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Mesothelioma: 7 Phrases You Might Not Have Heard of But Should Know

Mesothelioma: 7 Phrases You Might Not Have Heard of But Should Know


The part of the body between the chest and hips, which contains the stomach, liver, bowel, kidneys and ovaries.

adjuvant treatment

A treatment given with or shortly after another treatment to enhance its effectiveness.

advanced cancer

Cancer that is unlikely to be cured.  It may be limited to its original site (primary cancer) or may have spread

to other parts of the body (secondary or metastatic cancer).

alternative     therapies Therapies that have not been scientifically tested but are used

in place of conventional treatment, often in the hope that they will provide a cure.


A drug that stops a person feeling pain during a medical procedure. Local and regional anaesthetics numb part of

the body; a general anaesthetic causes temporary loss of consciousness. asbestos

A naturally occurring silicate mineral that forms long, crystallised fibres. asbestosis

A slowly progressing lung disease caused by asbestos in which the lungs are gradually replaced by scar tissue. asbestos-related     diseases Disorders of the lung and pleura caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres. They include lung cancer

and mesothelioma as well as

non-cancerous disorders such as asbestosis, diffuse pleural thickening, pleural plaques, pleural fluid build-up and rounded atelectasis.


Collection of fluid in the abdomen, making it swollen and bloated. Also known as peritoneal effusion.



Not cancerous or malignant.


The removal of a sample of tissue or cells from the body for examination under a microscope to help diagnose a disease.


See mixed mesothelioma.


Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Also called dyspnoea.



Uncontrolled growth of cells that may result in abnormal blood cells or grow into a lump called a tumour. These cells may spread throughout the lymphatic system or bloodstream to form secondary or metastatic tumours. cells

The basic building blocks of the body. A human is made of billions of cells that are adapted for different functions. chemotherapy

A cancer treatment that uses drugs known as cytotoxics to kill cancer cells or slow their growth. May be given alone or in combination with other treatments.







chest cavity

The area enclosed by the ribs that includes the lungs (covered by the pleura) and the heart. Also known as the thoracic cavity.

clinical trial

A research study that tests new and better treatments to improve people’s health.  complementary   therapies

Supportive treatments that are used in conjunction with conventional treatment. They may improve general health, wellbeing and quality of

life, and help people cope with side effects of cancer.

CT-guided core biopsy

A procedure that uses CT to guide

the biopsy needle to an area to remove a sample.

CT scan

A computerised tomography scan. This scan uses x-rays to create a detailed, cross-sectional picture of the inside of the body. cytoreductive    surgery

Surgical removal of part of a malignant tumour that cannot be completely removed, so as to enhance the effectiveness of radiotherapy or chemotherapy.



Surgery to remove as much of a tumour as possible. This makes it easier to treat the cancer that is left and helps to increase the effectiveness of other treatments, such as chemotherapy.


The identification and naming of a person’s disease. diaphragm

A dome-like sheet of muscle that divides the chest cavity from the abdomen and is used in breathing.



Early postoperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy – chemotherapy given soon after surgery as a single course and delivered directly into the

abdomen through a thin tube. May be used after a peritonectomy. epithelioid

A type of mesothelioma. The cells resemble normal mesothelial cells. extrapleural   pneumonectomy   (EPP) Surgery used for some people with pleural mesothelioma. It removes the affected lung, plus parts of the lining  of the heart (pericardium), lining of the chest (parietal pleura) and diaphragm.



A fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography scan. For this scan, a low-level radioactive drug called fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) is injected into the body to show up areas of abnormal tissues.



The microscopic units that determine how the body’s cells grow and behave. Genes are found in every cell of the body and are inherited from both parents.








Heated intraoperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy – chemotherapy in which the drugs are heated and inserted directly into the abdomen for 60–90 minutes during a peritonectomy. Sometimes called “hot chemotherapy”.


induction     chemotherapy Chemotherapy given as the first treatment with the aim of making the next treatments (such as surgery or radiotherapy) more effective. indwelling    catheter

A thin tube inserted into either the pleural or peritoneal cavity to help drain a build-up of fluid. Sometimes called an indwelling drain. intensity-modulated       radiation therapy   (IMRT)

A type of radiotherapy that can be accurately shaped around the chest cavity. This allows higher doses to

be delivered to the tumour cells while reducing the damage to other organs.



Surgery done through small cuts in the abdomen using a tiny telescope called a laparoscope for viewing.

latency period/interval

The interval between exposure to a cancer-causing material and the clinical appearance of disease. lungs

The two spongy organs in the chest cavity, made up of large numbers of tiny air sacs. The lungs are used for breathing (respiration).

lymphatic system

A network of tissues, vessels, ducts and nodes that removes excess fluid from tissues, absorbs fatty acids and transports fat, and produces immune cells. Includes the bone marrow, spleen, thymus and lymph nodes. lymph  nodes

Small, bean-shaped glands that form part of the lymphatic system. Also called lymph glands.



