Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pancreatic Cancer: Glossary of Terms (L-N)

- L –

Lactase: The enzyme necessary to break down the sugar lactose.

Lactose: The natural sugar found in milk and milk products.

Lactose Intolerance: A condition in which the body's digestive system is unable to completely metabolize lactose. It is often caused by insufficient amounts of lactase.

Laparoscopy: A technique that surgeons can use to visualize and even biopsy (take tissue samples of) organs inside of the abdomen without making large incisions. Very small incisions are made in the belly and small tubes (called trocars) are then inserted. Gas is pumped in through one of the tubes to create enough space to work in. The surgeon inserts a small camera through one of the tubes and examines the lining and contents of the abdominal cavity by looking at the projected image on the television screen. With specially designed laparascopic instruments, biopsies and fluid samples can be taken for examination. Some surgeons feel that this technique can help "stage" a patient less invasively than with open surgery.

Laparotomy: A laparotomy is a surgical procedure involving an incision through the abdominal wall to gain access into the abdominal cavity. It is also known as coeliotomy. In diagnostic laparotomy (most often referred to as an exploratory laparotomy and abbreviated Ex-Lap), the nature of the disease is unknown, and laparotomy is deemed the best way to identify the cause. In therapeutic laparotomy, a cause has been identified (e.g. peptic ulcer, colon cancer) and laparotomy is required for its therapy.

Li-Fraumeni syndrome: Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) is a hereditary cancer predisposition syndrome. This means that a person who has LFS will have an increased risk of developing cancer. The most common types of cancer found in families with LFS include osteosarcoma (bone cancer), soft tissue sarcoma, leukemia, breast cancer, brain cancer, and adrenal cortical tumors. An increased risk for melanoma, Wilms' tumor (a type of kidney cancer), and cancers of the stomach, colon, pancreas, esophagus, lung, and gonadal germ cells have also been reported. Almost every part of the body may be at risk for cancer in someone who has LFS.

Lipase: Any of a group of fat-digesting enzymes produced in the stomach, pancreas, and liver and also occurring widely in the seeds of plants

Liver: The largest solid organ in the body, situated in the upper part of the abdomen on the right side. The liver has a multitude of important and complex functions, including to manufacture proteins, including albumin (to help maintain the volume of blood) and blood clotting factors; to synthesize, store, and process fats, including fatty acids (used for energy) and cholesterol; to metabolize and store carbohydrates (used as the source for the sugar in blood); to form and secrete bile that contains bile acids to aid in the intestinal absorption of fats and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K; to eliminate, by metabolizing or secreting, the potentially harmful biochemical products produced by the body, such as bilirubin, from the breakdown of old red blood cells and ammonia from the breakdown of proteins; and to detoxify, by metabolizing and/or secreting, drugs, alcohol, and environmental toxins.

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Liver function tests: Liver function tests (LFTs or LFs), are groups of clinical biochemistry laboratory blood assays designed to give information about the state of a patient's liver.

Local anesthetic: A local anesthetic is a painkiller that's used to numb one part of your body. You usually get local anesthetics as injections.

Loco-regional pancreatic cancer: A primary cancer that has spread to regional lymph nodes and/or resectable (removable) tissues. Removable tissues include some lymph nodes and parts of the duodenum and stomach that are routinely removed in some surgical treatments for pancreatic cancer.

Lungs: The lungs are a pair of breathing organs located with the chest which remove carbon dioxide from and bring oxygen to the blood. There is a right and left lung.

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Lymph: The almost colorless fluid that travels through the lymphatic system, carrying cells that help fight infection and disease.

Lymph nodes: Lymph nodes (also called lymph glands) are small, bean-shaped lumps that you can't usually see or feel easily. You have them in various parts of your body, such as your neck, armpits, and groin. Lymph nodes filter lymph and remove unwanted things from your body, such as bacteria and cancer cells.

Lymphatic system: The lymphatic system is your body's way of clearing unwanted materials from your blood and tissues. It includes a network of lymph nodes that filter these materials to detect if there is an infection that needs to be dealt with by your immune system.

Lymphocytes: White blood cells critical to the immune system’s defense against disease organisms in the body, including cancer cells.

Lymphoma of the Pancreas: Lymphoma of the pancreas is a very rare disease. Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system of the body. As the lymphatic system runs throughout the body, it can crop up anywhere. Because it is a different type of cancer, it is treated differently to the other types of pancreatic cancer.

- M –

Magnetic Resonance Cholangiopancreatography (MRCP): A type of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), MRCP allows the physician to get a picture of the pancreatic ducts, the internal channels of the pancreas that are a prime target of tumors.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): A painless method for taking pictures of internal organs. A tube-like machine with a powerful magnet generates images of the inside of the body.

