Glossary

Acquired resistance
Disease progression after initial benefit with a targeted therapy
Activating mutation
A type of mutation that occurs when there is an overexpression, or too much, of the protein a gene makes. This overly active protein leads to uncontrolled cell growth.
Adaptive response
Specific response of the immune system; creates T cells to respond to a specific antigen on a cancer cell
Adenocarcinoma
A type of non-small cell lung cancer that usually develops in the cells lining the lungs. It is the most common type of lung cancer seen in non-smokers
Adenoids
A mass of lymphatic tissue located where the nose blends into the throat
Adenosquamous carcinoma
A type of cancer that contains two types of cells: squamous cells (thin, flat cells that line certain organs) and gland-like cells
Adjuvant
Cancer treatment given after the primary treatment in order to kill unseen cancer cells or to lower the risk that the cancer will come back. Adjuvant therapy may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or biological therapy.
Adoptive T cell transfer
Therapy that involves removing some of a patient's own immune-system cells—often altering and increasing their ability to recognize and kill cancer cells—growing billions of them in the laboratory and infusing the cultured cells into the patient. The idea is to provide an invading force of immune cells that can attack tumors at a level that the immune system is not capable of doing on its own. Also called "adoptive T cell therapy"
Advanced-stage non-small cell lung cancer
Refers to NSCLC that has spread either locally or to distant parts of the body
Aldesleukin
A growth factor for T cells that is used to treat some types of cancer. It is a form of interleukin-2 , a cytokine made by leukocytes (white blood cells) that is made in the laboratory. Aldesleukin increases the activity and growth of T lymphocytes.
ALK
See Anaplastic lymphoma kinase
ALK rearrangement
Fusion of the ALK gene with another gene, producing an abnormal protein that leads to cancer cell growth
Alveoli
Tiny air sacs at the end of the bronchioles (tiny branches of air tubes) in the lungs. The alveoli are where the lungs and the bloodstream exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen. Carbon dioxide in the blood passes into the lungs through the alveoli. Oxygen in the lungs passes through the alveoli into the blood.
Amplification
A usually massive replication of genetic material, especially of a gene or DNA sequence
Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)
A gene that the body normally produces but, when it fuses with another gene, produces an abnormal protein that leads to cancer cell growth
Anemia
A condition in which the number of red blood cells is below normal, resulting in pallor and fatigue
Angiogenesis
The formation of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow. This process is caused by the release of chemicals by the tumor and by host cells near the tumor.
Angiogenesis inhibitors
Drugs given during cancer treatment to prevent the growth of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow. Also called "antiangiogenesis agents" or "antiangiogenesis drugs"
Antibody
A protein made by B cells in response to an antigen. Each antibody can bind to only one specific antigen. The purpose of this binding is to help destroy the antigen. Some antibodies destroy antigens directly. Others make it easier for white blood cells to destroy the antigen.
Antigen
A protein on the surface of a cell that causes the body to make a specific immune response
Arthritis
A disease that causes inflammation and pain in the joints
Asbestos
A group of minerals that take the form of tiny fibers. Asbestos has been used as insulation against heat and fire in buildings. Loose asbestos fibers breathed into the lungs can cause several serious diseases, including lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma (cancer found in the lining of lungs, chest, or abdomen)
Autoimmune disorder
A condition in which the body recognizes its own tissues as foreign and directs an immune response against them

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Bacteria
A large group of single-cell microorganisms. Some cause infections and disease in animals and humans.
B cell, B lymphocyte
A type of white blood cell that circulates in the blood and lymph seeking out foreign invaders. Upon meeting a “non-self” antigen, it makes proteins called antibodies, which detect and destroy the antigens.
Benign
Not cancerous
Biological therapy
A type of treatment that uses substances made from living organisms to treat disease. These substances may occur naturally in the body or may be made in the laboratory. Some biological therapies stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection, and other diseases. Other biological therapies attack specific cancer cells, which may help keep them from growing or kill them.
Biomarker
A biological molecule found in blood, other body fluids, or tissues that is a sign of a normal or abnormal process, or of a condition or disease. A biomarker can be a change in DNA (mutation), RNA, or protein. A biomarker may be used to 1) detect a disease, 2) decide on a course of treatment, or 3) determine how well the body responds to a treatment of a disease or condition. Sometimes, a biomarker may perform more than one of these functions.
Biomarker profile
The DNA characteristics, as well as any other unique biomarkers, found in a person’s cancer. The information is used to identify and create targeted therapies that are designed to work for a specific cancer tumor profile.
Biomarker testing (mutation, genetic, or molecular testing)
Testing for any unique changes to the DNA or other biomarkers found in a person’s cancer. The information is used to identify and create targeted therapies that are designed to work for a specific cancer tumor profile.
Biopsy
The removal of cells or tissues for examination by a pathologist. The pathologist may study the tissue under a microscope or perform other tests on the cells or tissue.
Blood chemistry tests
A common panel of blood tests that measures the amounts of electrolytes and other chemicals made in the body. It provides information on how the body’s organs, such as kidneys, liver, and heart, are functioning
Blood count
See Complete blood count
Bone marrow
The soft, sponge-like tissue in the center of most bones. It produces white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets
Bone scan
A scan that checks for abnormal areas or damage in the bones. A very small amount of radioactive material is injected into a vein and travels through the blood. The radioactive material collects in the bones and is detected by a special camera that takes pictures of the inside of the body. A bone scan may be used to diagnose bone tumors or cancer that has spread to the bone.
Brachytherapy
A type of radiation therapy in which radioactive material sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters is placed directly into or near a tumor. Also called "internal radiation therapy" and "radiation brachytherapy"
BRAF
Part of the RAS/MAPK pathway that regulates the growth and division (proliferation) of cells. The BRAF gene is mutated in a small percentage of NSCLC. This is an actionable mutation
Bronchi
The large air passages that lead from the trachea (windpipe) to the lungs
Bronchiole
A tiny branch of air tubes in the lungs that narrow down from the bronchus and connect to the alveoli (air sacs)
Bronchitis
Inflammation and irritation of the bronchi, the tubes that carry air to the lungs; symptoms include cough and fatigue
Bronchoscopy
A procedure that uses a bronchoscope to examine the inside of the trachea, bronchi, and lungs. A bronchoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue; this tissue can then be checked under a microscope for signs of disease. The bronchoscope is inserted through the nose or mouth.
Bronchus
A large airway that leads from the trachea (windpipe) to  a lung. The plural of bronchus is bronchi.
Bulky disease
A term for a cancer with a considerable tumor burden—‘bulk’; these large tumors are usually more resistant to conventional treatment. Therefore, a major priority in oncology is to debulk a tumor to make chemotherapy or radiation therapy as effective as possible

