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.

Screening interval

The time between two screening rounds. Screening intervals may be the same for all participants (fixed) or they may be changed based on data collected on individual participants at a later date (individualised).1 See also ‘Incidental findings’, ‘Nodule’ and ‘Follow-up’

Screening pathway

The steps a screening participant will go through, from the initial invitation through to their appointment and any follow-ups.2

Secondary prevention

A risk-reduction strategy that aims to slow or stop a disease from progressing to a later stage. The term is often used to refer to early detection strategies, such as lung cancer screening.3 4 See also ‘Early detection’, ‘Early diagnosis’, ‘Late presentation’ and ‘Primary prevention’

Shared decision-making

A practice whereby individuals decide through discussion with healthcare professionals which tests, treatments or support packages are most suitable for them. In shared decision-making both the evidence and the individual’s preferences and personal values are taken into account. The process ensures they fully understand the risks, benefits and possible consequences of different options.5 6 See also ‘Decision aid’


This is the unit of measurement for the effective dose of radiation a person receives. This is the measurement of the biological effect of radiation on the body, the larger the value the greater the effects of radiation on the person.

Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC)

An aggressive, fast-growing type of lung cancer that accounts for approximately 15% of all lung cancers.8 With SCLC, cells look small and oval shaped when seen under a microscope.9 See also ‘Non-small-cell lung cancer’ and ‘Stage’


There is contention around this term, as it can be seen as depersonalising.4 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 smokes’.

Smoking cessation counselling

A type of behavioural intervention that aims to support people who currently smoke to stop smoking.10 This often involves an individual or group consultation with a healthcare professional, referral to a smoking cessation programme or a follow-up appointment to discuss nicotine replacement therapy. Counselling may also be offered opportunistically, when a person who smokes attends an appointment for another reason such as lung cancer screening.11 See also ‘Decision aid’ and ‘Shared decision-making’


A standardised approach for describing where it is, how serious it is in terms of estimated survival, and which treatment or care options are most appropriate:
  • stage I: the cancer is contained within the lung
  • stage II: the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes near the lungs
  • stage III: the cancer has spread further into the lymph nodes and the middle of the chest
  • stage IV: the cancer has spread widely around the body, such as the brain, bones or liver.
See also ‘Advanced lung cancer’, ‘Early stage lung cancer’, ‘Survival (by stage)’, ‘TNM system’


An individual or group who has responsibility for, is affected by, or has an interest in the outcome of a decision or intervention.12

Steering Committee

An advisory group that uses expert advice and data to ensure a project is progressing as planned and is achieving the defined objectives. They provide support, guidance and oversight for a project but are not directly involved in the project.13 See also ‘working group’


Stigma describes feelings of ‘exclusion, rejection, blame or devaluation’ in relation to lung cancer.14 It can affect the individual, people in their immediate environment, the health system and society, and can influence perceptions and decision-making for lung cancer. The association between lung cancer and smoking may make a person feel embarrassed or ashamed of their diagnosis. Stigma could also affect the quality of care they receive.15


  1. 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:

  2. Public Health England. Bowel cancer screening pathway requirements specification.  Available from: [Accessed 27/04/22]

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

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

  5. National Health Service. About shared decision making.  Available from: [Accessed 07/03/22]

  6. Politi MC, Studts JL, Hayslip JW. 2012. Shared decision making in oncology practice: what do oncologists need to know? The oncologist 17(1): 91-100

  7. Ministry of the Environment: Government of Japan. 2019. Bequerel and Sievert. Available from: [Accessed 10/08/2023]

  8. Rudin CM, Brambilla E, Faivre-Finn C, et al. 2021. Small-cell lung cancer. Nature Reviews Disease Primers 7(1): 3

  9. National Cancer Institute. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version. [Updated 04/03/22].  Available from: [Accessed 07/03/22]

  10. NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries. Smoking cessation. [Updated 01/09/21].  Available from: [Accessed 07/03/22]

  11. Cadham CJ, Jayasekera JC, Advani SM et al. 2019. Smoking cessation interventions for potential use in the lung cancer screening setting: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lung cancer (Amsterdam, Netherlands) 135: 205-16

  12. Concannon TW, Meissner P, Grunbaum JA, et al. 2012. A new taxonomy for stakeholder engagement in patient-centered outcomes research. J Gen Intern Med 27(8): 985-91

  13. Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales. 2016. Implmenting a project: the role of a Steering Committee. Available from:$file/SteeringCommittee.pdf [Accessed 04/08/2023]

  14. Vrinten C, Gallagher A, Waller J, et al. 2019. Cancer stigma and cancer screening attendance: a population based survey in England. BMC Cancer 19(1): 566

  15. Hamann HA, Ver Hoeve ES, Carter-Harris L, et al. 2018. Multilevel opportunities to address lung cancer stigma across the cancer control continuum. Journal of Thoracic Oncology 13(8): 1062-75

  16. Cancer Research UK. Types of surgery. [Updated 23/10/19].  Available from: [Accessed 07/03/22]

  17. Goldstraw P, Chansky K, Crowley J et al. 2016. The IASLC lung cancer staging project: proposals for revision of the TNM stage groupings in the forthcoming (eighth) edition of the TNM classification for lung cancer. Journal of Thoracic Oncology 11(1): 39-51

  18. Allemani C, Matsuda T, Di Carlo V, et al. 2018. Global surveillance of trends in cancer survival 2000–14 (CONCORD-3): analysis of individual records for 37 513 025 patients diagnosed with one of 18 cancers from 322 population-based registries in 71 countries. The Lancet 391(10125): 1023-75

  19. Lung Cancer Europe. 2020. 5th LuCE report on lung cancer: psychological and social impact of lung cancer. Bern: LuCE

  20. United Kingdom Lung Cancer Coalition. 2020. Early diagnosis matters: making the case for the early and rapid diagnosis of lung cancer. London: UKLCC