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The most common type of non-small cell lung cancer.

Adjuvant therapy

Treatment given after primary therapy (usually chemotherapy after surgery) to kill any remaining cancer cells that may not have been removed by surgery and to help prevent recurrence. 
Adjuvant Trials
These are trials for a therapy, after surgical treatment, when the cancer has been removed, and there is no evidence of metastatic disease.

Advanced NSCLC
Non-small cell lung cancer that has spread in the body to nearby areas.


Microscopic air sacs where oxygen from the air that is breathed in enters the blood, and where carbon dioxide leaves the blood. Plural form of alveolus. 

Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK)

Sits on the surface of the cell and is involved in cell growth and division. Defective versions of the ALK gene have been associated with cancer.


Condition in which blood is deficient in red blood cells, in hemoglobin (oxygen-transporting molecule), or in total volume. 


The development of blood vessels.


Certain minerals that are a known cause of lung cancer. Asbestos minerals can be found in industrial, construction, and commercial products such as cement, house siding, and insulation. 


Not malignant or cancerous.

Surgery that removes more than one lobe of the lung.


The removal of body tissue to test for cancer.

Bone marrow
Tissue that occupies the cavities of most bones. Red bone marrow makes the cells found in blood. 


Treatment with radiation in which the source of radiation is placed in or close to the area being treated. The treatment site is accessed via the bronchi. Also known as endobronchial radiation. 

Brain Metastasis Trials

These clinical trials test therapies for patients whose lung cancer has spread to the brain.

Bronchioalveolar carcinoma 

A subtype of adenocarcinoma that can sometimes grow slowly.


Examination of the major airways within the lung.


The major branches leading from the trachea (wind pipe) to the lungs, providing the passageway for air movement. Plural form of bronchus. 


Minute thin-walled branch of a bronchus. 


See bronchi. 


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.


Substance that is known to cause cancer.

Carcinoid tumour 

Rare, slow-growing tumour that arises from hormone-producing cells that line the bronchi and bronchioles. 


Treatment that combines chemotherapy and radiotherapy. 


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.

Core needle biopsy 

Removal of tissue from the body with a hollow needle. 

CT scan - Computed Tomography scan 

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

CT simulation 

The process of planning radiation therapy in which the doctor locates and marks the target area. Also known as simulation. 

Curative therapy 

Treatment given with the goal of curing cancer. 

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) 

Blood clot inside a vein deep inside the body (usually the legs).


Using tests to identify the cause of certain symptoms. 

Diagnostic Trials

These are clinical trials to test a new diagnostic methodology.


A thin sheet of muscle and tissue that separates the chest cavity and the organs in it from the organs below it in the abdomen. 


Short for deoxyribonucleic acid. DNA is found in all living cells. It makes up the genetic material (genes or chromosomes) responsible for passing on inherited characteristics from parents to their children.

Doublet chemotherapy 

Combination treatment with two chemotherapy drugs. 


An abnormal particle, like an air bubble or piece of a blood clot, circulating in the blood. 

Endobronchial radiation 

See Brachytherapy. 

Endobronchial therapies 

Various procedures performed inside the bronchi to remove airway blockages and make breathing easier. 

Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) 

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.

Epidermal growth factor receptor tryosine kinase inhibitor (EGFR-TKI)

A type of targeted therapy sometimes used in advanced (metastatic) non-small cell lung cancer. See Targeted Therapy.

Extensive stage 

Small cell lung cancer that has spread from one lung to other areas in the body.

External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) 

Treatment with high-energy beams of radiation that are aimed directly at a tumour to kill cancer cells. 


A possible side effect of radiation therapy. Thickening of the tissues underneath the skin in treated area. 

Fine needle aspiration

Removal of tissue of fluid from the body with a thin needle. 

First-line therapy

Initial systemic treatment that has been determined to have the best probability of shrinking the cancer. 

First Line Trials
These are clinical trials for a therapy at the first recurrence.

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.

General anesthetic 

Drugs that create a state of unconsciousness and absence of pain in the entire body. 


Term used to describe how close to abnormal (or different from healthy cells) cancer cells look under a microscope. 


Molecule in red blood cells that transports oxygen. 


Condition in which there is an insufficient amount of oxygen in the blood. 


Treatment of cancer that involves the stimulation, enhancement, suppression, or desensitization of the immune system. 

Large cell carcinoma 

An uncommon type of non-small cell lung cancer.


Voice box; upper part of the respiratory passage that contains the vocal chords. 


An abnormal change in structure of an organ or part due to injury or disease.

L'Hermitte's Syndrome

A rare side effect of radiation therapy in which patients may get numbness and tingling down their legs. This phenomenon, while temporary, can occur three to six months after treatment completion until it is resolved gradually. 

Limited stage 

Small cell lung cancer that is confined to one lung and the area closely around that lung.


One of the compartments of the lung.


Removal of a lobe of a lung. 

Local anesthetic

Drugs that create loss of pain and feeling in a small area of the body. 

Local treatment

Treatment directed at and limited to a specific part of the body. 

Low dose computed tomography (LDCT)

Used in newer screening methods in order to yield a more comprehensive view of the lung tissue while exposing patients to only 20% of the normal CT scan radiation. 

Lymph nodes 

Fluid-filtering glands located throughout the body.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scan (MRI)

A diagnostic test that uses magnetic fields and radio waves in order to produce an image of the body. The primary purpose of an MRI is to detect whether cancer has spread to the brain, spinal cord, nerves, or large blood vessels. 

