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  • Acute pain
    Pain that comes on quickly and may be severe, but lasts a relatively short period of time.

  • Adenocarcinoma
    cancer that forms in the cells of glands or in parts of the body that produce mucous. Also called "nonsmall cell lung cancer". Tumors include cube or column-shaped cells found along the outer edges of the lungs and under the membrane lining of the bronchi.

  • Adjuvant therapy
    Chemotherapy drugs (including hormones) given after surgery or radiation or both to help prevent the cancer from coming back.

  • Alopecia
    Autoimmune disease occurring on areas of the body (most commonly the scalp) where a person's immune system attacks hair follicles suppressing and arresting hair growth.

  • Alveoli
    Tiny structures inside the lungs responsible for pulmonary gas exchange. Asbestos fibers become lodged in these structures which may lead to scarring.

  • Anemia
    Having too few red blood cells. Common side effect of chemotherapy. Symptoms of anemia include feeling tired, weak, and short of breath.

  • Angiogenesis
    The formation of new blood vessels. Angiogenesis is essential for the growth of tumors. Tumor cells release chemicals to encourage blood vessel growth.

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitor
    A chemical which signals the process of angiogenesis to stop and thereby prevents the formation of blood vessels. In anticancer therapy, an angiogenesis inhibitor prevents the growth of blood vessels from surrounding tissue to a solid tumor.

  • Antiangiogenesis
    Prevention of the growth of new blood vessels. Drug designers use this strategy to try to slow tumor growth.

  • Asbestos
    A mineral fiber. Breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to lung cancer.

  • Ascites
    An accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity symptomatic of mesothelioma and also found in patients with cirrhosis.

  • Biologic therapy
    Treatment that stimulates the body's immune defense system to fight infection and disease. Also called immunotherapy. Some doctors consider this a type of chemotherapy, but it is usually classified as a separate type of treatment.

  • Brachytherapy
    One of the earliest forms of cancer treatment, brachytherapy involves the insertion of small tube-like seeds that contain a dose of radiation into or directly next to a tumor. This has largely been replaced by external radiation therapy but is still a common treatment for prostate cancer.

  • Breakthrough pain
    Pain that occurs in patients with chronic pain that is controlled by medications. The pain "breaks through" the normal control.

  • Carcinogen
    A substance that is known to cause cancer. Asbestos can be considered a carcinogen because it can cause mesothelioma.

  • CAT scan
    Computerized tomography - a diagnostic medical test that uses X-Rays to create a 3-dimensional image of part of the body.
  • More on medical imaging.

  • Chemotherapy
    The use of anticancer drugs, generally administered through an IV, to treat cancer.

  • Chronic pain
    Pain that may range from mild to severe and persists or progresses over a long period of time.

  • Clinical Trials
    Medical studies designed to compare a well-known, or standard, treatment with a new or alternative treatment. Clinical trials are usually done in three phases. Phase I tests the safety of the treatment on a small number of patients. Phase II assesses the effectiveness of the treatment and usually involves a larger group of people. Phase III provides in-depth information about the effectiveness and safety, by comparing experimental treatment with the standard protocol. Phase III trials usually involve several thousand patients nationwide.

  • Combination Chemotherapy
    The use of more than one drug to treat cancer.

  • Decortication
    A surgical procedure involving the removal of the membrane or outer cover of an organ. The procedure is commonly performed on mesothelioma patients if the lung is constricted and cannot be totally inflated.

  • Diagnostic
    The use of skilled and scientific methods to establish the cause and nature of a disease.

  • Double-Blind
    Clinical trial in which participants do not know what treatment they are receiving. The doctors and nurses treating them don't know either. Researchers keep this information secret until each patient's health status is known, usually after at least a year or more of treatments.

  • Dyspnea
    Shortness of breath; difficulty breathing..

  • Epidemiology
    The study of a disease that is widespread and rapidly spreading.

  • Epithelial Cells
    One of the 4 main bodily tissues, they often compose the linings of organs and membranes as well as the skin. These cells line the insides of the lungs.

  • Etiology
    The science and study of the causes, origins and reasons of diseases and their mode of operation.

  • Gene Therapy
    A technique for modifying genes responsible for disease development. Still largely experimental.

  • Immunotherapy
    A treatment which activates the bodies own immune system to destroy disease. Treatment of disease by stimulating the body s own immune system. This is a type of therapy currently being researched as a treatment for cancer.

  • Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
    High-precision radiation therapy technique uses computer-controlled x-ray beams so that the radiation delivery conforms to the shape of the tumor. It does this by modulating-or controlling-the intensity of the radiation beam to focus a higher radiation dose to the tumor while minimizing radiation to surrounding healthy tissues.

  • Laparoscope
    A small telescoping rod inserted into the body during laparoscopy. It often contains an illuminating device and a camera to transmit images to the operating physician. It can also have a small component capable of removing tissue for sampling.

  • Laparoscopy
    A minimally invasive surgical procedure where small incisions are made in the abdominal area and a laparoscope is inserted into the body. Often used for biopsies it can also be used for minor surgeries.

  • Macrophages
    Cells that digest pathogens and cellular debris. When trying to digest inhaled asbestos fibers in the lungs, they often split open and their internal fluids then damage the alveoli. The damage is then multiplied as more macrophages try to digest the particle and eventually fibrosis may develop.

