LUNG Cancer

Benign tumor: An abnormal mass of tissue that is not cancerous, that will not invade nearby tissue or spread to other parts of the body. (Compare malignant tumor.

Biopsy: A medical test of body tissue removed through surgery or with a long needle and examined under a microscope. A biopsy can determine whether tissue cells are cancerous and, if so, what type of cancer is involved.

Carcinogen: An agent known to cause cancer; a cancer-producing substance.

Carcinogenesis: The origin and growth of cancer.

Carcinoma: A cancerous growth.

Chemotherapy: Treatment with anti-cancer drugs.

Clinical trial: A study conducted to evaluate new cancer treatments as well as methods of prevention, detection, and diagnosis. Clinical trials break patients out into two groups: a control group, where patients receive standard anti-cancer treatments, and a test group, which gets the experimental drugs and therapies.

Control group: The randomly selected group of patients in a clinical trial who receive standard treatment rather than the experimental therapy.

Counteracting drugs: Medications that work against the side effects produced by chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

CAT scan (computer-assisted tomography, also known as a CT scan): A series of detailed pictures of an area inside the body generated by a computer linked to an x-ray machine.

Eligibility criteria: The features or characteristics of the potential subject's cancer, general health, and other factors that determine whether or not he or she can be included in a clinical trial.

Lymph nodes (also called lymph glands): Small, bean-shaped structures that store special cells which can trap cancer cells or bacteria traveling through the body.

Lymphatic system: The tissues and organs that produce, store, and carry cells that fight infection and disease. This system includes the bone marrow, spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes.

Malignant tumor: An abnormal mass of tissue having cancerous cells that will grow and divide without control, may invade nearby tissues, and can spread throughout the body via the bloodstream and lymphatic system.

Mediastinoscopy: A procedure involving the insertion of a tube into the chest, so that a doctor can view the organs in the mediastinum, or the area between the lungs (including the heart and its veins and arteries, the trachea, the esophagus, the bronchi, and lymph nodes). An incision is made above the breastbone to insert the tube.

Metabolism: The process by which food is transformed into living matter or used to supply energy in the body.

Metastasis: The spread of cancer through the bloodstream and lymph system from one part of the body to another. The secondary (metastatic) tumor has cells like those found in the primary (original) tumor.

Metastatic Lung Cancer: Cancer that originated in the lung and has traveled to another part of the body.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): An investigative procedure in which a magnet linked to a computer is used to create pictures of an area inside the body.

Nonsmall cell lung cancer: A lung cancer classification that includes squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.

Outpatient: A person who visits a hospital for treatment but does not remain there.

Radiation: Anti-cancer therapy or treatment using high-energy rays (x-rays, radium, neutrons) beamed to the tumor site to destroy cancer cells.

Radiation oncologist: A physician specializing in the treatment of cancer through radiation.

Respiratory therapy: Exercises and treatments that help patients recover lung function after surgery.

Small cell lung cancer: A type of lung cancer with small, round, rapidly growing cells, often called "oat cells" because of their shape.

Sputum cytology: A test in which mucus coughed up from the lungs or breathing tubes is examined under a microscope to detect cancer cells.

Steroids: Organic compounds including certain hormones and other bodily secretions such as adrenaline. Artificial steroids are given to cancer patients to combat the nausea caused by many chemotherapy drugs.

Support group: A group of individuals with a similar or identical physical or mental condition who gather to share their thoughts and feelings about their condition and offer support to one another.

Test group: The randomly selected group of patients in a clinical trial who are given the experimental drugs or therapies.

Tumor: An abnormal mass of tissue caused by excessive cell growth and division. Tumors perform no useful body function and are either benign (not cancerous) or malignant (having cancer).

X-ray: A photograph or examination made by using electromagnetic radiation, which can penetrate solid objects and see through them.