The glossary explains some of the words used across this website and covers some key cancer and research terms, which primarily focus on lung cancer.

False negative

A scenario where a lung cancer screening test fails to detect the presence of lung cancer. False negatives can result from a test being carried out incorrectly or a screening technique not being sensitive enough.1 See also ‘False positive’

False positive

A scenario where someone initially tests positive during lung cancer screening, but subsequent diagnostic procedures reveal that they do not have the disease. This error can result from a test failing to distinguish between cancerous and benign features on a scan.1 See also ‘False negative’ and ‘Overdiagnosis’

Feasibility study

Small-scale exploratory study designed to identify and mitigate any challenges around an intervention before it is introduced to a wider population (e.g. through a local pilot).2 The terms ‘feasibility study’, ‘implementation trial’ and ‘pilot’ are often used interchangeably. Although definitions vary, they often share common research objectives around the implementation of an intervention.3 See ‘Implementation study’, ‘Organised screening’ and ‘Pilot’


A period of time when a person's health is monitored following their participation in an intervention, such as a clinical trial or treatment programme.4 For lung cancer screening, this may be an invitation to a second scan a few months after an initial (baseline) scan.5 See also ‘Incidental nodule management protocol’

Former smoker

A person who doesn’t currently smoke but may have smoked in the past. There is contention around this term, as it can be seen as depersonalising.6 Where it is used on the website this is to reflect its usage in the source literature. The Lung Cancer Policy Network prefers the term ‘person who used to smoke’.


  1. Trevethan R. 2017. Sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values: Foundations, pliabilities, and pitfalls in research and practice. Frontiers in Public Health 5: 307

  2. Tickle-Degnen L. 2013. Nuts and bolts of conducting feasibility studies. Am J Occup Ther 67(2): 171-76

  3. Abbott JH. 2014. The distinction between randomized clinical trials (RCTs) and preliminary feasibility and pilot studies: what they are and are not. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 44(8): 555-58

  4. National Cancer Institute. NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms.  Available from: [Accessed 04/03/22]

  5. Oudkerk M, Liu S, Heuvelmans M, et al. 2020. Lung cancer LDCT screening and mortality reduction — evidence, pitfalls and future perspectives. Nature Reviews: Clinical Oncology: 10.1038/s41571-020-00432-6:

  6. International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer. 2021. IASLC Language Guide. Denver: IASLC