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.

Malignant tumour

A tumour that is cancerous, meaning cells that continue to multiply more than is needed to replace themselves. Cancerous cells invade the tissue surrounding the malignant tumour, and can break off and travel to other parts of the body, where they become new tumours.1 See also ‘Benign tumour’

Medical physicist

A healthcare professional who uses the concepts and methods of physics to prevent, diagnose and treat disease. They are responsible for the commissioning, calibration, safe operation and maintenance of a variety of imaging modems.1 7


A type of cancer with similar symptoms and risk factors to lung cancer, which also occurs in the chest. While lung cancer develops in the lung itself, mesothelioma usually develops throughout the lining outside of the lung (pleural mesothelioma). Unlike lung cancer, mesothelioma is also almost exclusively caused by inhaling asbestos.2 See also ‘Asbestos’, ‘Nodule’, ‘Non-small-cell lung cancer’ and ‘Small-cell lung cancer’

Metastatic lung cancer

Cancer that spreads from its point of origin in the lung to another part of the body. Metastatic cancer has the same name as the primary cancer; for example, lung cancer that spreads to the brain would be treated as stage IV lung cancer, not brain cancer.3 See also ‘Advanced lung cancer’

Mobile screening

A mobile unit that comprises the equipment and staff needed to carry out low-dose computed tomography screening in specialised vehicles in the community instead of a hospital or clinic.4 See also ‘Computed tomography’, ‘Low-dose computed tomography’ and ‘Organised screening’

Model of screening

The three different organisational structures for a lung cancer screening programme: centralised (where the lung cancer screening team (LCST) are responsible for all screening, referrals and follow-up), decentralised ­(where the LCST perform just the screening and interpretation and leave all referrals and follow-up to the primary health professional) and hybrid (where different aspects of centralised and decentralised screening are combined).2 7

Molecular diagnostic testing

The collection and testing of fluid samples to sequence genetic code and detect biomarkers that highlight potential disease.3 5 See also ‘next generation sequencing’


Morbidity has two different meanings: (1) having a disease or symptoms of a disease, (2) a measure of disease in a population.5 The way we use the term on the website depends on the context. See also ‘Disability-adjusted life year’ and ‘Mortality’


A measurement for the death rate in a population.6 It can be expressed as all-cause mortality or disease-specific mortality. All-cause mortality is the total number of people in a population who have a disease that have died, regardless of the primary cause of death. For example, if a person was diagnosed with lung cancer but died of heart failure, their death would count towards all-cause mortality. Disease-specific mortality is defined as the number of deaths due to a disease in a population within a specified time period.


A study or programme that is carried out at more than one site.7

Multidisciplinary team (MDT)

A coordinated group of healthcare professionals with different specialties, who work together to make decisions regarding treatment and care.8 A lung cancer MDT may include family physicians, radiologists, radiographers, nuclear medicine specialists, medical oncologists, respiratory physicians, thoracic surgeons, nurses, pathologists, social workers and pharmacists.9


  1. Healthline. Benign and malignant tumors: how do they differ?  Available from: [Accessed 27/04/22]

  2., The Mesothelioma Center. 2022. Mesothelioma vs. lung cancer: Differences, symptoms & treatment. [Updated 23/02/22].  Available from: [Accessed 11/04/22]

  3. National Cancer Institute. Metastatic cancer. [Updated 10/11/20].  Available from: [Accessed 30/03/22]

  4. Crosbie PA, Balata H, Evison M, et al. 2018. Implementing lung cancer screening: baseline results from a community-based ‘Lung Health Check’ pilot in deprived areas of Manchester. Thorax 74(4): 405-09

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

  6. Global Lung Cancer Coalition. 2022. Glossary.  Available from: [Accessed 04/03/22]

  7. The Global Health Network. Single or multicentre trials. [Updated 16/12/03].  Available from: [Accessed 30/03/22]

  8. National Health Service. Information sharing in multidisciplinary teams (MDTs). [Updated 02/02/22].  Available from: [Accessed 04/03/22]

  9. Cancer Council Australia. 2016. Optimal pathways for people with lung cancer. Sydney: Cancer Council Australia