AAMG Gynecologic Specialty Surgeons Team

Patient Glossary

Benign: non-cancerous condition, does not invade nearby tissue or spread to other parts of the body.

Biopsy: surgical removal of a small portion of tissue for a diagnosis.

BRCA1/BRCA2 Genes (BReast Cancer genes): genes that help limit cell growth. A mutation (change) in one of these genes increases a person’s risk of breast, ovarian, and certain other cancers.

Cancer: a disease in which abnormal cells divide without control. These cells can invade and damage nearby tissue or organs. They can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.

Conization: a procedure for removal of a cone-shaped piece of tissue from around the opening of the cervix.

Cytology: during surgery, the abdomen is flushed with saline solution to pick up any floating cancer cells. This is also called peritoneal washings.

Dilatation and curettage (D&C): a procedure to remove tissue from inside the uterus.

Fertility preservation: the process of saving or protecting eggs or reproductive tissue so that a person can have biological children in the future.

Gene: the part of a cell that contains DNA. The DNA information in a person’s genes is inherited from both sides of a person’s family.

Gene mutation: any change in the DNA (the information contained in a gene) of a cell. Gene mutations may be harmful, beneficial, or have no effect.

Frozen section: a procedure done by a pathologist during an operation to give the surgeon an immediate answer as to whether a tissue is benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Grade: tumor grade is the description of a tumor based on how abnormal the tumor cells and tissue appear under the microscope.

Hysterectomy: surgical removal of the uterus.

Laparoscopy: an operation using small instruments and a camera that are inserted into the abdomen through small incisions to perform complex surgeries. The smaller incisions allow for faster healing and less complications than conventional open procedures.

Lymph node dissection: a surgical operation performed to remove the lymph nodes as part of a cancer staging operation.

Lynch syndrome: an inherited condition that increases the risk of colon cancer, endometrial cancer, and several other cancers.

Malignant: cancerous.

Metastasis: spread of cancer to other organs through the lymphatic and/or circulatory system.

Oncofertility: the medical field that bridges the specialties of oncology and reproductive endocrinology with the aim of maximizing the reproductive potential of cancer patients and survivors who desire to have biological children in the future.

Risk reducing surgery: a prophylactic approach with removal of organs at high risk of developing cancer, which is performed in cases without lesions or absence of clinically significant lesions.

Robotic surgery: a type of laparoscopy using very small instruments controlled by the surgeon using robotic arms. This allows complex surgeries to be performed through very small incisions. This is called the da Vinci system.

Salpingo-oophorectomy: surgical removal of the fallopian tube and ovary.

Stage: stage refers to mapping of where a cancer may or may not have spread. In gynecologic oncology, staging of cancer is surgical. Determination of the stage is important for planning the most effective treatment.

Trachelectomy: surgical removal of the cervix, the lower portion of the uterus that protrudes into the vagina. Trachelectomy is performed in younger women with early cancer of the cervix.