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Cancer
A term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade nearby tissues. Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.
Carcinoid tumor
A slow-growing type of tumor usually found in the gastrointestinal system (most often in the appendix), and sometimes in the lungs or other sites
Carcinogen
Any substance that causes cancer
Carcinoma
Cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs
CAT scan
See CT scan
Cavity
A hollow area or hole. It may describe a body cavity (such as the space within the abdomen or chest) or a hole in a tooth caused by decay
CBC
See Complete blood count
CD47
A protein found on the surface of SCLC cells that stop a type of immune cells called macrophages from eating the cancer cell.
Cerebrospinal fluid
The fluid that flows in and around the hollow spaces of the brain and spinal cord, and between two of the meninges (the thin layers of tissue that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord)
Cervical lymph nodes
Lymph nodes found in the neck
Chemoprevention
The use of drugs, vitamins, or other agents to try to reduce the risk of, or delay the development or recurrence of, cancer
Chemoradiation
Treatment that combines chemotherapy with radiation therapy. Also called "chemoradiotherapy"
Chemotherapy
Treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells
Chest X-ray
A type of high-energy radiation that can go through the body and onto film, making pictures of areas inside the chest, which can be used to diagnose disease
Circulating tumor cells
Cancer cells that are released from the tumor and enter the bloodstream
Circulating tumor DNA
DNA from tumor cells found in the bloodstream. The DNA originates from cancer cells
Clinical trial
A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of a disease. Also called "clinical research trial" or "clinical research study"
c-MET
A gene that is mutated in a small percentage of NSCLC. The c-MET protein is found on the surface of cells. This is an actionable mutation
Colitis
An illness that causes pain and swelling in the colon
Colony-stimulating factors
Drugs that assist the bone marrow in producing different types of white blood cells. They are given to help support white blood cell levels and strengthen the immune system after chemotherapy. Colony-stimulating factors include granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF).
Combination therapy
The use of two or more types of treatments at the same time to treat a disease or condition; most often refers to two or more drugs used together
Complementary therapies
Treatments that are used along with standard treatments, but are not considered standard. Standard treatments are based on the results of scientific research and are currently accepted and widely used. Less research has been done for most types of complementary medicine. Complementary medicine includes acupuncture, dietary supplements, massage therapy, hypnosis, and meditation. For example, acupuncture may be used with certain drugs to help lessen cancer pain or nausea and vomiting.
Complete blood count
A measure of the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in the blood. A complete blood count is used to help diagnose and monitor many conditions. Also called "blood cell count" and "CBC"
Complete response
The disappearance of all signs of cancer in response to treatment. This does not always mean the cancer has been cured. Also called "complete remission"
Computed tomography
See CT scan
Concurrent
At the same time
Contrast
A dye or other substance that helps show abnormal areas inside the body. It is given by injection into a vein, by enema, or by mouth. Contrast material may be used with x-rays, CT scans, MRI, or other imaging tests.
Control group
In a clinical trial, the group that does not receive the new treatment being studied. This group is compared to the group that receives the new treatment, to see if the new treatment works
Core biopsy
The removal of a tissue sample with a wide needle for examination under a microscope. Also called "core needle biopsy"
CT scan
A procedure that uses a computer linked to an X-ray machine to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are taken from different angles and are used to create three-dimensional (3-D) views of tissues and organs. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the tissues and organs show up more clearly. Also called "CAT scan" and "computed tomography scan"
Curative treatment
Treatment that is meant to cure the disease itself as opposed to masking the symptoms; in the case of lung cancer, killing or removing all lung cancer cells
Cytokine
A type of protein that is made by certain immune and non-immune cells and has an effect on the immune system. Some cytokines stimulate the immune system, and others slow it down.

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Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB)
An impartial group that oversees a clinical trial and reviews the results to see if they are acceptable. This group determines if the trial should be changed or closed
Disease-free survival (DFS)
The length of time that the patient survives without any signs or symptoms of that cancer, after primary treatment for a cancer ends. In a clinical trial, measuring the effect on disease-free survival is one way to see how well a new treatment works.
Disease progression
Continued growth or spread of cancer
DNA
The molecules inside cells that carry genetic information and pass it from one generation to the next. Also called "deoxyribonucleic acid"
Driver mutation
A change to the DNA of cancerous cells that is considered to have been a cause of the development of the cancer and has helped the cancer cell to grow. Different from a passenger mutation
Dyspnea
Difficult, painful breathing or shortness of breath

