Glossary of Terms


Adenocarcinoma is most often seen as a form of non-small cell lung cancer, but it can extend to other parts of the body. In this form of cancer, there is a development of cancer cells in the glandular types of organs inside the body. The organs impacted are usually lungs, but there could also be development in the colon, prostate, breasts, pancreas, stomach, and cervix. This is one of the most common forms of lung cancer diagnosed, making up a good portion of NSCLC cases across the world.

Most forms of adenocarcinoma can be treated through traditional means, like chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and surgery. The ideal solutions will come when the cancer can be caught early on. This cancer may not spread as quickly as small cell lung cancer would, but it can still be deadly if it goes unregulated. A doctor can prescribe different treatment methods based on the severity of your cancer to get rid of the cancer cells and prevent them from reproducing.

Patients who have lung cancer will be tested for adenocarcinoma to see if it is the source of the problem. If so, the cancer can be treated and hopefully eliminated from the body. There is no cure for adenocarcinoma at the moment, but scientists are coming close to finding the perfect treatment.


The term benign is usually used to classify a tumor. It represents a tumor that does not have the ability to grow and spread in the body. Benign tumors are not to be worried about because they will not cause serious health issues like malignant ones will. There are some rare forms of benign tumors that can cause a negative effect on the body, like those that impact vital organs or endocrine tissues. Common harmful forms of benign tumors include thyroid adenomas, pituitary adenomas, and adrenocortical adenomas.

Benign tumors have a shield around them that prevent them from spreading. This is also known as a fibrous sheath, and it is what keeps the tumor from turning malignant. This sheath may not last forever as there are certain forms of benign tumors that can develop into malignant ones. The most common tumor that does this is teratoma, but there are others that patients must be aware of.

There are many different forms of benign tumors, and they can be located in just about any area of the body. They develop many different symptoms that patients can watch for, but some of the most common symptoms include: cosmetic changes, itching, obstruction of the intestines, compression of blood vessels, or bleeding that causes anemia. People with cancer in their family history are more likely to develop a benign tumor than other people.


A biopsy is a procedure that is used to diagnose cancer in patients who may have the condition. It can be used for any cancer, from lung cancer to uterine cancer. To conduct a biopsy, a doctor must gather a sample of cells or tissue from the part of the body he or she thinks is infected with cancer. Then the doctor will examine the sample to see if that is the case.

For the most part, an imaging test like an X-ray will spark a doctor to request a biopsy for a patient. This process can be invasive, so doctors will avoid going through with it until they have a mass identified that they need to examine further. Images may not be able to determine if cells are cancerous, but a biopsy can.

There are several different forms of biopsies out there that may impact different parts of the body. Some of the most common biopsies a patient can go through include bronchoscopy, colonoscopy, cystoscopy, liver biopsy, needle biopsy, and bone marrow biopsy. There are many other forms out there, and there are also subdivisions of the aforementioned options that doctors may consider when aiming to test for cancer. This is one of the final steps before an actual diagnosis for a patient.


Bronchoscopy is a cancer biopsy specifically used to examine the lungs and airways. These are also known as the bronchi and bronchioles, which is where the terminology for the testing comes from. In a bronchoscopy, a doctor will insert a tube inside of the lungs. The camera inside this tube is known as a bronchoscope. It allows the doctor to see what is going on in the lungs to detect for the presence of potentially cancerous tumors.

Patients with breathing tubes do not need a secondary tube installed because they can use the existing ones for the bronchoscope. A doctor will insert the bronchoscope into the tube, and it has a little light on the end to shine into the airways and lungs in general. Your doctor can take pictures with the bronchoscope and see everything he or she needs to see in the body to detect a possible source of cancer.

Most tubes will be inserted into the nose, but some patients need a rigid tube for their conditions. This is inserted into the mouth, and it works well for patients with bleeding issues. This tube is wider than a standard tube, and it will allow the doctor to correct any problems that he sees while he is in there. From there he can gain the pictures and samples he needs to confirm a diagnosis.


Cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the human body. This growth cannot be controlled by the body alone, so doctors have to prescribe patients to go through different treatment options to see if they can regulate the spreading of cancer cells. There are many different types of cancer that impact different areas in the body. Lung cancer is the most widespread form of this disorder in the world, but breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, skin cancer, and colon cancer are all common as well.

Each form of cancer has different stages that a person can go through, usually numbered one through four. The lower the number, the better the cancer is. The bad part about this is that many people do not notice their symptoms until they are in stage three or four of their cancer development. That can make treatment difficult, especially because of low survival rates for higher level cancer stages.

