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Glossary of Lung-Cancer Related Terms

A - D, E - O, P - Z

Adenocarcinoma
A type of non-small cell lung cancer that develops on the lining or inner surface of the lungs and other organs.
Adjuvant therapy
Secondary treatments intended to complement an initial therapy or treatment. Examples include chemotherapy and radiation.
Air pollution
Air that contains potentially toxic levels of diesel exhaust, coal products and other hazardous substances. Long exposure to high levels of air pollution has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer.
Alveoli
Small internal air passages that connect the bronchi to lobes of the lung.
Anemia
A common side effect of chemotherapy that involves a reduced level in red blood cell count.
Antiemetics
Cancer drugs prescribed primarily to minimize nausea and vomiting side effects of chemotherapy.
Asbestos
A naturally occurring fiber that, when inhaled, has been linked to the formation of mesothelioma. Production of asbestos products is banned or limited throughout much of the world.
Aspiration
The process of extracting a sample of bodily fluid with the use of a needle (often used to diagnose lung cancer). The term may also refer to inhalation of fluids into the lungs.
Atelectasis
A medical term that refers to lung collapse.
Benign
A tumor growth that is not cancerous, and therefore does not invade surrounding tissue.
Biopsy
Examining bodily tissue in an attempt to diagnose cancer. Biopsy tissue can be extracted via aspiration, bronchoscopy, surgical removal and other methods.
Brachytherapy
A form of localized cancer treatment that involves the insertion of radioactive material directly to the tumor source via needles, wires, catheters or other means.
Bronchi
Any of the large passageways that connect the lungs to the windpipe.
Bronchioles
Air passageways that connect the bronchi to various lobes of the lung.
Bronchorrhea
A large-quantity discharge of mucus that originates in the lungs.
Bronchoscopy
The use of a tiny camera to view the internal lung structure in an attempt to identify abnormal areas or tumors. The camera is typically inserted into the body through the nose and down the throat.
Bronchus
The singular form of bronchi (airways that connect the lungs to the windpipe).
Cancer
A collective term for illnesses that involve the accelerated division and growth of abnormal cells. Cancer cells hijack healthy cells, cause tumors and spread to other parts of the body.
Carcinoma
A type of cancer that originates in the skin or any tissue that lines an internal organ.
Chemoprevention agents
Any substance that is used to prevent the onset of cancer or reduce the potential for cancer to return. Vitamin supplements such as selenium that are thought to reduce the risk of cancer are good examples of chemoprevention agents.
Chemotherapy
The process of fighting cancer with medications that are designed to kill cancer cells.
Chest examination
A type of examination use by doctors to spot potential signs of lung cancer. Involves visual examination of the chest and use of a stethoscope to identify abnormal breathing patterns.
Chest X-ray
A medical procedure that can aid in lung cancer diagnosis. Involves the use of high-energy radiation to take a snapshot of internal organs.
Clinical trials
Any kind of research program that uses patient volunteers to test new methods for treating, preventing or screening an illness.
Complementary medicine
Any type of non-traditional therapy that may be used to enhance the benefits of traditional therapy. Examples include aromatherapy and meditation.
Complete remission
When absolutely no traces of cancer can be found in the body following cancer treatment.
Consolidation therapy
A type of treatment administered after induction therapy. The goal of consolidation therapy is to prolong remission.
Cross-resistance
Occurs when drug resistance exhibited by a microorganism results in resistance to chemically similar treatments as well.
Computed tomography scan (CAT or CT scan)
A medical procedure used to diagnose cancer that combines numerous x-ray images taken from different angles to create a detailed image of the internal body.
Doubling time
A term used to define the amount of time necessary for a population of cancer cells to double in size.
Dyspnea
Medical term for labored breathing.