Glossary of Lung Cancer Terms

Ablation therapies

Treatment involving destruction or removal of diseased tissue.

Adenocarcinoma

A form of non-small cell lung cancer often found in an outer area of the lung. It develops in the cells of epithelial tissues, which line the cavities and surfaces of the body and form glands.

Adjuvant therapy

Treatment given after the main type of treatment (usually surgery) to increase the chances of cure.

Advance directive

A legal document that tells the doctor and family what a person wants for future medical care should the person later become unable to make decisions for him or herself.

Alternative therapy

Alternative therapy is used in place of standard medical treatments.

Alveoli

Very small air sacs at the end of each bronchiole.

Anti-angiogenesis therapy

Angiogenesis is when cancerous tumors create new blood vessels, which helps them grow and spread. This therapy uses drugs to prevent the growth of new blood vessels to tumors.

Biomarker

A molecule found in the body that is a sign of a normal or abnormal process, or of a condition or disease. Biomarker testing can provide important information about treatment options.

Biopsy

The removal of a small piece of tissue for laboratory examination.

Bone scan

A small, safe amount of radioactive substance is put into the vein. This substance builds up in areas of bone that may not be normal because of cancer. These areas show up as dense, gray to black areas, called "hot spots." These areas may indicate cancer.

Brachytherapy (internal or implant radiation therapy)

Sealed radioactive material is placed directly into or near the tumor.

Bronchioles

The smallest airways branching off from each bronchus.

Bronchoscopy

A lighted, flexible tube (called a bronchoscope) is passed through the mouth or nose and into the large airways of the lungs. This test can help the doctor see tumors, or it can be used to take samples of tissue or fluids to see if cancer cells are present. Learn more about bronchoscopy.

Bronchus

Either of the two major branches of the tracheas (windpipe) that lead to the lungs. The trachea divides to form the right and left main bronchi (pleural of bronchus) which lead to each of the lungs.

Cancer survival rates

The percentage of people who survive a certain type of cancer for a specific amount of time. Cancer statistics often use an overall five-year survival rate. If the overall five-year survival rate of a certain cancer is 80 percent, that means that of all people diagnosed with that cancer, 80 of every 100 were living five years after diagnosis.

Capillaries

Very small blood vessels where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged.

Carcinoma in situ

Cancer cells are found only in the innermost lining of the lung. The tumor has not grown through the lining.

Cellular pathways

Complex systems of proteins and other molecules that, when turned on, change how the cells act. Sometimes these pathways tell the cell to do something abnormal, which leads to disease.

Cilia

Tiny hairs that sweep fluids and foreign particles out of the airway so that they stay out of the lungs.

Complementary therapy

Non-standard treatment used in addition to standard treatment.

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