Common treatments for cancer include chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Some forms of cancer can be isolated and successfully removed from the body with surgery, but others must be killed off with other treatments. Cancer patients often contract infections and illnesses more often than other people because their immune systems are weak and certain treatments make those immune systems even weaker. Nevertheless, there are thousands of people every year who survive their bouts with cancer, and science is only going to develop better treatments and potential cures in the future.


Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment that works to kills rapidly reproducing cancer cells in the body. The goal of chemotherapy is to stop the spreading of cancer cells so that other treatments can be effective. The problem is that it kills good cells as it kills bad cells. It can prevent bone marrow from being able to grow and normalize, and it can also impact the digestive tract. The most common complaint about chemotherapy though is its impact on hair follicles. It can lead to hair loss, but the hair does grow back once treatment is complete.

Chemotherapy can be used alongside other treatments, like surgery and radiation. The chemo contains the cancer cells, and then the surgery or radiation can target and kill them. There is still a chance of them returning, but many people have had great results from chemotherapy. It can make a person feel sick, weak, and incapable of functioning properly, but in the end it can allow the body to heal back to normal.

Most patients have to go through some trial and error with their chemotherapy treatments to see if they have the right dosing or not. The results of one chemo treatment will guide the procedure for the next one. Over time, the doctor can hopefully find a solution that works for you.

Chest X-Ray

A chest X-ray is an imaging test that doctors often use to look for possible occurrences of lung cancer and other cancers in the chest. It provides an image of the lungs, diaphragm, heart, large arteries, and ribs. Any unusual masses in a chest X ray will offer insight into the possible presence of a tumor, and then doctors can investigate further to determine whether the mass is in fact a source of cancer. This is one of the first tests that a person will go through when he or she is trying to find out if cancer is a possibility.

For the most part, you will need to wear a hospital gown for a chest x ray. You will also need to remove all jewelry that may interrupt the results. You may have to go through multiple X rays for your cancer testing, but some people only need one good one from the front and one good one from the back. The radiology department of a hospital will be there to take care of this for you.

There is no pain as a result of a chest X-ray. Patients often have to lie on a cold, hard surface to get the images, but there is no discomfort overall. As long as a doctor can get the angle he or she needs for the images, he or she can conduct an initial diagnosis for cancer and other problems.

Computed Tomography Scan (CAT or CT scan)

A CT scan is an advanced version of an X-ray, and it uses multiple X-rays to produce a detailed view of certain body structures. It can be used to look at almost any part of the body, including the chest, legs, back, head, and more. It is most often used to detect problems in the body, like tumors that may have developed or blockages that need to be fixed.

Many doctors will use an iodine dye to illuminate structures in the body and make them easier to see on the CT scan. This can help the doctors view blood flow or certain organs in the body they may be looking for. All patients are inserted into a ring-like machine that is called a CT scanner. That device takes rapid sets of images that progress inside of the body and provide a look at thin layers of various organs and body parts. This allows doctors to look for abnormalities in the body that could be signs of a serious condition.

CT scans can show possible indications of lung cancer if they are able to target the chest area of the body. These will lead to further testing to officially diagnose the problem as lung cancer. The tests can confirm the presence of cancer in the body.

Five Year Survival Rate

The five year survival rate is the expected rate of people who will survive from a disease after five years. This can be used in almost any medical situation, but it is mostly used to refer to the prognosis for cancer patients. The results of a five year survival rate can vary based on a number of different factors, but it can help patients learn what they may be able to expect with their future in their treatments.

Many rate determining companies will divvy up the results of the five ear survival rate into different genders, cancers locations, races, and more. That gives people a chance to find the most specific data they can for the likelihood of their survival. This data may not be a true reflection of what will happen, but it can be a good indication of the possibilities.

A five year survival rate is calculated every year for every disease like lung cancer because it shares insight based on the most recent data possible. If you get that information ever year, you could be encouraged about your prognosis. You cannot let a negative prognosis get you down though. There is always a chance that you can beat the statistics.

Large Cell Carcinoma

Large cell carcinoma is a form of non-small cell lung cancer, otherwise known as NSCLC. Four out of five people diagnosed with lung cancer are usually told that they have non-small cell lung cancer, and of those people, 10% have large cell carcinoma. This condition is characterized by the presence of large cells in lung cancer tumors, even though the tumors themselves are often small in size. Large cell cancers tend to form on the outside of the lung, and they may grow more rapidly than other forms of NSCLC.

