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.


A standard measure of the amount of cigarettes a person has smoked during their lifetime. It is calculated by multiplying the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day by the number of years a person has smoked. For example, one pack-year is equal to smoking one pack per day for one year, or two packs per day for half a year, and so on.1

Palliative care

The care provided after a terminal diagnosis. This is holistic care that involves managing symptoms, emotional, spiritual and psychological support, practical support (such as will writing and equipment procurement), and optimising the patients quality of life. See also ‘terminal diagnosis’, ‘holistic care’ and ‘quality of life’.

Participation rate

The number of people invited for screening who attend a screening unit and undergo a scan. It is also referred to as ‘uptake’.2 See also ‘Organised screening’ and ‘Targeted screening’


Medical doctor specialising in the diagnosis of medical conditions using tissue, blood, urine and other bodily fluids. They analyse samples using laboratory tests and techniques.3

Patient navigator

The role of a patient navigator is to support and guide patients through their care journey. They provide holistic, physical, emotional, psychological, social, emotional and practical support, and can act as an educator and advocate.4 See also ‘advocate’ and ‘holistic’


A biomarker that can help to identify whether a patient would benefit from immunotherapy to treat their lung cancer.5 See also ‘biomarker’ and ‘immunotherapy’

Phantom (study)

An object designed to mimic the properties of human tissue, used to study and develop new imaging and treatment options. It can be used to calibrate CT scans to optimise dosages and improve image quality.6 See also ‘computed tomography’


The preliminary roll-out of an organised programme across designated sites or a geographic region. Pilots usually assess the performance of a programme rather than outcomes.7 The terms ‘pilot’, ‘feasibility study’ and ‘implementation study’ are often used interchangeably. Although definitions vary, they usually share common research objectives around the implementation of an intervention.8 See also ‘Feasibility study’ and ‘Implementation study’

Position statement

A concise summary of the political and legislative context, and existing evidence for a specific subject. Published by an individual or organisation, it reflects the consensus view on the subject.9

Precision medicine

A medical model that tailors disease prevention and treatment to the individual, taking into account differences in genes, environments and lifestyles.10 Also known as ‘personalised medicine’.


A healthcare intervention in preparation for cancer treatment focusing on mental wellbeing, physical activity, weight and nutrition.11


A measurement of the burden of a disease in a population. It is the number of people who have a particular disease per 100,000 population at a specific point in time or during a specific period.12 See also ‘Incidence’


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

  2. Baldwin DR, Brain K, Quaife S. 2021. Participation in lung cancer screening. Translational lung cancer research 10(2): 1091-98

  3. The Cleveland Clinic. 2023. Pathologist. Available from: [Accessed 03/08/2023]

  4. King G. 2016. Patient Navigators. Available from: [Accessed 04/08/2023]

  5. American Lung Association. 2022. PD-L1, PD1, TMB and Lung Cancer. Available from: [Accessed 10/08/2023]

  6. University of Utah Health. 2022. Tissue-mimicking phantom. Available from: [Accessed 10/08/2023]

  7. World Health Organization. 2020. WHO report on cancer: setting priorities, investing wisely and providing care for all. Geneva: WHO

  8. 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

  9. Jones A, Azam S. 2016. Process for developing Position Statements for Public Health Wales. Cardiff, Wales: Public Health Wales

  10. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. 2018. Precision Medicine. Available from: [Accessed 10/08/2023]

  11. Cancer Research UK. 2021. What is prehabilitation? Available from: [Accessed 10/08/2023]

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

  13. Griffin E, Hyde C, Long L, et al. 2020. Lung cancer screening by low-dose computed tomography: a cost-effectiveness analysis of alternative programmes in the UK using a newly developed natural history-based economic model. Diagn Progn Res 4(1): 20

  14. Ranganathan P, Aggarwal R. 2018. Study designs: Part 1 – An overview and classification. Perspect Clin Res 9(4): 184-86

  15. Norvell DC. 2010. Study types and bias: Don’t judge a study by the abstract’s conclusion alone. Evid Based Spine Care J 1(2): 7-10

  16. Merriam-Webster. Dictionary.  Available from: [Accessed 30/03/22]

  17. The Cleveland Clinic. 2021. Pulmonologist. Available from: [Accessed 03/08/2023]