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The ALK+ NSCLC jargon buster


When talking to your doctor or reading information online, you may come across words you’re unfamiliar with. This jargon buster provides some definitions to help you better understand these words.

ALK is a gene needed to make something called the ‘ALK receptor’, which is responsible for transmitting information between cells in your body.

ALK+ (or ALK-positive) means that your cancer includes a version of the ALK gene which has undergone a change, meaning the ALK receptor works in a different way.

A biopsy involves taking a piece of cancer out of the body to be analysed.

A type of scan that uses injectable tracers to find abnormal areas of bone in the body.

When cells multiply rapidly without control. These cells can form tumours which can affect how the body works.

A type of cancer that forms in the skin or in the lining that covers internal organs.

Cells make up organs in our bodies and carry out many important processes. When a cell loses its ability to control its growth, it can become cancerous.

A type of cancer medicine that works by killing tumour cells.

A system that controls most functions of the body and mind. It includes the brain and the spinal cord.

A type of scan that takes a series of X-rays, which build up a 3D picture of the inside of the body.

DNA is short for deoxyribonucleic acid. It holds all the information for all of our cells within the body, and is essential for life.

A gene is made up of DNA. Each gene contains a certain set of instructions for our bodies to produce certain proteins.

Cancer that has spread into another part of the body.

The act of tumours spreading. When a tumour has metastasised, it has spread to another part of the body.

A type of scan that uses magnetism and radio waves to create a detailed picture of the body.

There are two types of lung cancer: small cell and non-small cell. NSCLC is the most common type.

A doctor who specialises in cancer. Oncologists often specialise in certain types of cancer.

Palliative, or supportive, care is designed to help manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life of those with serious illness. While it does cover support for end of life, it is not limited to this.

A type of scan that uses a small amount of radioactivity to help visualise the inside of the body.

A type of cancer therapy that uses x-rays to treat tumour cells.

An unwanted effect that treatment has on the body.

An abnormal mass of cells (which may be cancerous, or not).

A type of scan that uses high frequency sound waves to visualise what is inside the body.