Cancerous. Malignant cells can spread (metastasise) and eventually cause death if they cannot be treated. mediastinoscopy

A surgical procedure that allows a surgeon to examine the lymph nodes at the centre of the chest and remove a sample, if necessary.    mediastinum

The area in the chest between the lungs. It contains the heart and large blood vessels, the oesophagus, the trachea and many lymph nodes. medical    oncologist

A doctor who specialises in  treating cancer with drugs such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy and

targeted therapy (systemic treatments).

mesothelial cells

The cells of the mesothelium.


Cancer that starts in the mesothelial cells, which line parts of the body, such as the chest cavity or abdominal cavity. Sometimes called malignant mesothelioma.








A membrane that lines the chest cavity (pleura) and abdominal cavity (peritoneum) and surrounds the heart (pericardium).


Cancer that has spread from a primary cancer in another part of the body.

Also called secondary cancer.

mixed mesothelioma

A type of mesothelioma made up  of both epithelioid and sarcomatoid

cells. Sometimes known as biphasic mesothelioma.

multidisciplinary team (MDT)

A team of health professionals who collaborate to discuss a patient’s physical and emotional needs and decide on treatment.



Normothermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy – chemotherapy given as a long-term course directly into the abdomen after a peritonectomy.


palliative care

The holistic care of people who have a life-limiting illness, their families and carers. It aims to maintain quality of life by addressing physical, practical, emotional, spiritual and social needs. palliative     treatment

Medical treatment for people with advanced cancer to help them manage pain and other symptoms.

parietal peritoneum

The peritoneum’s outer layer that lines the walls of the abdomen and pelvis.

parietal pleura

The outer layer of the pleura that lines the chest wall and diaphragm.

PCI system

Peritoneal cancer index, a type of staging system indicating the extent of cancer in the peritoneal cavity. pericardium

A thin, double-layered sac that surrounds the heart. peritoneal   cavity

The space between the two layers of peritoneum, which normally contains a small amount of fluid.

peritoneal effusion See ascites. peritoneal tap

A procedure using a needle to drain fluid from the abdomen. Also known as paracentesis.


An operation to remove the parts of the peritoneum where the mesothelioma

is growing. The aim is to completely remove the cancer.


The mesothelium (thin membrane)  that lines the walls and organs of the abdomen and pelvis. It has two layers: parietal and visceral.


The mesothelium (thin membrane)

that lines the chest wall and covers the lungs. It has two layers: parietal

and visceral.

pleural cavity

The space between the two layers of pleura, which normally contains a small amount of fluid.







pleural effusion

A collection of excess fluid between the two layers of the pleura that cover the lungs.

pleural fluid

The fluid in the pleural cavity that allows the two layers of the pleura to slide over each other as you breathe. Mesothelioma can cause excess fluid to build up, see pleural effusion. pleural   plaque

An area of fibrous thickening on the pleura. It can be seen on x-rays of some people exposed to asbestos. pleural   tap

A procedure using a needle to drain fluid from around the lungs.

Also known as pleurocentesis or thoracentesis.

pleural thickening

Extensive scarring that thickens the pleura. As the scar tissue grows, it can encase the lung and close off the pleural cavity. Also known as diffuse pleural thickening (DPT).  pleurectomy

Surgical procedure to remove part of the pleura.


An injection of sterile talcum powder into the pleural cavity. This causes inflammation that closes the space and prevents fluid building up again. precancerous

A term used to describe a condition that may or is likely to become cancer. prognosis

The expected outcome of a person’s disease.

pulmonary decortication

Surgical procedure to remove some of the lining of the chest wall and lung to allow the lung to re-expand.


radiation oncologist

A doctor who specialises in treating cancer with radiotherapy.

radical radiotherapy

High-dose radiotherapy aimed at destroying cancer cells that are likely to remain after surgery.

radical surgery

A type of extensive surgery that aims to remove the diseased organ or tumour as well as the blood supply, lymph nodes and, sometimes, attached structures.


The use of radiation, such as x-rays, gamma rays, electron beams or protons, to kill cancer cells or injure them so they cannot grow and multiply. Also called radiation therapy.



A type of mesothelioma. The cells have a growth pattern resembling a malignant tumour arising from fibrous tissue.

second   line   chemotherapy Chemotherapy that is given if standard chemotherapy doesn’t work or the disease comes back.


Performing tests to determine how far a cancer has spread.

systemic treatment

Treatment that affects the whole body.








Relating to the chest (thorax).


Surgery in which a long cut is made in the chest to examine, sample and/or remove a tumour.


A collection of cells of similar type that make up an organ or structure in the body.

TNM system

A type of staging system detailing the extent of the cancer. T stands for tumour, N stands for lymph node and M stands for metastasis. trimodality    therapy

The use of three different types of treatment: chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy.


A new or abnormal growth of tissue on or in the body. A tumour may be benign or malignant.


video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS)

A surgical procedure where a cut is made in the chest and a small video camera with a telescope called a thoracoscope is inserted. Sometimes called keyhole surgery.

visceral peritoneum

The inner layer of peritoneum that lines the surface of the organs in the abdomen and pelvis.

visceral pleura

The inner layer of pleura that lines the surface of the lungs.


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