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Early detection
The process of detecting lung cancer before it has progressed into full-blown disease
Echinoderm microtubule-associated protein like 4 (EML4)
A gene that, when combined with the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene, produces an abnormal protein that leads to cancer cell growth
Efficacy
The ability of an intervention (for example, a drug or surgery) to produce the desired beneficial effect
EGFR
See Epidermal growth factor receptor
EGFR mutation
A change in the gene that controls production of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), resulting in overexpression of EGFR
Elevated transaminases
Higher than normal levels of enzymes found in the liver that may indicate liver disease
Endocrine gland
A gland (for example, the thyroid or the pituitary) that produces an endocrine secretion
Endoscope
A thin, tube-like instrument used to look at tissues inside the body. An endoscope has a light and a lens for viewing, and may have a tool to remove tissue.
Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS)
See Secondhand smoke
Enzyme
Special proteins that the body produces to control its cells and carry out chemical reactions quickly. Sometimes enzymes signal cancer cells to grow.
Enzyme inhibitors
A type of targeted cancer therapy that works by blocking the signals an enzyme sends cancer cells to grow
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)
The protein found on the surface of some cells and to which epidermal growth factor binds, causing the cells to divide. It is found at abnormally high levels on the surface of many types of cancer cells, so these cells may divide excessively in the presence of epidermal growth factor.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors
Drugs that blocks the activity of a protein called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Blocking EGFR may keep cancer cells from growing. Also called "EGFR inhibitor" and "epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor"
Epidermoid carcinoma
Cancer that begins in squamous cells. Also called squamous cell carcinoma. When it starts in the lungs, it is considered a type of non-small cell lung cancer
Epithelial cells
The cells that line the internal and external surfaces of the body. In the lungs, they line the airways and make mucus to lubricate and protect the lungs
Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents
Drugs that stimulate the bone marrow to produce red blood cells; approved for the treatment of anemia due to chemotherapy, chronic kidney failure, and for reducing the number of blood transfusions during and after certain major surgeries. Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents include Procrit, Epogen, and Aranesp.
Event-free survival (EFS)
In cancer, the length of time after primary treatment for a cancer ends that the patient remains free of certain complications or events that the treatment was intended to prevent or delay. These events may include the return of the cancer or the onset of certain symptoms, such as bone pain from cancer that has spread to the bone. In a clinical trial, measuring the effect on event-free survival is one way to see how well a new treatment works and how well a patient can tolerate the side effects.
Extensive-stage small cell lung cancer
Cancer that has spread widely throughout a lung, to the other lung, to lymph nodes on the other side of the chest, or to distant organs. Many doctors also call cancer that has spread to the fluid around the lung "extensive stage."
External beam radiation therapy (EBRT)
A type of radiation therapy that uses a machine to aim high-energy rays at the cancer from outside of the body

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Febrile neutropenia
A condition marked by fever and a lower-than-normal number of neutrophils in the blood. A neutrophil is a type of white blood cell that helps fight infection. Having too few neutrophils increases the risk of infection.
Fine needle aspiration (FNA)
The removal of tissue or fluid with a thin needle for examination under a microscope, usually to determine if cancer is present or what the cancer cell type is
First-line clinical trial
A clinical trial for a patient who has never been treated before
First-line treatment or therapy
The first treatment given for a disease. It is often part of a standard set of treatments, such as surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation. When used by itself, first-line therapy is the one accepted as the best treatment. If it doesn’t cure the disease or it causes severe side effects, other treatment may be added or used instead.
Floater
A bit of optical debris (as a dead cell or cell fragment) in the vitreous body or lens of the eye that may be perceived as a spot before the eye
Fluoroscope
An instrument equipped with a fluorescent screen on which the internal structures of the human body may be continuously viewed by means of X-ray. Often used by a surgeon to perform a transthoracic needle biopsy
Foreign
In medicine this term describes something that comes from outside the body. A foreign substance in the body’s tissues, such as a bacterium or virus, may be recognized by the immune system as not belonging to the body. This causes an immune response. Other foreign substances in the body, such as artificial joints, are designed to not cause an immune response.
Fusion
A gene made by joining parts of two different genes. Once fused together, they produce an abnormal protein that promotes abnormal, unchecked cell growth

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Gender effect
The difference in the biology of cancer between men and women, arising due to effects of estrogen, androgen, and other sex-specific hormones
General anesthesia
Medicine that puts the patient in a deep sleep
Genes
Coded instructions within a cell that control how the cell grows in a systematic and precise way

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Helical CT scan
A procedure that uses a computer linked to an X-ray machine to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. It continuously rotates in a spiral motion and takes several three-dimensional, very detailed X-rays of the lungs in a short amount of time. Also called "spiral CT scan"
Heat shock protein
A protein made in high levels by lung cancer cells. This protein protects lung cancer cells from dying after chemotherapy
Hedgehog signaling
A signaling pathway that is active in lung cancer and confers a growth advantage to cancer cells
Hepatitis
Disease of the liver causing inflammation. Symptoms include an enlarged liver, fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and dark urine
HER2
A gene that is mutated in NSCLC. Sometimes, lung cancer cells produce excess amounts of HER2 protein. The HER2 protein is found on the surface of lung cancer cells. This is an actionable mutation
Histology
The study of tissues and cells under a microscope
Hospice
A program that provides special care for people who are near the end of life and for their families, either at home, in freestanding facilities, or within hospitals

