Glossary (What does that word mean?)

abdomen - the part of the body between the chest and hips, which contains the stomach, liver, intestines, bladder and kidneys.

adenocarcinoma - a type of lung cancer that starts in the bronchial glands, which are found in the mucous membrane lining the airways.

allergic - an abnormal reaction to a substance, medication or a food.

alveoli - the tiny air sacs in the lungs: an adult has about 300 million. When air is breathed in, it goes through the airways to the alveoli where oxygen is taken from them into the bloodstream.

benign - a tumour that is not malignant, not cancerous and won't spread to another part of your body.

biopsy - the removal of a small sample of tissue from the body for examination under a microscope to help diagnose a disease.

bronchi/bronchioles - bronchi are the larger tubes that carry air in the lungs. Bronchioles are the tiny tubes that carry air to the outer parts of the lungs.

bronchoscopy - an examination in which a tube is passed through the nose or the mouth into the lungs so that they can be examined for disease and some tissue sampled, if necessary.

carcinoma - a cancer that begins in the tissue that lines the skin and internal organs of the body.

cells - the "building blocks" of the body. A human is made of millions of cells, which are adapted for different functions. Cells are able to reproduce themselves exactly, unless they are abnormal or damaged, as are cancer cells.

chemotherapy - the use of special (cytotoxic) drugs to treat cancer by killing cancer cells or slowing their growth.

computerised tomography (CT) scan - once known as a CAT scan. A series of X-rays that are built up to give a picture of the part X-rayed.

diaphragm - a dome-like sheet of muscle that divides the chest cavity from the abdomen.

genes - the codes contained in DNA in each cell that control the way the body's cells grow and behave. Each person has a set of many thousands of genes inherited from both parents. Genes are found in every cell of the body.

large cell carcinoma - a type of lung cancer that usually develops in the airways and is characterised by large rounded cells.

lobectomy - a surgical operation to remove a lobe of a lung.

lobes - the sections that make up the lungs. The left lung has two lobes and the right lung has three.

lungs - the two spongy organs within the chest cavity made up of very large numbers of tiny air sacs.

lymph glands or nodes - are small, round lumps of special cells scattered along the lymphatic system. The lymph nodes process lymph fluid as part of the immune system trying to protect against bacteria and other harmful agents, such as cancer cells. There are lymph nodes in your chest, abdomen, neck, armpit and groin. Lymph nodes are often the first place cancers spread to and grow in.

malignant - a tumour that is cancerous and likely to spread.

mediastinum - the area in the chest cavity between the lungs. It contains the heart and large blood vessels, the oesophagus, the trachea and many lymph nodes.

mesothelioma - a rare cancer of the membranes around the lungs. Exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma.

metastasis (plural = metastases) - when a cancer has spread from the original site to another part of the body. It can also be called a "secondary cancer".

MRI - a scan that uses magnetic resonance to find abnormalities particularly in the brain and other parts of the body. It is not used much to look at lungs.

non-small cell lung cancer - one of the two main groups of lung cancers. This group includes squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma.

palliative care - treatment aimed at providing relief for symptoms without attempting to cure the disease.

PCI (prophylactic cranial irradiation) - radiation treatment to the whole brain used to minimise the risk of a tumour growing there in patients with small cell lung cancer.

pleura - membranes that line the chest wall and cover the lungs.

pleural cavity - a space, normally empty, that lies between the two layers of the pleura.

pneumonectomy - a surgical operation to remove a whole lung.

positron emission tomography (PET) scan - a technique that is used to build up 3D (three dimensional) images of the body.

primary cancer - the original cancer. At some stage, cells from the primary cancer may break away and be carried to other parts of the body where secondary cancers (metastases) may form.

prognosis - an assessment of the course and likely outcome of a person's disease.

radiation treatment - the use of radiation, usually X-rays, to kill cancer cells or injure them so that they cannot grow and multiply. Radiation treatment can also harm normal cells, but they are better able to repair themselves.

screening programme - is where well, healthy people are invited to undergo some kind of test that will identify those people who may have, or may be at risk of developing, a specific disease.

small cell lung cancer - a type of lung cancer which grows rapidly and spreads early and causes few initial symptoms.

sputum - liquid coughed up from the lungs which is also known as phlegm.

sputum cytology test - examination of sputum under a microscope to look for cancer cells.

squamous cell carcinoma - one of the non-small cell types of lung cancer. It has the same name as a common skin cancer but behaves differently.

staging - investigations to find out how far a cancer has progressed. This is important in planning the best treatment.

thoracentesis - a medical procedure to draw fluid or air from the chest using a hollow needle.

trachea (windpipe) - the pipe through which air passes to reach the lungs. The trachea starts in the neck, immediately below the voice box (larynx), and descends a few centimetres into the chest before branching to form the two bronchi, one of which goes into each lung.

tumour - a new or abnormal growth of tissue on or in the body.