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Glossary of Terms

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laboratory test

A medical procedure that involves testing a sample of blood, urine or other substance from the body. Tests can help determine a diagnosis, plan treatment, check to see if treatment is working or monitor the disease over time.

lapatinib

Brand name, Tykerb. A medicine used with another anticancer agent to treat breast cancer that is HER2 positive and has advanced or metastasized (spread to other parts of the body) after treatment with other medicines. Lapatinib is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Also called GW572016, and lapatinib ditosylate.

laser

A device that forms light into intense, narrow beams that may be used to cut or destroy tissue, such as cancer tissue. It may also be used to reduce lymphedema (swelling caused by a buildup of lymph fluid in tissue) after breast cancer surgery. Lasers are used in microsurgery, photodynamic therapy and many other procedures to diagnose and treat disease.

laser surgery

A surgical procedure that uses the cutting power of a laser beam to make bloodless cuts in tissue or to remove a surface lesion such as a tumor.

laser therapy

Treatment that uses intense, narrow beams of light to cut and destroy tissue, such as cancer tissue. Laser therapy may also be used to reduce lymphedema (swelling caused by a buildup of lymph fluid in tissue) after breast cancer surgery.

lassitude

A feeling of tiredness, weakness and lack of interest in daily activities.

late effects

Side effects of cancer treatment that appear months or years after treatment has ended. Late effects include physical and mental problems and second cancers.

late-stage cancer

A term used to describe cancer that is far along in its growth and has spread to the lymph nodes or other places in the body.

latent

Describes a condition that is present but not active or causing symptoms.

laxative

A substance that promotes bowel movements.

LEEP

Loop electrosurgical excision procedure. Also called loop excision. LEEP is a technique that uses electric current passed through a thin wire loop to remove abnormal tissue.

legal aid organization

A group or agency that gives legal help to people with low incomes. Health legal aid workers help people with issues related to getting good healthcare and getting insurance to cover certain individuals and conditions.

lesion

An area of abnormal tissue. A lesion may be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

lethargy

A condition marked by drowsiness and an unusual lack of energy and mental alertness. It can be caused by many things, including illness, injury or medicines.

letrozole

Brand name, Femara. A medicine used to treat advanced breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Letrozole causes a decrease in the amount of estrogen made by the body. It is a type of aromatase inhibitor.

leukopenia

A condition in which there is a lower-than-normal number of leukocytes (white blood cells) in the blood.

levels of evidence

A ranking system used to describe the strength of the results measured in a clinical trial or research study. The design of the study (such as a case report for an individual participant or a randomized double-blinded controlled clinical trial) and the endpoints measured (such as survival or quality of life) affect the strength of the evidence.

Lexapro

Also called escitalopram. A medicine used to treat depression and certain anxiety disorders. It belongs to the family of medicines called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

libido

Sexual desire or the mental energy or emotion related to sex.

lidocaine

A type of local anesthetic and antiarrhythmic. A substance used to relieve pain by blocking signals at the nerve endings in skin. It can also be given intravenously to stop heart arrhythmias.

ligation

The process of tying off blood vessels so that blood cannot flow to a part of the body or to a tumor.

linac

A machine that uses electricity to form a stream of fast-moving subatomic particles. This creates high-energy radiation that may be used to treat cancer. Also called linear accelerator, mega-voltage linear accelerator and MeV linear accelerator.

linear accelerator

A machine that uses electricity to form a stream of fast-moving subatomic particles. This creates high-energy radiation that may be used to treat cancer. Also called linac, mega-voltage linear accelerator and MeV linear accelerator.

lipoma

A benign (not cancer) tumor made of fat cells.

lisofylline

A medicine that may protect healthy cells from chemotherapy and radiation without inhibiting the effects of these therapies on tumor cells.

liver metastasis

Cancer that has spread from the original (primary) tumor to the liver.

liver scan

An image of the liver created on a computer screen or on film. A radioactive substance is injected into a blood vessel and travels through the bloodstream. It collects in the liver, especially in abnormal areas, and can be detected by the scanner.