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IL-2
One of a group of related proteins made by leukocytes (white blood cells) and other cells in the body. IL-2 is made by a type of T lymphocyte. It increases the growth and activity of other T lymphocytes and B lymphocytes, and affects the development of the immune system.
Imaging test
Any test that uses a form of energy, such as X-rays, ultrasounds, radio waves, or radioactive substances, to make detailed pictures of areas inside the body. Imaging tests include CT scans, MRI scans, and nuclear medicine tests.
Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)
A procedure that uses a computer to create a picture of a tumor to help guide the radiation beam during radiation therapy. The pictures are made using CT, ultrasound, X-ray, or other imaging techniques. Image-guided radiation therapy makes radiation therapy more accurate and causes less damage to healthy tissue.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors
Agents that target the pathways tumor cells use to evade recognition and destruction by the immune system
Immune response
The activity of the immune system against foreign substances (antigens)
Immune system
A complex network of cells, tissues, organs, and the substances they make that helps the body fight infections and other diseases. The immune system includes white blood cells and organs and tissues of the lymph system, such as the thymus, spleen, tonsils, lymph nodes, lymph vessels, and bone marrow.
Immunocompromised
Having a weakened immune system caused by certain diseases or treatments
Immunotherapy
A type of cancer therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection, and other diseases. Some types of immunotherapy target only certain cells of the immune system. Others affect the immune system in a general way.
Incidental finding
A result that is not the primary aim of a test or procedure but is discovered in the process of seeking something else
Incision
A cut made in the body to perform surgery
Informed consent
A process in which patients are given important information, including possible risks and benefits, about a medical procedure or treatment, a clinical trial, or genetic testing. This is to help them decide if they want to be treated, tested, or take part in the trial. Patients are also given any new information that might affect their decision to continue. Also called consent process
Infusion
A method of putting fluids, including drugs, into the bloodstream. Also called intravenous infusion
Infusion site reaction
Skin reaction at the place where an intravenous catheter enters the skin; symptoms may include redness, itching, and pain
Inhibitor
Any substance that interferes with a chemical reaction, growth, or other biologic activity; for example, an EGFR inhibitor blocks the activity of epidermal growth factor receptors in promoting cancer growth
Innate immunity
Immune response to a pathogen that involves the pre-existing defenses of the body. Such a response is not specific to a pathogen.
In situ
In its original place. For example, in “carcinoma in situ,” abnormal cells are found only in the place where they first formed. They have not spread.
Institutional review board (IRB)
A group of scientists, doctors, clergy, and patient advocates that reviews and approves the detailed plan for every clinical trial. Institutional Review Boards are meant to protect the people who take part in a clinical trial. They check to see that the trial is well designed, legal, and ethical; does not involve unneeded risks; and includes a safety plan for patients. There is an Institutional Review Board at every health care facility that does clinical research
Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
A type of three-dimensional radiation therapy that uses computer-generated images to show the size and shape of the tumor. Thin beams of radiation of different intensities are aimed at the tumor from many angles. This type of radiation therapy reduces the damage to healthy tissue near the tumor.
Internal radiation therapy
See Brachytherapy
Interstitial lung disease
A group of disorders that cause scarring of the lungs, which eventually affects patients' ability to get enough oxygen into their bloodstream and to breathe
Interventional radiologist
A medical doctor who is specially trained to use minimally invasive image-guided procedures to diagnose and treat diseases, with the goal of minimizing risk to the patient and improving health outcomes
Intradermal
Within the skin; also called "intracutaneous"
Intramuscular (IM)
Within a muscle
Intravenous (IV)
Into or within a vein. Intravenous usually refers to a way of giving a drug or other substance through a needle or tube inserted into a vein. Also called IV
Investigational group
In a treatment clinical trial, the group that receives the new treatment being studied. This group is compared to the group that does not receive the new treatment, to see if the new treatment works
Irradiate
To treat with radiation

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KRAS
A gene that is commonly mutated in NSCLC. The KRAS gene is the most common mutation in NSCLC. This is not an actionable mutation

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Large cell carcinoma
Lung cancer in which the cells are large and look abnormal when viewed under a microscope
Lesion
An area of abnormal tissue, which may be benign or malignant
Leukapheresis
Removal of the blood to collect specific blood cells. The remaining blood is returned to the body.
Limited-stage small cell lung cancer
Cancer that is in the lung where it started and may have spread to the area between the lungs or to the lymph nodes above the collarbone
Lobe
A portion of an organ
Lobectomy
Surgery to remove a whole lobe of the lung
Locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer
NSCLC that has spread from where it started to nearby tissue or lymph nodes
Low-dose CT scan (LDCT)
A newer form of CT scan that uses less radiation than a standard chest CT and takes less than one minute to complete. It continuously rotates in a spiral motion and takes several three-dimensional, very detailed X-rays of the lungs. This type of CT uses no dyes and no injections, and requires nothing to swallow by mouth. Also known as "low-dose spiral [or helical] CT scan"
Lung cancer
Cancer that begins in tissues of the lung, usually in the cells lining air passages
Lymph
The clear fluid that travels through the lymphatic system and carries cells that help fight infections and other diseases. Also called lymphatic fluid
Lymph node, lymph gland
A rounded mass of lymphatic tissue surrounded by a capsule of connective tissue. Lymph nodes filter lymph, the clear fluid that carries cells to fight infections and other diseases, and store lymphocytes (white blood cells).
Lymphatic vessels
Thin-walled tubular structures that collect and filter lymph fluid before transporting it back to the blood circulation. Also called "lymph vessels"
Lymphocyte
A type of white blood cell that is made in the bone marrow and is found in the blood and in lymph tissue. The main types of lymphocytes are B cells, T cells, and NK cells

