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Glossary of Lung-Cancer Related Terms

A - D, E - O, P - Z

Palliation
The process of using therapy to treat symptoms and improve comfort of a patient. Palliative care is typically recommended for patients that are beyond the option of direct treatment of the illness.
Partial remission
Following cancer treatment, a reduction in tumor size of greater than 50 percent.
Performance status
The process of analyzing patient criteria to properly assess how a disease is progressing within the body.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan
A procedure used to identify and diagnose cancer. The process involves the administration of a radioactive glucose to the bloodstream. Heightened sugar intake of cancer cells allows a scanner to identify cancerous masses in the body.
Physical examination
An initial doctor procedure that may be used to identify potential signs of cancer. When looking for lung cancer, a physical exam may result in the identification of swollen lymph nodes, irregular breathing or other signs of the illness.
Platelets
A special type of blood cell that is responsible for initiating blood clots.
Pleura
An exterior membrane that lines the chest wall and encases the lungs.
Pneumonectomy
A surgical procedure that removes an entire side of the lung.
Prognosis
Refers to the likely or expected survival rate in relation to an illness.
Radiation therapy
A type of targeted cancer treatment that uses high-energy radiation to kill off cancer cells.
Radiation exposure
The process of coming into contact with radiation waves. A common source of radiation exposure is chest x-rays. Radiation exposure may increase the risk of lung cancer.
Radon
An odorless gas that has been linked to certain types of cancer. Radon occurs naturally in many types of soil and rocks. High levels of radon have been reported in homes from a variety of regions in the United States.
Recurrence
The return or regrowth of cancer following surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.
Red blood cells (RBCs)
The blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body.
Remission
A permanent or temporary event that occurs when all signs and symptoms of cancer disappear.
Resection
The removal of part of an organ via surgery.
Small cell lung cancer
An aggressive type of lung cancer that exhibits a small, round cell structure. Small cell lung cancer accounts for roughly 15 percent of all lung cancer cases.
Secondhand smoke
The environmental smoke released into the air from cigarettes. Secondhand smoke inhaled by non-smokers has been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer.
Series of genetic changes
A variety of genetic mutations within healthy cells that ultimately allows cancer to manifest and grow. Examples within this series of genetic change include mutations in genes that limit cellular growth and genes responsible for cellular division.
Spiral computerized tomography (spiral CT scan)
A more sophisticated screening version of the traditional CT scan. Spiral scans take imagery via a long, spiral route around the chest.
Sputum
Lung discharge such as mucus that is coughed up into the mouth.
Sputum cytology
The process of reviewing sputum under a microscope in an attempt to identify cancer cells. More here.
Staging
A process that intends to define the extent of cancer progression. Cancer stages are based on the size of the primary tumor and whether or not the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
Supraclavicular lymph nodes
The lymph nodes located between the inferior belly of the shoulder muscle and the clavicle.
Synergy
A term used to describe the heightened effectiveness of two drugs when used in combination.
Systemic
Refers to any illness that affects the entire body.
Targeted therapies
Drug treatments that specifically attack cancer cells or the functions that allow them to propagate.
TNM (staging system)
A staging system that delineates a cancer's stage based on three components – size of the primary tumor (T), status of growth in the lymph nodes (N) and presence or absence of metastases (M).
Tomography
An imaging process that places internal body images along a pre-determined plane of tissue.
Tuberculosis
An illness that may cause scarring on the lungs. This scarring has been identified as an increased risk factor for lung cancer.
Tumor
A mass of tissue that results from the process of accelerated cell division. Tumors may be cancerous or non-cancerous.
Tumor marker
Any factor that may indicate the presence of cancer cells. An example of a tumor marker is a heightened level of certain proteins in the blood.
Trachea
The internal passageway that connects the larynx to the bronchial portion of the lungs.
White blood cell
A type of blood cell responsible for fighting infections and diseases. Common types of white blood cells include lymphocytes and neutrophils.