The most common signs of large cell carcinoma are chronic coughing or coughing up blood. It is also possible for a patient to experience difficulty breathing and chest pains with the presence of this cancer. Patients are more likely to detect this form of lung cancer than others because of the way it spreads, but many of them experience no symptoms at all until the later stages of lung cancer.

Like any other form of cancer, this condition can be diagnosed within stages one through four, with four being the most progressed stage of cancer that a person can experience. Unfortunately, that is the most common stage for people to be diagnosed with because of lacking symptoms early on. Early cancer screenings can help catch large cell carcinoma before it reaches that level.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is, quite simply, cancer that develops in the lungs. Cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the body, and in this case, those cells originate somewhere in the lungs. They can grow and form in other places within the body, but they will still be considered part of lung cancer due to their origins. Some forms of lung cancer will spread more rapidly than others, but all of them can be deadly without treatment.

Lung cancer is most common in patients who smoke cigarettes. This is because cigarette smoking greatly increases a person’s risk of cancer development. A history of lung cancer in one’s family may also increase the risk for lung cancer, as can the exposure to asbestos, air pollution, arsenic, and cancer causing chemicals.

There are four stages of lung cancer that a person can be diagnosed with, and most people do not notice symptoms of the condition until the final stages. Symptoms may range from weakness to chest pains, but most people will experience chronic coughing or difficulty breathing. A series of chest scans and biopsies may be needed to confirm the presence of cancer in the body, and early screening is the easiest way to find a problem and correct it before it gets worse. Radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery may all be used to treat lung cancer.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a form of radiology that can produce detailed images inside of the human body. These images allow doctors to see tumors and abnormalities without actually having to go into the body. An MRI can produce many different images of the muscles, bones, and tissues in the body, and it is great for diagnosing problems and their locations.

An image from an MRI is much more detailed than a standard X-ray would be. Patients may go through a closed MRI, which involves a tube that the body will be passed through for examination. There is now the possibility of an open MRI though which takes the same technology but removes the need for the tight tube. This is perfect for patients with claustrophobia who may not be comfortable in a tunnel.

An MRI uses magnetic charges to gather images of cells and the structures they make up. An MRI scan may be more costly than a standard X-ray, but it can give a better view of whatever the problem may be at the time. This aids in the discovery of cancer and other conditions that may not be detected without some kind of imaging technology. Doctors may use this as a precursor for other tests in the future.


Malignant is a term used to define certain forms of cancer that can spread in the body. This is in contrast to benign tumors, which have a barrier blocking them from spreading throughout the body. Malignant forms of cancers can be fatal without treatment, and even with treatment it can be hard for doctors to contain the problem. There is no cure for cancer at this time, so there is no way of permanently preventing malignant cancers from growing.

Most malignant cancers are fatal, although there are survivors who are able to go through enough treatment to sustain their cancer. Treatments can range from chemotherapy to surgery or radiation treatments. The success of these treatments will greatly be based on the stage of cancer a person is in. Progressed stages, like stage three or stage four, have a mass spreading of cancer and can be much harder to control than stage one or stage two cancers.

It is possible for a benign tumor to turn malignant, and there are actually some forms of tumors that are known to do that. This is why cancer patients must go through regular testing to monitor the status of their cancer. Proper control of malignant tumors can lead to remission if the body is willing to accept treatment.


The term metastasize refers to the spreading of disease from one organ to another within the body. This is often used to describe forms of cancer, where cancer cells originate in one location and move to another, nonadjacent part of the body. Metastasis often happens in the later stages of cancer when the cancer is more likely to spread throughout the body. Most early stages of cancer will only be characterized by one or two tumors, but later stages could have many metastasized all throughout the body.

Metastasis most often happens with a malignant tumor. This is a tumor that has the ability to grow and spread in the body. As the new tumors form from this, they are known as secondary tumors. They are still considered part of the cancer where they originated, but they may form in other locations as metastatic tumors.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)

Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common form of lung cancer at present. It makes up close to 80% of all lung cancer diagnoses. Small cell lung cancer is usually described by its rapid growth in the body. Some forms of NSCLC grow more quickly than others, but they are all slower to spread than SCLC. It is easier to treat NSCLC as a result of that, but there is still no cure for either form of cancer at present.

There are three major forms of NSCLC: squamous cell carcinomas, adenocarcinomas, and large cell carcinomas. Large cell conditions are more rapid in growth than the other forms, but they can all prove fatal if they go untreated. Treatments for NSCLC range from simple radiation to chemotherapy and surgery. A doctor will determine the right option based on the condition of the patient and the overall spreading of cancer in the body. The earlier that a case of cancer can be treated, the better the chance for survival.