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Magnetic resonance imaging
See MRI scan
Malignant
Cancerous
Maintenance therapy
Treatment that is given to help keep cancer from growing after it has shrunk or stabilized following initial therapy. It may include treatment with drugs, vaccines, or antibodies that kill cancer cells, and it may be given for a long time.
Margin
The edge or border of the tissue removed in cancer surgery. The margin is described as “negative” or “clean” when the pathologist finds no cancer cells at the edge of the tissue, suggesting that all of the cancer has been removed. The margin is described as “positive” or “involved” when the pathologist finds cancer cells at the edge of the tissue, suggesting that not all of the cancer has been removed.
Mediastinal
Relating to the mediastinum (area between the lungs)
Mediastinoscopy
A procedure performed under general anesthesia to get a look at the area between the lungs, or mediastinum. A small incision is made above the breastbone, and a thin tube with a lens for viewing and a tool to remove tissue is inserted. The samples are sent to the lab to check for cancer cells.
Mediastinum
The space in the chest that is between the lungs. The organs in this area include the heart and its large blood vessels, the trachea, the esophagus, the thymus, and lymph nodes, but not the lungs.
MEK
Part of the RAS/MAPK pathway that regulates the growth and division (proliferation) of cells that is often active in lung cancer cells. The active form of the MEK protein provides a continuous "don't stop growing" signal
Melanoma
A form of cancer that begins in melanocytes (cells that make the pigment melanin). It may begin in a mole (skin melanoma), but can also begin in other pigmented tissues, such as the eye or the intestines.
Membrane
A very thin layer of tissue that covers a surface
Metastatic
Having to do with metastasis
Metastatic tumor
A tumor that has metastasized, or spread from the primary site, or place where it started, to other places in the body
Metastasis
The spread of cancer from the primary site, or place where it started, to other places in the body
Monoclonal antibody (MAb)
A type of protein made in the laboratory that can bind to substances in the body, including cancer cells. There are many kinds of monoclonal antibodies. A monoclonal antibody is made so that it binds to only one substance. Monoclonal antibodies are being used to treat some types of cancer. They can be used alone or to carry drugs, toxins, or radioactive substances directly to cancer cells.
Monotherapy
The use of a single drug to treat a particular disorder or disease
MRI scan
A scan that provides detailed pictures of areas inside the body by using radio waves and strong magnets that a computer translates into an image. MRI is especially useful for imaging the brain, the spine, the soft tissue of joints, and the inside of bones. Also called "magnetic resonance imaging"
mTOR
A protein that is often active in lung cancer cells. The active form of the mTOR protein provides a continuous "don't stop growing" signal
Mucin
A protein produced by some cancer cells, including adenocarcinoma
Multiplex testing
The testing for multiple mutations at one time
Mutation
Any change in the gene sequence of a cell. Mutations may be caused by mistakes during cell division, or they may be caused by exposure to gene-damaging agents in the environment. Certain mutations may lead to cancer or other diseases

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National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN)
A not-for-profit alliance of 25 of the world's leading cancer centers dedicated to improving the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of cancer care so that patients can live better lives. NCCN promotes the importance of continuous quality improvement and creates clinical practice guidelines appropriate for use by patients, clinicians, and other health care decision makers.
National Lung Screening Trial (NLST)
National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trial that found using a low-dose CT scan to screen for lung cancer can reduce mortality due to lung cancer
Natural killer (NK) cells
A type of white blood cell that patrols the body and is on constant alert, seeking foreign invaders. Once NK cells recognize a cell as abnormal, they release granules (small particles) with enzymes that can kill tumor cells or cells infected with a virus.
NED
Acronym for "no evidence of disease"
Neoadjuvant
Treatment given prior to the main treatment in order to shrink a tumor. Examples of neoadjuvant therapy include chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy prior to surgery.
Neoplasm
An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Neoplasms may be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). Also called "tumor"
Nephritis
Acute or chronic inflammation of the kidney caused by infection, degenerative process, or vascular disease
Neuropathy
A nerve problem that causes pain, numbness, tingling, swelling, or muscle weakness in different parts of the body. It usually begins in the hands or feet and gets worse over time. Neuropathy may be caused by cancer or cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy or surgery. May also be called "peripheral neuropathy"
Neutropenia
A condition in which there are fewer than normal neutrophils (a type of white blood cell), leading to increased susceptibility to infection
NFκB
A protein that is often active in lung cancer cells. The active form of the NFκB protein provides a continuous "don't stop growing" signal and protects cancer cells from getting killed by chemotherapy or radiotherapy
Nodule
A growth or lump that may be malignant (cancer) or benign
Non-contrast
Refers to an imaging test that does not make use of contrast agent. See Contrast.
Notch signaling
A signaling pathway that is active in lung cancer and confers a proliferative advantage to cancer cells
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
A group of lung cancers that are named for the kinds of cells found in the cancer and how the cells look under a microscope. The three main types of non-small cell lung cancer are squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common kind of lung cancer.
NSCLC
See Non-small cell lung cancer

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Oncologist
A doctor who specializes in treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer or cancer treatment. For example, a thoracic oncologist specializes in treating lung, esophageal, pleural, mediastinal, and chest wall tumors. A medical oncologist specializes in treating cancer with chemotherapy. A radiation oncologist specializes in treating cancer with radiation
Overall survival
The length of time from either the date of diagnosis or the start of treatment for a disease, such as cancer, that patients diagnosed with the disease are still alive. In a clinical trial, measuring the effect on overall survival is one way to see how well a new treatment works.
Overexpression
The expression of too many copies of a protein or other substance. Overexpression of certain proteins or other substances may play a role in cancer development.

