Medical Terminology for Cancer

© Copyright 1996-2013

11: The Respiratory System (Breathing)

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Functions of the Respiratory System
The flow of air from the nose to the lungs
Roots, suffixes, and prefixes
Cancer Focus
Related Abbreviations and Acronyms
Further Resources

Functions of the Respiratory System

The main role of the Respiratory System is the inhalation of fresh oxygen (O2) needed by the body's cells and the exhalation of waste carbon dioxide (CO2). It also helps maintain body temperature and eliminate excess water from the body. The Respiratory system is dependent on the proper functioning of the circulatory system as the O2 and waste CO2 are carried in the blood stream.

The flow of air from the nose to the lungs

Human respiratory system-NIH
The nose
is a PASSAGEWAY FOR AIR and is also a sensory organ. It warms and moistens air, and hair like processes (cilia) filter the air before it reaches the lungs.
The pharynx
or "throat" is a funnel shaped tube acting as a passage way for air and food. The lowest portion of the pharynx joins the esophagus (food tube).
The larynx
or "voice box" is lined with mucous membrane, two folds of membrane divide the larynx in two, between these is the GLOTTIS which is the narrowest part of the air passage. The glottis is protected by a lid of fibro cartilage (the EPIGLOTTIS), this closes over the glottis when you swallow.
The trachea
or "windpipe" is a tube composed of cartilage and lined with mucus membrane lying in front of the esophagus. The trachea diverges into the right and left bronchi.
The bronchi
are "C" shaped rings of cartilage lined with ciliated mucus membrane that 'sweeps' out dust particles. The bronchi branch into SECONDARY BRONCHI as they enter the lungs, these further divide into BRONCHIOLES. As the secondary bronchi and bronchioles divide the walls become thinner and more elastic, branching into minute ALVEOLI which transfer gases in the lungs.
The lungs
are the main organ of respiration. In the lungs millions of ALVEOLI and blood Capillaries exchange Oxygen and carbon dioxide. Each lung is housed in a separate PLEURAL CAVITY (which in turn are located in the larger THORACIC CAVITY). PLEURA are SACS of membrane that line the pleural cavity to lessen friction caused by breathing.
The diaphragm
is the main muscle of respiration located at the base of the thoracic cavity. The muscle contracts and flattens so that the thorax and lungs have room for incoming air causing you to INHALE, it then relaxes causing you to EXHALE.

Roots, suffixes, and prefixes

Most medical terms are comprised of a root word plus a suffix (word ending) and/or a prefix (beginning of the word). Here are some examples related to the Respiratory System. For more details see Chapter 4: Understanding the Components of Medical Terminology

A-lack of anosmia = lack of the sense of smell
PNEA-breath dyspnea = difficult or painful breathing
BRONCH-bronchi Bronchoscope = instrument to examine the bronchi
LARYNG-larynx laryngitis = inflammation of the larynx
PULMO-lung pulmonary metastases = lung secondaries
PNEUM-lung / Air pneumonia = severe infection of the lungs
RHINO-nose rhinoplasty = cosmetic surgery, a 'nose job'

Cancer Focus

Lung Cancer Overview
Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. The lungs are a pair of cone-shaped organs situated inside the chest, they bring oxygen into the body and take out waste carbon dioxide. There is a strong link between smoking and lung cancer. There are two main categories of lung cancer; Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) , and Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC). World-wide over 1 million people are diagnosed with lung cancer each year.

Internet Resources for Lung Cancer
Small Cell Lung Cancer
Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) accounts for one quarter of all lung cancers. SCLC is also known as "oat cell" carcinoma because of the shape of the cancer cells.

Internet Resources for Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for about three quarters of all lung cancers. Included in the NSCLC group of cancers are a) Squamous cell, or epidermoid, cancer which arises from cells that line the airways - this is the most common type of lung cancer; b) Adenocarcinoma which arises in the mucus-producing cells that line the upper airways; and c) Large cell carcinoma.

Internet Resources for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)
Causes of Lung Cancer
It is estimated that about 85% of lung cancers are caused by smoking, it is usually found in people who smoke or who used to smoke cigarettes. Lung cancer is also associated with passive smoking and exposure to radon (a radioactive gas).

Internet Resources for Smoking
Head and Neck Cancer
Head and neck cancers are malignancies arising in the upper aerodigestive tract (this includes: lip, tongue, salivary glands, mouth, oropharynx, nasopharynx, hypopharynx, nasal cavity, and larynx). Laryngeal (voice-box) cancer is the most frequent type, accounting for about a quarter of head and neck cancers.

Internet Resources for Head and Neck Cancer
Laryngeal Cancer
Laryngeal cancer is a malignancy arising in the tissues of the larynx (voicebox). People who smoke have a higher risk of developing the disaese. Most laryngeal cancers are of squamous cell histology, these can be categorised as either keratinizing or non-keratinizing. There are a variety of other non-squamous cell laryngeal cancers.

Internet Resources for Laryngeal Cancer
Nasal, Paranasal, and Nasopharynx Cancer
Internet Resources for Nasal Cancer
Oral cavity, Lip, Salivary gland Cancer
Internet Resources for Oral cavity Cancer

Related Abbreviations and Acronyms

ENTEar nose throat
FEVForced expectorant volume (a lung test)
IASLCInternational Association for the Study of Lung Cancer
NSCLCNon-small cell lung cancer
SCLCSmall cell lung cancer
SPOHNCSupport for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer
URTIUpper respiratory tract infection
VEFVentricular ejection fraction (tests lung function)

Further Resources (3 links)

Main Contents of this Guide Alphabetical Index Next Chapter: Endocrine System

This guide by Simon Cotterill

First created 4th March 1996
Last modified: 1st February 2014

Medical Terminology for Cancer

What is Cancer?
Basic Terms
Components of Terminology

Body Systems

© 1996-2013