Barrett's Esophagus

Glossary of Terms

I - L

In situ
A term used to indicate that cancerous cells are present in the lining of an organ but have not spread to the "meat" of the tissue.
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.
Liver
The largest organ in the body, located in the right upper part of the abdomen. It performs many life-maintaining functions including the production of bile. It detoxifies the blood of drugs, alcohol and other harmful chemical. It processes nutrients absorbed by the intestine and stores essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Bilirubin is a chemical produced when old or damaged blood cells breakdown. The liver chemically process the bilirubin so that it can dissolve in water and be excreted through the bile. When this process is disrupted, jaundice can develop.
Loco-regional cancer
A primary cancer that has spread to regional lymph nodes and/or resectable (removable) tissues. Removable tissues include some lymph nodes that are routinely removed in some surgical treatments for cancer.
Lymph nodes
Normal, round, raisin to grape-sized collections of lymphocytes (white blood cells) found throughout the body. Lymph nodes are connected to each other by lymphatic vessels. They normally help fight infection, but also are one of the first sites to which cancers spread. In general, the spread of cancer to lymph nodes portends a worse prognosis for the patient. There are exceptions to this.