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Palliative care
Care given to improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease. The goal is to provide patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness. Also called "palliation," "comfort care," and "supportive care"
Pancoast tumor
A type of lung cancer that begins in the upper part of a lung and spreads to nearby tissues such as the ribs and vertebrae. Most pancoast tumors are non-small cell cancers. Also called "pulmonary sulcus tumor"
PARP
A protein that protects cancer cells from chemotherapy drugs. PARP inhibitors for SCLC treatment are currently in clinical trial
Partial response
A decrease of at least 30% in the size of a tumor or in the extent of cancer in the body in response to treatment. Also called "partial remission"
Passenger mutation
An acquired change to the DNA that is present in cancer cells but is not considered to be a cause of the development of the cancer
Pathologist
A doctor who identifies diseases by studying cells and tissues under a microscope or with other equipment
Pathology report
The description of cells and tissues made by a pathologist based on what is seen under a microscope. This is sometimes used to make a diagnosis of lung cancer or another disease. May also be referred to in short form as “path report” or even “the path”
Patient navigator
Someone who provides personal guidance to patients as they move through the health care system. Patient navigators may have professional medical, legal, financial, or administrative experience. Other navigators may have personally faced health care-related challenges and want to help others in similar situations. Navigators can be employed by community groups, hospitals, or insurance companies. They may be paid by those organizations, they may be volunteers, or they may be independent consultants hired by people who want help managing their complex medical needs.
PD-1/PD-L1 (programmed death 1/programmed death ligand 1)
Part of the immune system mechanism that keeps T cells from functioning
Pelvic inflammatory disease
A condition in which the female reproductive organs are inflamed. It may affect the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and certain ligaments. Pelvic inflammatory disease is usually caused by a bacterial infection. It may cause infertility and an increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in the fallopian tubes). Also called "PID"
Perforation
A hole that develops through the whole wall of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large bowel, rectum, or gallbladder
Performance status
A measure of how well a patient is able to perform ordinary tasks and carry out daily activities
Peripheral neuropathy
See Neuropathy
Periphery
The outermost part or region within a precise boundary
PET-CT scan
A special scan that is able to do a positron emission tomography (PET) scan and a computed tomography (CT) scan at the same time. It allows the doctor to compare areas of radioactivity on the PET with the more detailed appearance of that area on the CT. Also called "positron emission tomography-computed tomography scan"
PET scan
A scan in which a small amount of radioactive sugar is injected into a vein and a special camera creates a picture of areas in the body where the sugar is taken up. Because cancer cells often take up more sugar than normal cells, the PET scan is used to find cancer cells in the body. Also called "positron emission tomography scan"
Phase 1 research study
A study in which researchers test a new drug or treatment in a small group of people for the first time to evaluate its safety, determine a safe dosage range, and identify side effects
Phase 2 research study
A study in which the drug or treatment is given to a larger group of people to see if it is effective and to further evaluate its safety
Phase 3 research study
A study in which the drug or treatment is given to large groups of people to confirm its effectiveness, monitor side effects, compare it to commonly used treatments, and collect information that will allow the drug or treatment to be used safely. Once phase 3 is completed, the drug or treatment can be submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
Treatment with drugs that become active when exposed to light. These activated drugs may kill cancer cells.
Phlegm
Thick mucus made by the cells lining the upper airways and lungs
PI3 kinase
A protein that is often active in lung cancer cells. The active form of the PI3 kinase protein provides a continuous "don't stop growing" signal and protects cancer cells from chemotherapy
Platelet
Type of blood cell responsible for blood clotting. Platelets are found in the blood and spleen.
Pleomorphic
Occurring in various distinct forms; in terms of cells, having variation in the size and shape of cells or their nuclei
Pleura
A thin layer of tissue that cover the lungs and lines the inside wall of the chest cavity. It protects and cushions the lungs. The fluid it secretes allows the lungs to move smoothly in the chest cavity while a person is breathing.
Pleural cavity
The space enclosed by the pleura, a thin layer of tissue that covers the lung and lines the inside wall of the chest cavity
Pleural effusion
Fluid around the lungs
Pneumonectomy
Surgery to remove an entire lung
Pneumonia
A severe inflammation of all or part of the lungs in which the tiny air sacs called alveoli are filled with fluid. Symptoms include cough, fever, and trouble breathing.
Pneumonitis
Inflammation of the lungs that may be caused by disease, infection, radiation or other therapy, allergy, or irritation of lung tissue by inhaled substance
Pneumothorax
An abnormal collection of air or gas in the space between the lung and the chest wall
Positron emission tomography
See PET scan
PPARγ
A protein that, when activated by certain drugs, provides "stop growing" signals to cancer cells
Primary tumor
A term used to describe the original, or first, tumor in the body
Prognosis
The likely outcome or course of a disease; the chance of recovery or recurrence
Progression
See Disease progression
Progression-free survival (PFS)
The length of time during and after the treatment of a disease, such as cancer, that a patient lives with the disease but it does not get worse. In a clinical trial, measuring the effect on progression-free survival is one way to see how well a new treatment works.
Progressive disease
An increase of at least 20% in the size of a tumor or in the extent of cancer in the body
Proliferating
Multiplying or increasing in number
Prophylactic cranial irradiation
Radiation therapy to the brain to reduce the risk of cancer spreading to that organ
Protein
A molecule made up of amino acids that is needed for the body to function properly. Proteins are the basis of body structures, such as skin and hair, and of other substances such as enzymes, cytokines, and antibodies.
Protocol
A detailed plan of a scientific or medical experiment, treatment, or procedure. In clinical trials, it states what the study will do, how it will be done, and why it is being done. It explains how many people will be in the study, who is eligible to take part in it, what study drugs or other interventions will be given, what tests will be done and how often, and what information will be collected.
Proton
A small, positively charged particle of matter found in the atoms of all elements
Proton therapy
A type of radiation therapy that uses streams of protons (tiny particles with a positive charge) to kill tumor cells. This type of treatment can reduce the amount of radiation damage to healthy tissue near a tumor. It is used to treat cancers of the head and neck and organs such as the brain, eye, lung, spine, and prostate.
Pruritus
Itching of the skin
Pseudoprogression
Growth in tumor size that is due to response to treatment and not to growth of cancer cells
Pulmonary rehabilitation
Behavior and lifestyle changes to help patients with chronic lung disease decrease breathing problems, return to daily activities, and improve quality of life. Education may include instruction about breathing exercises, nutrition, use of medicines, and ways for the patient to reduce stress and save energy.
Pulmonologist
A doctor who specializes in lung disease

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Quality of life
The overall enjoyment of life; an individual’s sense of well-being and ability to carry out various activities

