Glossary of Cancer Terms

   

Laparoscopy

A surgical procedure in which a lighted instrument shaped like a thin tube is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen. The doctor can look through the instrument and see inside the abdomen.

Laparotomy

The surgical opening of the abdomen; an abdominal operation.

Laryngectomy

An operation to remove all or part of the larynx.

Laryngoscope

A flexible, lighted tube used to examine the larynx.

Laryngoscopy

Examination of the larynx with a mirror (indirect laryngoscopy) or with a laryngoscope (direct laryngoscopy).

Larynx, laryngeal
(Voice box)

An organ in the throat used in breathing, swallowing, and talking. It is made of cartilage and muscle and is lined by a mucous membrane similar to the lining of the mouth. The larynx has three parts supraglottis, glottis, and the subglottis.

Laser

A device that emits intense heat and power at close range, a tool used in surgery and in diagnosis (acronym = Light Amplification by Stimulated Emmission of Radiation)

Latissimus flap

Flap of skin and muscle taken from the back used for reconstruction after mastectomy or partial mastectomy.

   
Leiomyosarcoma Sarcomas are uncommon malignant tumors that begin either in bones or in soft tissues such as muscles, cartilage, fat or connective tissue. They make up about 1% of cancers in adults and 15% in children. Leiomyosarcoma's are tumors of the smooth muscle, such as found in the wall of the bowel. Leiomyosarcomas can arise from the smooth muscle of the uterus or a benign fibroid. These make up about 30 percent of all uterine sarcomas. There are three tumor categories related to the tumor's grade or activity; low, intermediate and high grade. High grade are the faster growing cancers.

Lesion

An area of abnormal tissue, an injury or wound, or a single infected patch in a skin disease.

Leukemia

Is a cancer of the cells in the blood. It usually involves the various forms and stages of the white blood cells, although rarely it may involve red blood cells and platelets. Leukemia is classified according to the dominant cell type and severity of the disease.

Leukocyte

White blood cell.

Leukoplakia

A white spot or patch in the mouth. These lesions may become malignant.

Lifestyle risk factor

Personal behavior, such as smoking, that may increase a person’s risk for cancer. Also called behavioral risk factor.

Li-Fraumeni Syndrome

A family predisposition to multiple cancers, caused by a mutation in the p53 tumor-suppressor gene.

Limb perfusion

A technique that may be used to deliver anticancer drugs directly to an arm or leg. The flow of blood to and from the limb is temporarily stopped with a tourniquet, and anticancer drugs are put directly into the blood of the limb. This allows the person to receive a high dose of the drugs in the area where the cancer occurred.

Linear accelerator

A radiation therapy machine that produces high-energy radiation to treat cancers, using electricity to form a stream of fast-moving subatomic particles; also called mega-voltage (MeV) linear accelerator or a linac.

Liposarcoma A type of soft tissue sarcoma in which the tissue of origin is fat. Soft tissue sarcomas are uncommon malignant tumors that begin in the soft tissues such as muscles, cartilage, fat, or connective tissue. Each year, in the United States, there are about 6,000 cases of soft tissue sarcomas, making up 1% of all cancers in adults and 15% of all cancers in children. There are at least 56 different types of soft tissue sarcomas named according to the normal tissues from which the tumor is derived. In most cases, surgery is considered first-line therapy.
Liver A large, glandular organ located in the upper abdomen. The liver cleanses the blood and aids in digestion by secreting bile.
Liver (hepatocellular) Cancer A disease in which malignant (cancer) cells are found in the tissues of the liver. Cancer originating in the liver itself, or primary liver cancer is relatively uncommon in the United States.

Lobe

A well-defined part of an organ separated by boundaries.

Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS)

An early cancer or pre-cancerous cells found in the lobules of the breast. The cells have not developed the ability to become invasive yet. LCIS tends to be thought of as a marker for the risk of developing cancer. Since LCIS tends to reflect risk in both breasts, it is not usually possible to remove all of the tumor without removing all of both breasts. This is excessive treatment in most situations, so very careful follow-up is often recommended after removal of the in situ lesion.

Lobule

A small lobe or division of a lobe.

Local anesthetic

A medicine that blocks the feeling of pain in a specific location in the body.

Local therapy

Treatment that affects cells in the tumor and the immediate area surrounding it.

Local therapy, local treatment

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

Localization biopsy

The use of mammography to locate tissue containing an abnormality that can be detected only on mammograms, so it can be removed for microscopic examination.

Lumbar puncture

Puncture made by placing a needle into the subarachnoid space of the spinal cord. Usually done in the lumbar area at the level of the 4th intervertebral space. Also called a spinal tap. The purpose is for removal of spinal fluid for diagnostic purposes, or for the injection of an anesthetic or chemotherapy.

Lumen

The cavity or channel within a tube or tubular organ such as a blood vessel or the intestine.

Lumpectomy

Surgery to remove a lump or tumor and a small amount of normal tissue around it.

Lung One of two sponge-like, cone-shaped organs located in the chest. The right lung has three sections, called lobes, it is a little larger than the left lung, which has two lobes. The purpose of the lungs is to bring air and blood into contact so that oxygen can be added to the blood and carbon dioxide can be removed.
Lung Cancer Cancer which occurs in the lung. It is the second most common cancer and the number-one cause of cancer death in both men and women. There are two general types of lung cancer - small cell and nonsmall cell. Nonsmall cell is much more common, accounting for 75% of all lung cancer cases.

Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonist ( LH-RH agonist)

A drug that inhibits the secretion of sex hormones. (follicle -stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland. In men, LH-RH agonist causes testosterone levels to fall. In women, LH-RH agonist causes the levels of estrogen and other sex hormones to fall.

Lymph

The almost colorless fluid that travels through the lymphatic system and carries cells that help fight infection and disease.

Lymph nodes

Oval-shaped organs, often the size of peas or beans, that are located throughout the body and contain clusters of cells called lymphocytes. They produce infection-fighting lymphocytes and also filter out and destroy bacteria, foreign substances and cancer cells. They are connected by small vessels called lymphatics. Lymph nodes act as our first line of defense against infections and the spread of cancer.

Lymphangiogram

An X-ray picture of the abdominal lymph nodes obtained by injecting a contrast substance under the skin on the feet. This test helps to determine if cancer has spread to the abdominal lymph nodes.

Lymphangiosarcoma A type of soft tissue sarcoma in which the tissue of origin is the lymph vessels. Soft tissue sarcomas are uncommon malignant tumors that begin in the soft tissues such as muscles, cartilage, fat, or connective tissue. Each year, in the United States, there are about 6,000 cases of soft tissue sarcomas, making up 1% of all cancers in adults and 15% of all cancers in children. There are at least 56 different types of soft tissue sarcomas named according to the normal tissues from which the tumor is derived. In most cases, surgery is considered first-line therapy.

Lymphatic system

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

Lymphedema

Swelling, usually of an arm or leg, caused by obstructed lymphatic vessels. It can develope because of a tumor or as an unusual late effect of surgery or radiotherapy.

Lymphocytes, lymphocytic

A family of white blood cells responsible for the production of antibodies and for the direct destruction of invading organisms or cancer cells.

Lymphoid

Referring to lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. Also refers to tissue in which lymphocytes develop.

Lymphoma

Cancer that arises in cells of the lymphatic system.

 

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