Glossary

Glossary of Key Medical Terms

Adenocarcinoma - the most common type of non-small cell lung cancer

Adjuvant therapy - the use of another form of treatment after surgical removal of the cancer

ALK - Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase - sits on the surface of thecell and is involved in cell growth and division. Defective versions of the ALK gene have been associated with cancer

Angiogenesis - the development of blood vessels

Benign - not malignant or cancerous

Bilobectomy - surgery that removes more than one lobe of the lung

Biopsy - the removal of body tissue to test for cancer

Bronchioalveolar carcinoma - a subtype of adenocarcinoma that can sometimes grow slowly

Bronchoscopy - examination of the major airways within the lung

Bronchi - the major branches leading from the trachea (wind pipe) to the lungs, providing the passageway for air movement

Cancer - a malignant tumor or malignant neoplasm; a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body

Carcinogen - substance that is known to cause cancer

Chemotherapy - a category of cancer treatment that uses chemical substances, especially one or more anti-cancer drugs that are given as part of a standardized chemotherapy regimen

CT scan - Computed Tomography scan - a computer assisted x-ray that shows the location of tumours. Also called a CAT scan (Computed Axial Tomography)

EGFR - Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor - sits on the surface of the cell and is part of cell growth and division. Over expression or mutations in the receptor may lead to cancer

Extensive stage - small cell lung cancer that has spread from one lung to other areas in the body

Five-year survival rate - a statistic that describes the percentage of people, all with the same cancer stage, who are alive and free of cancer five years following its diagnosis.

Large cell carcinoma- an uncommon type of non-small cell lung cancer

Lesion - an abnormal change in structure of an organ or part due to injury or disease

Limited stage - small cell lung cancer that is confined to one lung and the area closely around that lung

Lobe - one of the compartments of the lung

Lymph nodes - fluid-filtering glands located throughout the body

Malignant tumour - a cancerous tumour, which is capable of invading surrounding tissue and spreading to other areas of the body

Mediastinum - the middle area of the chest between the lungs that contains structures such as the trachea, lymph nodes, heart and esophagus

Medical oncologist - a doctor who specializes in treating cancer with chemotherapy drugs

Mesothelioma - a cancer that develops in the pleura and is usually related to asbestos exposure. It is not a lung cancer but is treated by many of the same specialists that treat lung cancer

Metastasis - spread of cancer to other organs through the lymphatic system and/or bloodstream

Metastatic tumour - refers to those tumours that have spread from the primary lung cancer (also called secondary tumours)

Molecular testing - occurs in a laboratory where a sample of the tumour is studied to understand the specific makeup of a tumour (e.g., presence of specific mutations or genes)

Non-small cell lung cancer - one of the major classes of lung cancer. It has three major subtypes: adenocarcinoma, squamous cellcarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma

Oncologist - a doctor who specializes in treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in chemotherapy (medical oncologists), radiotherapy (radiation oncologists), or surgery (surgical oncologists)

Palliative care - treatment aimed at the relief of pain and other symptoms

Pathologist - a doctor who diagnoses lung cancer by studying fluid or tissue under a microscope

PET scan - Positron Emission Tomography - a scan that uses a tracer to send signals to a special camera that converts those signals into 3D images

Pleura - a thin membrane that covers the outer surface of the lung and the inner surface of the chest wall

Pleural space - the area between the two pleural membranes

Primary cancer - the site in the body where the cancer first started

Prophylactic cranial radiation - radiation treatment given to the brain to treat microscopic cancer cells that may have spread to the brain, but so far are undetectable

Radiation - a treatment method that uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells

Radiation oncologist - a doctor who specializes in treating cancer with radiation

Radiologist - a doctor who reads x-rays, CT scans, and other medical imaging. Some radiologists also perform diagnostic procedures, such as needle biopsies, using medical imaging for guidance

Recurrence - the return of cancer after treatment

Remission - the absence of disease

Respirologist - a doctor who specializes in the treatment of nonmalignant diseases of the lung, and performs bronchoscopies

Second-hand smoke - exposure to tobacco smoke from someone else smoking

Small cell lung cancer - one of the major classes of lung cancer

Squamous cell carcinoma - a type of non-small cell lung cancer

Staging - a classification used to describe the size and extent of a primary tumour and whether it shows evidence of metastasis

Targeted therapy - Traditionally, treatment options for lung cancer have included surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Recently, another class of drugs called targeted drugs is being used for patients with advanced (metastatic) non-small cell lung cancer. Targeted therapies are designed to target specific parts of the cancer cell (e.g, defective genes or mutations) and interfere with their ability to grow and spread. Since targeted therapies directly target cancer cells and not the normal healthy cells in the body, they do not have the same side effects as chemotherapy. Some of these targeted therapies are taken orally which offers the added convenience of being able to take treatment at home.

Thoracic surgical oncologist - a surgeon who specializes in diagnosing and treating lung cancer and other tumours of the chest

Tumour - an abnormal mass or clump of cells that can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous)

VATS - Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery

VEGF - Vascualar Epidermal Growth Factor - a signalling protein in the cell that participates in the growth and development of blood vessels. Over expression of this protein may lead to cancer

X-ray - a diagnostic image produced by the use of low dose radiation