living will

A type of legal advance directive in which a person describes specific treatment guidelines that are to be followed by healthcare providers if he or she becomes terminally ill and cannot communicate. A living will usually has instructions about whether to use aggressive medical treatment to keep a person alive, such as CPR, artificial nutrition, use of a respirator.

lobaplatin

A substance that contains the metal platinum and may kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA and stopping them from dividing. It is a type of alkylating agent.

lobe

A portion of an organ, such as the breast, liver, lung, thyroid or brain.

lobectomy

Surgical removal of a lobe (section) of an organ, such as the breast, lungs, liver, brain or thyroid gland.

lobular carcinoma

Cancer that begins in the lobules (the glands that make milk) of the breast. Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is a condition in which abnormal cells are found only in the lobules. When cancer has spread from the lobules to surrounding tissues, it is invasive lobular carcinoma. LCIS does not become invasive lobular carcinoma very often, but having LCIS in one breast increases the risk of developing invasive cancer in either breast.

lobular carcinoma in situ

Also called LCIS. A condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lobules of the breast. Lobular carcinoma in situ seldom becomes invasive cancer; however, having it in one breast increases the risk of developing breast cancer in either breast.

lobule

A small lobe or a subdivision of a lobe.

local anesthesia

A temporary loss of feeling in one small area of the body caused by special medicine or other substances called anesthetics. The individual stays awake but has no feeling in the area of the body treated with the anesthetic.

local cancer

An invasive malignant cancer confined entirely to the organ where the cancer began.

local therapy

Treatment that affects cells in the tumor and the area close to it.

localization

The process of determining or marking the location or site of a lesion or disease. May also refer to the process of keeping a lesion or disease in a specific location or site.

localized

Restricted to the site of origin, without evidence of spread.

locally advanced cancer

Cancer that has spread from where it started to nearby tissue or lymph nodes.

locally recurrent cancer

Cancer that has recurred (come back) at or near the same place as the original (primary) tumor, usually after a period of time during which the cancer could not be detected.

lomustine

An anticancer medicine that belongs to the family of medicine called alkylating agents. It is used to treat breast cancer as well as other illnesses.

loop electrosurgical excision procedure

Also called LEEP and loop excision. A technique that uses electric current passed through a thin wire loop to remove abnormal tissue.

loop excision

Also called LEEP and loop electrosurgical excision procedure. A technique that uses electric current passed through a thin wire loop to remove abnormal tissue.

lorazepam

A medicine used to treat anxiety and certain seizure disorders (such as epilepsy), and to prevent nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. It belongs to the families of medicines called antiemetics and benzodiazepines.

low grade

A term used to describe cells that look nearly normal under a microscope. These cells are less likely to grow and spread more quickly than cells in high-grade cancer or in growths that may become cancer.

lubricant

An oily or slippery substance.

lumbar puncture

Also called spinal tap. A procedure in which a thin needle called a spinal needle is put into the lower part of the spinal column to collect cerebrospinal fluid or to give medicines.

lumpectomy

Surgery to remove abnormal tissue or cancer from the breast and a small amount of normal tissue around it. It is a type of breast-sparing surgery.

lung metastasis

Cancer that has spread from the original (primary) tumor to the lung.

luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonist

Also called LH-RH agonist. A medicine that inhibits the secretion of sex hormones. In men, luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonist causes testosterone levels to fall. In women, luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonist causes the levels of estrogen and other sex hormones to fall.

lymph

Also called lymphatic fluid. The clear fluid that travels through the lymphatic system and carries cells that help fight infections and other diseases.

lymph gland

Also called lymph node. A rounded mass of lymphatic tissue that is surrounded by a capsule of connective tissue. Lymph glands filter lymph (lymphatic fluid), and they store lymphocytes (white blood cells). They are located along lymphatic vessels.

