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Lung Cancer Glossary of Terms

Benign: used to describe a mass that is neither progressive nor has spread to other tissue. Most importantly, benign tumors are rarely a threat to life.

Biopsy: removal of a piece of tumor or a tissue sample for microscopic examination. This sample may be used to determine the type and stage of cancer.

Bronchoscopy: examination of the bronchi (large tubes branching off the trachea, sometimes called the windpipe) through the use of an instrument called a bronchoscope. This exam is conducted in order to find tumors.

Chemotherapy: anti-cancer drugs injected into the blood stream or taken by mouth. For lung cancer patients, chemotherapy is usually only a part of the full treatment plan.

Lobectomy: a surgical procedure where a section or lobe of the lung is removed.

Malignant: used to describe a cancerous growth

Mediastinoscopy: examination of the mediastinum (the area between the two lungs) using a flexible tube inserted via a small incision in the chest in order to collect a tissue sample.

Mesothelioma: a type of cancer associated with asbestos exposure.

Metastasis: spread of cancer cells from the original site to other parts of the body.

Modality: type or kind of treatment (e.g., surgery).

Morbidity: the relative incidence of disease.

Mortality: the yearly proportion of deaths to the population.

Needle Biopsy: a procedure during which a hollow needle is used to obtain a core of tissue for study.

Neoadjuvant therapy: treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy before surgery.

Non-Small Cell Carcinoma: the more common form of lung cancer. Generally it includes the following cell types: squamous cell, adenocarcinomas, and large cell carcinoma.

Oat Cell Carcinoma: another name for small cell lung cancer.

Oncologist: physician who specializes in the study, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.

Pneumonectomy: a surgical procedure where an entire lung is removed.

Prognosis: prediction of the probable course and outcome of a disease, based on averages calculated from a large population.

Pulmonologist: a physician who specializes in diseases of the lung and lung complications related to treatment. A pulmonologist is often the first to see and evaluate patients with a suspected lung cancer.

Pericardial effusions: fluid inside the membrane that surrounds the heart.

Radiation therapy: this type of therapy involves the use of high-energy rays to kill or reduce the amount of cancer cells. Because there are many forms of radiation therapy, a radiation oncologist will design the best treatment plan for your type of cancer.

Randomized clinical trial: a clinical trial that uses chance to sort participants into groups: randomizing provides a mechanism based on numbers whereby groups will have similar characteristics and comparisons between treatments will be valid.

Small Cell Carcinoma: a less common form of lung cancer also called oat cell carcinoma.

Spiral CT: low-dose multidetector spiral computed tomography (CT) is an imaging technique that can screen asymptomatic, high-risk individuals for small lung nodules before they appear on traditional x-rays.

Stage: describes how much cancer is present. Determination of a cancer's stage is essential in choosing the best treatment

Thoracic surgeon: a surgeon who specializes in the removal of tumors of the chest through surgery, including minimally invasive surgical techniques.

VATS (video assisted thoracoscopic surgery). A surgical procedure by which small incisions are made in the chest during surgery. A small camera is placed in one of these incisions and surgical instruments are used in the other incisions in order to retrieve tissue.

Wedge resection: a surgical procedure to remove a section of one lobe of the lung.