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Malignant tumor: A cancer that has the potential of invading nearby tissues, spreading to other organs (metastasizing) and possibly leading to the patient's death.

MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) Oil: An easily absorbed form of fat added to medical nutritional products to increase caloric intake.

Medical school: A school with a curriculum leading to a medical degree. The mission of every medical school includes medical teaching, research, and patient care. All medical schools share the goal of preparing students in the art and science of medicine, and providing them with the background necessary to enter the period of graduate medical education. The years of medical school preceding graduate medical education are typically divided into a preclinical phase and a clinical phase.

Metabolism (Metabolic): All the chemical reactions occurring in the body that are necessary to maintain life. The human body metabolizes, or breaks down and rebuilds, nutrients from food for use within the cells.

Metastatic cancer: A cancer that has spread from one organ to another. Pancreas cancer most frequently metastasizes to the liver. In general, cancers that have metastasized are generally not treated surgically, but instead are treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.

Mortality: A fatal outcome or, in one word, death. The word "mortality" is derived from "mortal" which came from the Latin "mors" (death). The opposite of mortality is, of course, immortality. Mortality is also quite distinct from morbidity (illness).

Mortality rate: A death rate. There are a number of different types of mortality rates as, for examples, the following:
  • The fetal mortality rate: The ratio of fetal deaths to the sum of the births (the live births + the fetal deaths) in that year.
  • The infant mortality rate: The number of children dying under a year of age divided by the number of live births that year.
  • The maternal mortality rate: The number of maternal deaths related to childbearing divided by the number of live births (or by the number of live births + fetal deaths) in that year.

Mouth: 1. The upper opening of the digestive tract, beginning with the lips and containing the teeth, gums, and tongue. Foodstuffs are broken down mechanically in the mouth by chewing and saliva is added as a lubricant. Saliva contains amylase, an enzyme that digests starch. 2. Any opening or aperture in the body. The mouth in both senses of the word is also called the os, the Latin word for an opening, or mouth. The o in os is pronounced as in hope. The genitive form of os is oris from which comes the word oral.

Multimodality therapy: The combined use of more than one method of treatment, e.g., surgery and chemotherapy.

Mutation: An alteration in the DNA of a cell.

- N –

Nadir: Period of time following chemotherapy treatment when blood counts generally are at their lowest levels and patients are at greatest risk of developing infection and other blood-related side effects.

Nausea: Stomach queasiness, the urge to vomit. Nausea can be brought on by many causes, including systemic illnesses (such as influenza), medications, pain, and inner ear disease.

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Neck of the pancreas: The thin section between the head and the body of the gland.

Neoadjuvant chemo and radiation therapy: Chemotherapy and radiation therapy given to patients before surgery. Some centers feel that the use of neoadjuvant therapy improves local and regional control of disease and that it may make more patients surgical candidates.

Neoplasia (neoplasm): An abnormal new growth of tissue that grows more rapidly than normal cells and will continue to grow if not treated. These growths will compete with normal cells for nutrients. This is a general term that can refer to benign or malignant growths. It is a synonym for the word tumor.

Needle aspiration biopsy  ( NAB ): Needle aspiration biopsy  (NAB), also known as fine needle aspiration cytology  (FNAC), fine needle aspiration biopsy  (FNAB) and fine needle aspiration  (FNA), is a diagnostic procedure sometimes used to investigate superficial (just under the skin) lumps or masses. In this technique, a thin, hollow needle is inserted into the mass to extract cells that will be examined under a microscope. Fine needle aspiration biopsies are very safe, minor surgical procedures. Often, a major surgical (excisional or open) biopsy can be avoided by performing a needle aspiration biopsy instead.

Neuroendocrine: Having to do with neuroendocrinology: the interactions between the nervous system and the endocrine system.

Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are neoplasms that arise from cells of the endocrine (hormonal) and nervous systems. Many are benign, while some are malignant.

Neutropenia: Less than the normal number of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, which help to defend against bacterial infections.

NG tube: An NG (nasogastric) tube is one that is passed through the nose (via the nasopharynx and esophagus) down into the stomach. An NG tube is a flexible tube made of rubber or plastic and has bidirectional potential. A nasogastric tube can thus be used to remove the contents of the stomach including air (to decompress the stomach) and small solid objects and fluid (e.g., to evacuate poison from the stomach). A nasogastric tube can also be used to instill liquids into the stomach (e.g., to feed the person).

NSAIDs: NSAID stands for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. NSAIDs help with pain, inflammation and fever. They are called 'nonsteroidal' because they don't contain any steroids. Aspirin and ibuprofen are both NSAIDs.

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