lymph node

Also called lymph gland. A rounded mass of lymphatic tissue that is surrounded by a capsule of connective tissue. Lymph nodes filter lymph (lymphatic fluid), and they store lymphocytes (white blood cells). They are located along lymphatic vessels.

lymph node dissection

Also called lymphadenectomy. A surgical procedure in which the lymph nodes are removed and a sample of tissue is checked under a microscope for signs of breast cancer. For a regional lymph node dissection, some of the lymph nodes in the tumor area are removed; for a radical lymph node dissection, most or all of the lymph nodes in the tumor area are removed.

lymph node drainage

The flow of lymph from an area of tissue into a particular lymph node.

lymph node mapping

The use of dyes and radioactive substances to identify lymph nodes that may contain tumor cells. Also called lymphatic mapping.

lymph vessel

A thin tube that carries lymph (lymphatic fluid) and white blood cells through the lymphatic system. Also called lymphatic vessel.

lymphadenectomy

Also called lymph node dissection. A surgical procedure in which the lymph nodes are removed and a sample of tissue is checked under a microscope for signs of breast cancer. For a regional lymphadenectomy, some of the lymph nodes in the tumor area are removed; for a radical lymphadenectomy, most or all of the lymph nodes in the tumor area are removed.

lymphadenopathy

Disease or swelling of the lymph nodes.

lymphangiogram

An X-ray of the lymphatic system. A dye is injected into a lymphatic vessel and travels throughout the lymphatic system. The dye outlines the lymphatic vessels and organs on the X-ray.

lymphangiography

An X-ray study of the lymphatic system. A dye is injected into a lymphatic vessel and travels throughout the lymphatic system. The dye outlines the lymphatic vessels and organs on the X-ray.

lymphatic basin

A group of lymph nodes that receives and filters lymph that flows from a certain area of the body. Special dyes may be used to stain and identify the lymphatic basin in the tissues around a tumor, so that lymph nodes that may contain cancer can be removed and checked by a pathologist.

lymphatic fluid

Also called lymph. The clear fluid that travels through the lymphatic system and carries cells that help fight infections and other diseases.

lymphatic mapping

The use of dyes and radioactive substances to identify lymph nodes that may contain tumor cells. Also called lymph node mapping.

lymphatic system

The tissues and organs that produce, store, and carry white blood cells that fight infections and other diseases. This system includes the bone marrow, spleen, thymus, lymph nodes, and lymphatic vessels (a network of thin tubes that carry lymph and white blood cells). Lymphatic vessels branch, like blood vessels, into all the tissues of the body.

lymphatic vessel

A thin tube that carries lymph (lymphatic fluid) and white blood cells through the lymphatic system. Also called lymph vessel.

lymphedema

A condition in which extra lymph fluid builds up, causing swelling in tissues under the skin of the hand, arm, breast or torso, on the same side that breast cancer occurs. Lymphedema may occur in an arm or leg if lymph vessels are blocked, damaged, or removed by surgery. It can occur at any time after breast cancer treatment. Physical therapy treatment after breast cancer surgery may help prevent or manage lymphedema.

lymphography

An X-ray study of lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels made visible by the injection of a special dye.

lymphoscintigraphy

A method used to check the lymph system for disease. A radioactive substance that flows through the lymph ducts and can be taken up by lymph nodes is injected into the body. A scanner or probe is used to follow the movement of this substance on a computer screen. Lymphoscintigraphy is used to find the sentinel lymph node (the first node to receive lymph from a tumor), which may be removed and checked for tumor cells. Lymphoscintigraphy is also used to diagnose certain diseases or conditions, such as lymphoma or lymphedema.

Lyrica

Also called pregabalin. A medicine used to treat nerve pain caused by diabetes or herpes zoster (shingles) infection and certain types of seizures. It is being studied in the prevention and treatment of nerve pain in the hands and feet of cancer individuals given chemotherapy. Lyrica is a type of anticonvulsant.

lytic lesion

Destruction of an area of bone due to a disease process, such as cancer.

Denver, CO  ·  September 13, 2014

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