hickman line

A special tube inserted (under anaesthetic) through the chest into a large vein, so that chemotherapy drugs can be fed direct into the bloodstream. It can stay in place for months, meaning needles do not have to be used during treatment. It needs to be flushed through regularly and cleaned to prevent blockages and infections.

Histology

The study of the structure of tissues using a microscope and special dyes. This process aids diagnosis by analysing samples from biopsies.

Hormones

Chemical substances produced by glands in the body which are carried in the blood and help control how the body works.

Immune system

The body's main defense system, which fights infections or foreign substances.

Immunotherapy

A developing area of medicine looking at ways of using the body’s own immune system to destroy cancer cells.

Inoperable

Refers to a cancer that cannot be removed by surgery because this might cause too much damage to normal tissue.

Intramuscular

Given by injection into a muscle.

Intravenous

Given into a vein by injection or infusion (given slowly through a small tube).

Isotope scan

A scan which involves injecting a very weak radioactive substance, which collects in the organ being investigated so that it can be seen more easily with a special camera.

Laparoscopy

A minor operation under general anaesthetic which involves making a small cut in the abdomen so that a tiny telescope (laparoscope) can be inserted to examine the abdomen. Sometimes referred to as keyhole surgery.

Laparotomy

An operation to open the abdomen. A staging laparotomy is an abdominal operation to find if the cancer has spread.

Lymph nodes/glands

These are small pearl-like structures that are connected to the lymph system and act as filters to bacteria or cancer cells.

Lymph system 

A network of vessels that carries lymph (a clear fluid that comes from the blood and coats the tissues) around the body. Lymph contains water, protein, minerals and white blood cells. The lymph passes through a series of filters, lymph nodes, before it rejoins the bloodstream.

Lymphoedema

Swelling in the arms or legs caused by blockage or damage to the lymphatic system. It may occur as a result of treating the cancer or by the cancer blocking the lymphatic system.

Malignant

Malignant tumours are cancers that have the ability to invade and destroy surrounding tissues and can spread to other organs in the body.

Metastasis

Cancer that has spread from one part of the body to another. This usually happens through the lymphatic system or bloodstream. (Also called secondaries.)

MRI scan

A MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner uses a magnetic field and radio waves to build up detailed pictures of various parts of the body, from signals that are sent out from the water molecules in the body. Computer systems help, but no x-rays are used.

MDT 

Multidisciplinary Team – several members of different hospital departments who meet to discuss the treatment plan for individual patients.

Nadir point

The lowest point in reference to white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Usually occurs about 10 days after treatment, depending on the drugs given.

Nausea

Feeling sick.

Omentum

A sheet of fat in the abdomen that protects the intestines.

Omentectomy

Surgical removal of omentum.

Oncology

The study of cancer.

Oncologist

A doctor who specialises in treating cancer. A clinical oncologist or radiotherapist specialises in treating cancer with radiation and a medical oncologist specialises in treating cancer with medicine.

Palliative care

Care that treats the symptoms of the disease but is not aimed at curing the disease. Palliative care can help to treat symptoms even during curative treatment.

Pathology

The branch of medicine that deals with examining parts of the body affected by disease. Clinical pathology diagnoses diseases by analysing body fluids such as blood and urine as well as biopsied tissue.

Peritoneum

The lining of the abdominal cavity.

PET scan

Positron Emission Tomography scans use an injection of a very small amount of radioactive tracer,
usually glucose, to show the extent of the cancer, the effectiveness of treatment and distinguish between cancer and scar tissue.

Plural effusion

Fluid that collects between the lining of the lungs (pleura) and the chest wall.

Pleurix drain/Rocket drain

A soft tube inserted in the pleural cavity (the space between the pleural membranes which cover the lungs) to drain a build up of fluid, sometimes called a pleural effusion. These drains are also used to drain ascites, the build up of fluid in the abdomen.

PICC

Peripherally inserted central catheter – a long, thin, flexible tube which is inserted into one of the large veins of the arm until the tip sits just above the heart.

Porto-cath

Sometimes called an implantable or subcutaneous port. A soft plastic tube is put into a vein in the chest or arm and has an opening just under the skin. It makes it possible for medicines to be given into the vein. Blood samples may be taken via this port.

Primary cancer

The first cancerous tumour to develop in a particular part of the body.

Prognosis

An assessment of how the disease is expected to behave.

Progressive disease

Disease that has spread.

Prophylactic

Treatment given to prevent an illness or stop it from coming back.

Radiographer

A member of the health-care team who takes and analyses x-rays and scans.

Radiologist

A specialist doctor who uses x-rays, scans and other images to treat a disease.

Radiotherapist/
therapeutic radiographer

The member of the health-care team who gives patients radiotherapy.

Reflexology

A complementary therapy where the therapist applies gentle pressure to specific acupressure points on the feet or hands in order to link with the organs and systems in the body.

Refractory disease

Cancer that has not responded to treatment.

Remission

Period of time when there is no evidence of cancer.

Resistant disease

Cancer which does not respond well to chemotherapy.

Secondaries

When a tumour has spread from its place of origin. (This is also called metastasis.)

Staging

The process for deciding how far the cancer has spread, by using internationally recognised and agreed standards. This can be done using x-rays, scans, blood tests or surgery.

Subcutaneous injection

An injection given just under the skin, and not into the muscle.

Syringe driver

A way of giving medication under the skin slowly and continuously without having to give several injections.

TAHBSO

Total abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. This is an operation when the uterus (womb), including the cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries, is removed.

Terminal care

Caring for a person who is dying, to make sure they are as comfortable and pain-free as possible.

Therapy

Another word for treatment.

Thoracic

Referring to the chest area.

Trans-vaginal ultrasound scan

Using sound waves to build up a picture of organs inside the body, through a probe placed in the vagina.

Tumour

A lump or group of cells which may or may not be cancer. Also known as neoplasm.

Tumour markers

Substances produced by some cancers that can be measured in the blood. These can be used to help detect cancer, to see if treatment is being successful, or to see if disease comes back. The marker for ovarian cancer is CA125.

Ultrasound scan

An ultrasound scan uses sound waves to build up a picture of the organs using a probe placed on the abdomen. A trans-vaginal scan does the same but a probe is placed in the vagina.

Venflon

A tiny plastic tube which is placed in a vein so that drugs and fluids can go direct into the bloodstream.

Yoga

A combination of breathing techniques and exercise which helps relaxation and stress relief, while increasing blood circulation and mobility.