  • Markers
    Physiological indications of the presence of cancer. Mesothelioma is often diagnosed with the immunohistochemical markers.

  • Mediastinoscopy
    A surgical procedure to examine the inside of the upper chest between and in front of the lungs (also known as the mediastinum). During a mediastinoscopy, a thin scope (mediastinoscope) is inserted through a small incision. A tissue sample (biopsy) can be collected through the mediastinoscope and then examined.

  • Mesothelin
    A glycosylphosphatidylinositol-linked glycoprotein. A cell surface antigen. The biological function is not known, but the protein is expressed in large quantities in mesothelial cells, and in mesotheliomas and other cancers.

  • Mesothelioma
    A form of cancer where the primary tumor is on the mesothelium - the internal lining of body cavities. Mesothelioma is a carcinoma. It is called pleural mesothelioma when the pleural cavity is affected and peritoneal mesothelioma when the tumor is in the abdominal cavity. Most mesothelioma cases can be traced to inhalation of asbestos fibers.

  • Mesothelium
    Membrane that lines the pleura, peritoneum, and pericardium and produces lubricating fluids to allow the heart and lungs to glide against neighboring structures

  • Metastasis/Metastasized
    The spread of cancer cells to distant areas of the body through the lymph system or bloodstream.

  • MRI
    magnetic resonance imaging - a diagnostic medical test that uses magnetic fields to create a 3-dimensional image of part of the body.

  • Multimodality therapy
    Click here for explanation

  • Oncogenesis
    The development of cellular changes leading to the development of a malignant tumor

  • Opioids
    Powerful prescription medications that are administered to relieve severe pain. Common opioids are endorphin, fentanyl and methadone.

  • Palliative
    Treatment that is not expected to cure, but rather to slow down the progress of a disease and make the person comfortable and as happy as possible throughout the process.
  • More.

  • Paracentesis
    Medical procedure that uses a needle remove/drain fluid accumulated in the abdominal cavity (peritoneal fluid). These fluid deposits are also called ascites.
  • Used in the diagnosis of mesothelioma. More.

  • Parenchyma
    The functional parts of an organ. For instance alveoli are part of the parenchyma of the lung.

  • Pericardium
    A protective layer of tissue enveloping the heart and the origins of many important blood vessels. The fibrous layer of the pericardium anchors the heart to surrounding tissue and prevents it from overfilling with blood. The serous layer prevents friction as the heart pumps.

  • Peritoneum
    Lining of the abdominal organs and cavity.

  • Phagocytosis
    Process wherein a cell surrounds large particles and envelops them through the cell membrane. (See Macrophages)

  • Photodynamic therapy
    New cancer therapy. Patients are injected with a photosensitized chemical designed to be absorbed by the cancerous cells, not the healthy cells. The area is then irradiated with light that activates the chemical and causes the cancerous cells to die.

  • Pleura
    The thin covering that protects and cushions the lungs and chest cavity. The pleura is made up of two membrane (layers of tissue) that are separated by a small amount of fluid.

  • Pleural Effusions
    Collection of fluid in the pleural space between the lung and the chest wall.

  • Pleural fluid
    A serous fluid found within the pleural cavity between the parietal and visceral pleura

  • Positron Emission Tomography
    PET, or Positron Emission Tomography, is a procedure that produces powerful images of the body's biological functions and is being used more and more frequently in the treatment and monitoring of malignant diseases. Unlike conventional imaging, PET does not show the body's anatomy, rather it shows the chemical function or metabolism of an organ or tissue.

  • Pneumonitis
    Inflammation of the lung tissue which can lead to permanent scarring. One cause of pneumonitis is the inhalation of asbestos.

  • Prognosis
    A doctor's opinion on the progression of a patient's condition and chances for improvement/recovery.

  • Proto oncogenes Genes that code for cell growth regulation and differentiation. They can lead to malignant tumors if they are mutated or over expressed.

  • Radiation therapy
    The use of high-energy rays or subatomic particles to treat disease. Types of radiation include x-ray, electron beam, alpha and beta particle, and gamma ray.

  • Stroma
    The non-functioning supportive framework of an organ. The mesothelium which lines the pleura, peritoneum, and pericardium can be considered stroma.

  • Thoracentesis
    Removal of fluid from the pleural cavity in the chest by inserting a needle into the chest. Used in diagnosis of mesothelioma.

  • Thrombocytopenia
    Thrombocytopenia is a reduced platelet (thrombocyte) count. It occurs when platelets are lost faster than they can be replaced. It can be caused by a failure in platelet production or a severe injury.
  • More.

  • Tomotherapy
    A form of Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy that integrates a CT Scan in the treatment to better target tumors and reduce radiation to healthy tissue. The scan allows greater precision for the radiation treatment by pinpointing tumor mass. Tomotherpy.

  • Tumor Suppressor Gene
    A gene that when activated can halt a cell's cycle or encourage apoptosis reducing the probability that a damaged cell will evolve into a tumor cell.

  • Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery
    A technique used to diagnose and treat problems in the chest, which has found increasing use in mesothelioma diagnosis in recent years. The doctors inserts a fiber-optic camera (called a thorascope) into the chest.

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