Oncology is the branch of medicine that deals with cancer. An oncologist is a doctor that specializes in cancer diagnoses and treatments. Any patient that must go through cancer testing or treatment will experience some form of oncology. There are subdivisions of oncology based on the types of patients a doctor may have. Pediatric oncology, for instance, would be the study and treatment of cancer in children.

Oncology involves efforts to screen for cancer, which may include X-rays, MRI scans, PET scans, CT scans, and more. All of these tests provide the preliminary look into the body that an oncologist needs to request further testing. The oncologist may then request a biopsy for the condition, where he or she will take a sample of the tumor and examine it for the presence of cancer cells. From there the doctor can determine what stage of cancer the patient is going through and what treatments he or she may want to seek out.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan

A PET scan is used as a way to detect the presence of disease in the body, like cancer. A PET scan works by injecting radioactive chemicals into the body that are harmless in small doses. The chemicals will gather in areas with high levels of chemical activity, which will show up as bright spots on the scan. This allows doctors to target possible zones for cancer and ultimately figure out where they need to go for sampling.

Different types of radioactive materials are used for different forms of cancer. All of these are precisely calculated to determine the best possible results for a cancer test. A PET scan cannot distinguish between a cancerous tumor and a non cancerous tumor, so doctors must follow up this test with a biopsy of the tumor to see if it has cancer in it or not. A sample of the tumor is taken from the body and analyzed under a microscope to confirm a diagnosis.

PET scans are more precise than X-rays, even if they cost more to get. These act as some of the most reliable ways to test for cancer to date, and they are likely to be in the medical community for years in the future.


Pneumonectomy is a medical procedure in which a doctor will remove a lung from the body. This is usually because the lung has the presence of cancer that cannot be removed through any other means. If cancer cells spread too far over a lung, the lung can actually become inoperable. Doctors can remove the lung and allow the body to function with one lung to prevent the cancer from spreading any further.

Pneumonectomy is usually seen as a last resort for cancer treatments. Doctors will try chemotherapy and radiation treatments before they will actually go through a surgery to remove the lung. Pneumonectomy is not considered a cure for cancer because there is still a chance that it can form in another part of the body. This is purely meant to give patients the best possible chance for survival.


A prognosis is the expected path that a disease or illness will take. In terms of cancer, it is the overall outlook that a person has for survival and improvement. This is purely an assumption as to what will happen. There are no guarantees that the outcome of cancer will follow the prognosis. Doctors simply have to do their best to look over a person’s condition and indicators for the future so they can develop a somewhat accurate prediction.

While data, testing, and certain procedures can aid in developing a prognosis, a doctor often has to rely on his or her experiences to guide the prognosis. He or she will have experience working with cancer patients and will likely know a path that a patient’s cancer will take. There are instances where the doctor’s experience greatly contrasts what actually happens, but that cannot be determined until the cancer proceeds.

Developing a prognosis is difficult, but experienced doctors can usually pinpoint how cancer is likely to grow in the body. It may grow faster or slower, but only time will tell that for sure. Doctors must relay information about a detailed prognosis to patients in a concise and simple manner, which can be challenging. Nevertheless, that gets everyone on the same page about the cancer in the end.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high energy levels of radiation to target tumors and shrink them in size. This treatment may also be used to kill cancer cells in the body and stop them from reproducing. The radiation can go into the cancer cells and destroy their DNA, causing them to die quickly and effectively. The only problem is that doctors often have trouble targeting all of the cancer cells they need to, which is why the cancer may come back.

Approximately half of all cancer patients go through radiation therapy at some point in their treatment. Other treatments may include chemotherapy or surgery, which can be used in combination with radiation. Radiation is administered outside of the body, and then it penetrates directly to the tumor or cancerous area at hand. There is also a chance for radioactive chemicals to be inserted near the cancer cells to work internally. Treatments vary from patient to patient.

There are side effects from radiation that patients have to consider before going through with this treatment. The process may not work solely on cancer cells. It can damage normal cells as well. Nevertheless, radiation can act as a cure for some patients with cancer symptoms.


Remission is the term used to describe the time period when a cancer patient has no signs of cancerous activity in the body. It can be used for other chronic illnesses, but most people associate remission with cancer. A patient can go into remission without being cured of a disease or infection. The problem becomes dormant at some point, but it can come back. That is why patients in remission still have to get tested for their problems on a regular basis to see if there is a chance for redevelopment.