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Radiation brachytherapy
See Brachytherapy
Radiation oncologist
A doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer
Radiation therapy
The use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons, and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy) or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy, or brachytherapy). Also called "irradiation" and "radiotherapy"
Radioactive
Giving off radiation
Radon
A radioactive gas that is released by uranium, a substance found in soil and rock. Breathing in too much radon can damage lung cells and may lead to lung cancer
Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST)
A standard way to measure how well a cancer patient responds to treatment. It is based on whether tumors shrink, stay the same, or get bigger. To use RECIST, there must be at least one tumor that can be measured on X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans. The types of response a patient can have are a complete response (CR), a partial response (PR), progressive disease (PD), and stable disease (SD)
Recurrent lung cancer
Lung cancer that has come back after a period of time during which the cancer could not be detected. The lung cancer may come back in the lung near the original tumor, in lymph nodes or in a distant organ.
Red blood cells
A type of blood cell that is made in the bone marrow and found in the blood. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body
Regional chemotherapy
Treatment with anticancer drugs directed to a specific area of the body
Relapse
The return of a disease or the signs and symptoms of a disease after a period of improvement
Relapse-free survival
In lung cancer, the length of time after primary treatment for the cancer ends that the patient survives without any signs or symptoms of that cancer. In a clinical trial, measuring the relapse-free survival is one way to see how well a new treatment works. Also called "DFS," "disease-free survival," and "RFS"
Relative survival rate
A way of comparing the survival of people who have a specific disease with those who don’t, over a certain period of time (usually 5 years) from the date of diagnosis or the start of treatment for those with the disease. It is calculated by dividing the percentage of patients with the disease who are still alive at the end of the period of time by the percentage of people in the general population of the same sex and age who are alive at the end of the same time period. The relative survival rate shows whether the disease shortens life.
Renal dysfunction
Reduced ability of the kidneys to filter blood and remove waste products and excess fluid from the body
Resectable
Able to be removed by surgery
Respiratory tract
The organs that are involved in breathing. These include the nose, throat, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and lungs. Also called "respiratory system"
Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST)
A standard way to measure how well a person with cancer responds to treatment. It is based on whether tumors shrink, stay the same, or get bigger. The types of response a patient can have are a complete response (CR), a partial response (PR), progressive disease (PD), and stable disease (SD).
Restaging
Staging lung cancer after a recurrence
Risk profile
The probability of developing lung cancer, as determined by laboratory tests and spiral CT
Robotic-assisted surgery
Surgery in which a doctor sits at a control panel using robotic arms to maneuver long surgical instruments
ROS1
A gene that the body normally produces but, when it fuses with another gene, produces an abnormal protein that leads to cancer cell growth

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Salivary gland cancer
A rare cancer that forms in tissues of a salivary gland (gland in the mouth that makes saliva). Most salivary gland cancers occur in older people.
Screening
Checking for disease when there are no symptoms
Secondary finding
A result that is actively sought as part of a test or procedure but is not the primary aim
Secondhand smoke
Smoke that comes from the burning of a tobacco product and smoke that is exhaled by smokers. Inhaling secondhand smoke is called involuntary or passive smoking. Also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS)
Second-line clinical trial
Clinical trial for patients who have had a prior chemotherapy for metastatic disease
Second-line treatment or therapy
Treatment that is usually started after the first set of treatments doesn’t work, has stopped working, or has side effects that are not tolerated
Sedation
A state of calmness, relaxation, or sleepiness caused by certain drugs
Segmentectomy
Surgical removal of a section of a lobe of the lung. Also called "segmental resection"
Sleeve resection
Surgery to remove a lung tumor that is in a lobe of the lung and in the main bronchus, or airway. The tumor is removed and the ends of the bronchus are rejoined and any remaining lobes are reattached to the bronchus. This surgery is done to save part of the lung. Also called "sleeve lobectomy"
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)
A fast-growing cancer that forms in tissues of the lung and can spread to other parts of the body. Named "small" for how the cancer cells look under a microscope
Somatic mutation
An alteration in DNA that occurs after conception. Somatic mutations can occur in any of the cells of the body except the germ cells (sperm and egg) and therefore are not passed on to children. These alterations can (but do not always) cause cancer or other diseases
Spiral CT scan
See Helical CT scan
Spirometer
An apparatus for measuring the movement of air into and out of the lungs
Spleen
An organ that is part of the lymphatic system. The spleen makes lymphocytes, filters the blood, stores blood cells, and destroys old blood cells. It is located on the left side of the abdomen near the stomach.
Sputum
Mucus and other matter brought up from the lungs by coughing
Sputum cytology
Examination under a microscope of cells found in sputum brought up from the lungs by coughing. The test checks for abnormal cells, such as lung cancer cells
Squamous cell lung cancer
A type of non-small cell lung cancer that usually starts near a central bronchus. It begins in squamous cells, which are thin, flat cells that look like fish scales.
Stable disease
Cancer that is neither decreasing nor increasing in extent or severity
Stage
The extent of a cancer in the body
Stage 0 lung cancer in situ
A stage in which abnormal cells found in the lining of the airways. These abnormal cells may become cancer and spread into nearby normal tissue.
Stage I lung cancer
A stage in which the lung tumor has grown through the innermost lining of the lung into deeper lung tissue. The tumor is no more than 5 centimeters across. Cancer cells have not spread to nearby tissues or lymph nodes.
Stage II lung cancer
A stage in which the lung tumor is smaller than 7 centimeters across and cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes on the same side as the tumor; or the lung tumor is more than 5 centimeters across and the cancer did not spread to the lymph nodes but it did invade nearby tissues, such as the chest wall, diaphragm, pleura, main bronchus, or tissue that surrounds the heart. More than one tumor may be found within the same lobe of the lung.
Stage III lung cancer
A stage in which the lung tumor can be any size, and more than one tumor may be within the same lung. Cancer cells may have spread to lymph nodes on either side of the chest or the neck. The tumor may have invaded nearby organs, such as the heart, esophagus, or trachea.
Stage IV lung cancer
A stage in which tumors are found in both lungs; or the lung cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the brain, bones, liver, or adrenal glands
Staging
A way of describing where the cancer is located, if or to where it has spread, and whether it is affecting other parts of the body. Useful for deciding treatment approach and helping to predict a patient’s chance of recovery
Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT)
A type of external radiation therapy that uses special equipment to position a patient and precisely deliver extremely high doses of radiation to the tumor while decreasing the dose to healthy tissue nearby. Instead of giving small doses of radiation each day for several weeks, SBRT can be given in two to five treatments.
Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)
A type of stereotactic body radiation therapy that is given in a single large dose of radiation to a tumor
Stomatitis
Inflammation or irritation of the mucous membranes in the mouth
Subcutaneous
Beneath the skin
Survivorship
The experience of dealing with lung cancer, along the continuum of diagnosis, treatment, living with cancer, and after the cancer has been cured
Systemic chemotherapy
Treatment with anticancer drugs that travel through the blood to cells all over the body
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
A chronic, inflammatory, connective tissue disease that can affect the joints and many organs, including the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, and nervous system. It can cause many different symptoms; however, not everyone with systemic lupus erythematosus has all of the symptoms. Also called "lupus"