Maintenance therapy 

Ongoing use of systemic treatment after first-line therapy to prevent a cancer from progressing (that is, from starting to grow again). 

Maintenance Trials

These clinical trials test a therapy, after completion of a line of therapy, usually first-line, to see if it prevents relapse.

Malignant tumour 

A cancerous tumour, which is capable of invading surrounding tissue and spreading to other areas of the body.


The edge of tissue removed during surgery. Margins are examined under a microscope to determine whether all cancerous tissue was removed. 


Surgical incision of the 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.


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.

Mesothelioma Trials

Clinical trials for patients with mesothelioma


Spread of cancer to other organs through the lymphatic system or bloodstream. 

Metastatic lung cancer

Advanced lung cancer that has spread from the primary tumour in the lung to other parts of the body. 

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). 


A change in the DNA sequence that may cause cancer or other diseases. 

Neo-Adjuvant therapy 

Treatment given before primary therapy (usually chemotherapy before surgery) to shrink a tumour. 

Neo-Adjuvant Trials

These are trials for a therapy, prior to definitive surgery.

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) 

One of the major classes of lung cancer. It has three major subtypes: adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.


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

Palliative therapy

Treatment given with the goal of relieving the symptoms of cancer and improving quality of life. 


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.


Cell fragments in the blood that help with blood clotting. 


A thin double-layered membrane that covers the outer surface of the lung and the inner surface of the chest wall.

Pleural effusion 

Collection of fluid between the two layers of the pleural membranes. 

Pleural membrane

Thin, double layer of tissue that envelopes the lungs and the inside wall of the chest cavity. 

Pleural mesothelioma 

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

Pleural space 

The area between the two pleural membranes.


Treatment of severe pleural effusion by sealing the pleural membranes together to remove the cavity between them. 


Surgical removal of an entire lung. Also known as pneumectomy. 

Primary cancer 

The site in the body where the cancer first started.

Primary therapy

Initial treatment given with the intention to cure or prolong life. 

Prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI)

Radiation treatment given to the brain to treat microscopic cancer cells that may have spread to the brain, but so far are undetectable.

Pulmonary embolism 

Blockage of an artery in the lung or one of its smaller branches by a blood clot. 

Radiation therapy

A treatment method that uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells.

Radiation oncologist 

A doctor who specializes in treating cancer with radiation


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.


See Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT).

Radiotherapy Trials

These trials test out a new methodology in delivering radiation treatment.


A naturally occurring, radiative gas created from the decay of uranium in minerals present in rock, soil and water. Radon is the leading environmental cause of lung cancer, the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer in smokers. 


The return of cancer after treatment.

Red blood cells

Cells in the blood that carry oxygen. 


The absence of cancer. 


A doctor who specializes in the treatment of non-malignant diseases of the lung, and performs bronchoscopies.


Using low-dose CT scans in high-risk adults in order to diagnose patients at an earlier and more curable stage. 

Secondary tumour 

Cancer that has spread from where it first started to another part of the body. 

Second-hand smoke 

Exposure to tobacco smoke from someone else smoking.

Second-line therapy

Systemic treatment that is given if the cancer has not responded to or has recurred after first-line therapy or maintenance therapy. 

Second Line Trials

Clinical trials for a therapy at the second recurrence.


Surgery to remove part of a lobe of a lung. Also known as wedge resection. 


See CT simulation. 

Sleeve resection

Surgery to remove a tumour that has grown in a lobe of the lung and a part of a bronchus. The two cut ends of the bronchus are then reattached and the remaining lobes are reconnected to the airways. 

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)

One of the major classes of lung cancer.

Soft-tissue sarcoma

Rare cancer that usually develops in the pleural membranes and grows very slowly. 

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) 

Type of non-small cell lung cancer. 


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


A possible side effect of radiation therapy. Happening in approximately 10% of patients, stenosis is the narrowing of the esophagus.  

Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) 
See Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). 

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) 

Type of external radiation in which very large radiation doses are given in a short treatment time. Compared to other types of radiotherapy, this technique delivers less radiation to normal tissue. Also known as radiosurgery or stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR). 


An operation to remove or repair a part of the body. 

Surgery Trials

These clinical trials test a new surgical procedure.

Symptomatic Therapy Trials

These clinical trials test a therapy for the control of symptoms associated with the disease or with a therapy.

Systemic treatment

Treatment with drugs that enter the bloodstream and affect the entire body. 

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.


A possible side effect of radiation therapy. Diluted blood vessels that appear in treated area. 

Third-line therapy 

Systemic treatment that is given if the cancer has not responded to or has recurred after second-line therapy. 

Third Line Trials

Trials for a therapy at the third recurrence.

Removal of fluid from the chest with a needle. 

Thoracic surgical oncologist 

A surgeon who specializes in diagnosing and treating lung cancer and other tumours of the chest.


Surgical incision of the chest wall. 


The chest. 


Blood clot inside a blood vessel (usually a vein). 

TNM staging system

A system used to classify the extent of cancer. It considers the size of the tumour and the spread of cancer to lymph nodes and other parts of the body. 


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


A diagnostic test that uses high-frequency sound waves in order to detect the presence of excess fluid in and around the lungs, and to find out whether cancer has spread to the liver. 

Vascular Epidermal Growth Factor (VEGF)

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.

Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS)
Chest surgery carried out with the help of a video camera. 

Wedge resection

See Segmentectomy. 

White blood cells

Cells of the immune system found in the blood. They help fight infections and disease. 


A diagnostic image produced by the use of low dose radiation