There are different types of remission that a patient may go into. Full remission occurs when there is no sign of cancer whatsoever in the body. This is also known as a complete remission. Partial remission occurs when the amount of cancer in the body has been reduced by 50% or more. This can be determined through radiology exams, physical exams, and blood or urine testing. Any situation where a patient sees a significant reduction in the amount of cancer in the body may be deemed remission.

Remission only refers in situations where the disease present is incurable, like with cancer. It may also be used to discuss inflammatory bowel disease and other medical conditions. Patients must go through testing in a doctor’s office to see if the remission remains permanent.

Secondary Lung Cancer

Secondary lung cancer is a form of cancer that does not start in the lungs. It develops in other parts of the body, and then it spreads to the lungs in the later stages of other cancers. Most types of cancer are defined by their original location, so this would not be called “lung cancer.” It may be breast cancer, colon cancer, or any other form of cancer that has just metastasized in the lungs.

For the most part, secondary lung cancer will be the result of a wide spreading of another form of cancer, but it can happen in the early stages of the cancer and not spread any further. Patients who develop this form of cancer have a 30-40% five year survival rate after they undergo surgery to remove the cancer from the body.

Common symptoms of secondary lung cancer include coughing up blood, wheezing, shortness of breath, or persistent coughing that was not there before. Early screening tests can help identify if these symptoms are indications of secondary cancer in the lungs.

Patients who are diagnosed with secondary lung cancer often find out about their condition after a full body screening that is meant to find lingering tumors in the body. PET scans and CAT scans can lead a doctor to discovering secondary cancer in the lungs, and then he or she can go about find a treatment solution for the problem.

Small Cell Lung Cancer

Small cell lung cancer is form of lung cancer that only impacts one out of every five patients. It is more rapid than non-small cell lung cancer, and it can be harder to treat as a result. Patients with SCLC will develop symptoms earlier than other patients in most cases because of the way the condition spreads in the body. Men are slightly more likely to develop SCLC than women, but this condition can impact anyone.

SCLC is most commonly caused by some form of cigarette smoking. Rarely will a person be diagnosed with small cell lung cancer when he or she does not smoke cigarettes. Most cases of small cell lung cancer will start within the breathing tubes in the center of the chest. The small cells present in this form of cancer will spread quickly, and they can create large tumors on the lungs. Those cells can then travel to other areas of the body to develop tumors, like the brain, bones, and liver.

Signs of small cell lung cancer may not appear any different than non-small cell lung cancer symptoms. This may include coughing, loss of appetite, chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, and weight loss. Patients should get tested for lung cancer on a regular basis in case these symptoms never come about. That will allow the cancer to be properly diagnosed.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is most often linked to skin cancer, but it is also a form of non-small cell lung cancer. About 30% of patients with NSCLC are diagnosed with this condition, and those patients make up about 80% of lung cancer patients as a whole. Squamous cell cancers typically start in the central airways of the lung, also known as bronchial tubes. It can then metastasize to other parts of the lung as the cancer cells begin to reproduce.

While squamous cell carcinoma used to be the most recognized form of cancer out there, filtered cigarettes have changed that statistic. The filtered cigarettes are able to penetrate into the lung past the bronchial tubes. This can lead to other forms of NSCLC. Doctors can diagnose the cancer after they run samples of potential tumors through cancer screenings and examinations. From there they can tell if a patient has squamous cell carcinoma or not.

Symptoms of this cancer may be similar to symptoms from other forms of cancer, like weakness, fatigue, and unexpected weight loss. They can also involve difficulty breathing, chest pain, coughing blood, and more. Patients are encouraged to get screened for lung cancer on a regular basis to determine if they have this problem or not.


A tumor is a mass inside of the body that could contain cancer. It is the result of an abnormal growth of tissue in the body, which can be cancerous or noncancerous. The issues can block the body from working properly, but removing them can help to get the body working again. The removal process will just have to depend on where the tumor is and what size it is at the time.

A tumor can form anywhere in the body under just about any circumstance. Most commonly, a tumor will be found attached to an organ in the body, like the lungs or the colon. Tumors can be viewed through many imaging tests in the medical world, such as X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, and PET scans. These are used to analyze the body and check for abnormalities, and cancers can certainly be deemed abnormalities.

Tumors can grow rapidly in the body if they are malignant. The cells within them will divide and spawn into new growths, which is why it is so easy for cancer to spread throughout the body. If a tumor is detected and tested early on in the development of cancer, it can potentially be treated and removed. There is a chance of another tumor growing in its place, but treatment can help to prevent that.

Comments are closed.