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Targeted cancer therapies
A type of treatment that uses drugs to attack specific types of cancer cells with less harm to normal cells. Some targeted therapies block the action of certain enzymes, proteins, or other molecules involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells.
T cell, T lymphocyte
A type of white blood cell. T cells are part of the immune system and develop from stem cells in the bone marrow. They help protect the body from infection and may help fight cancer.
Terminal illness
Disease that cannot be cured and will cause death
Therapeutic cancer vaccine
A type of treatment, using a vaccine that is usually made from a patient’s own tumor cells or from substances taken from tumor cells. A cancer vaccine may help the immune system kill cancer cells
Third-line treatment or therapy
Treatment that is given when both initial treatment (first-line therapy) and subsequent treatment (second-line therapy) don’t work or stop working
Thoracentesis
Removal of fluid from around the lungs through a hollow needle inserted between the ribs
Thoracic surgeon
A surgeon specially trained in operating on people with lung cancer
Thoracoscopy
See VATS (video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery)
Thoracotomy
An incision made between the ribs in the side of the chest to open up the chest. This surgery is used to examine the lung and to remove tumor, surrounding tissue, and nearby lymph nodes
Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT)
A form of external radiation therapy that uses special computers to precisely map the location of the tumor. Radiation beams are shaped and aimed at the tumor from several directions, which makes it less likely to damage normal tissues.
Thrombocytopenia
A condition in which there are fewer platelets in the blood than normal. It may result in easy bruising and excessive bleeding from wounds or bleeding in mucous membranes and other tissues.
Thymus
An organ that is part of the lymphatic system, in which T lymphocytes grow and multiply. The thymus is in the chest behind the breastbone.
TKI
See Tyrosine kinase inhibitor
Tracer
A substance used in imaging procedures so that certain structures can be identified or the substance can be followed
Trachea
The airway that leads from the larynx (voice box) to the bronchi (large airways that lead to the lungs). Also called "windpipe"
Transaminase
A type of enzyme that causes the transfer of a chemical substance called an amino group from one molecule to another. Transaminases are involved in many processes in the body, such as making amino acids
Transthoracic needle biopsy
A procedure in which an interventional radiologist inserts a needle into the chest wall to remove fluid or tissue
Tumor
An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should
Tumor microenvironment
The normal cells, molecules, and blood vessels that surround and feed a tumor cell. A tumor can change its microenvironment, and the microenvironment can affect how a tumor grows and spreads.
Tyrosine kinase
A specific enzyme produced by the body to control cell functions, including cell signaling, growth, and division. These enzymes may be too active or found at high levels in some types of cancer cells.
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors
A type of targeted therapy that blocks the action of enzymes called tyrosine kinases in order to keep cancer cells from growing. Also called "TKIs"

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Ultrasound
A procedure that uses high-energy sound waves to look at tissues and organs inside the body
Unresectable
Unable to be removed by surgery

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Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)
A protein made by cells that stimulates new blood vessel formation
Vasculature
The arrangement of blood vessels in an organ or other part of the body
VATS (video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery)
A procedure in which a surgeon makes a small incision in the skin of the chest wall and inserts a special instrument with a small video camera on the end to examine the inside of the chest. Samples of tissue are removed for a pathologist to look at under the microscope. Also called "thoracoscopy"
VEGF
See Vascular endothelial growth factor
Virus
A very simple microorganism that infects cells and may cause disease. Because viruses can multiply only inside infected cells, they are not considered to be alive

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Wedge resection
Surgery to remove a triangle-shaped slice of tissue. It may be used to remove a tumor and a small amount of normal tissue around it
Wheezing
A whistling-type noise that may occur while breathing because of narrowing of the small airways of the lungs
Windpipe
See Trachea
White blood cell
A type of blood cell that is made in the bone marrow and found in the blood and lymph tissue. White blood cells are part of the body’s immune system. They help the body fight infection and other diseases. Types of white blood cells are granulocytes (neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils), monocytes, and lymphocytes (T cells and B cells).
World Health Organization (WHO) criteria
Tumor response criteria, mainly for use in clinical trials, where tumor response is the primary endpoint. Response to therapy is evaluated by the change from baseline while on treatment

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X-rays
A type of radiation used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases. In low doses, X-rays are used to diagnose diseases by making pictures of the inside of the body. In high doses, X-rays are used to treat cancer.

References

  1. “NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms,” National Cancer Institute, accessed April 14, 2014, and July 2, 2014, http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary.
  2. “Mayo Clinic Diseases and Conditions,“ Mayo Clinic, accessed April 14, 2014, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions.
  3. Medline Plus. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000235.htm. Accessed March 22, 2014.
  4. Merriam Webster Medical, accessed April 13, 2014, and July 2, 2014, http://www.merriam-webster.com.
  5. Clinicaltrials.gov, US National Institutes of Health, accessed February 15, 2014, http://clinicaltrials.gov/.
  6. “Navigators Help Cancer Patients Manage Their Care,” American Cancer Society, accessed July 29, 2014, http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/navigators-help-cancer-patients-manage-their-care.