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Mesothelioma Definitions starting with "B"

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Mesothelioma Definitions

July 1, 2008

Mesothelioma Definitions starting with "B"

Background Level

The average or expected amount of a substance in a specific environment.


The presence of bacteria in the blood.

Balance Billing

Billing a patient for charges not paid by their insurance plan because the charges are above the Usual and Customary Rate or because the insurer considered a procedure medically unnecessary.


A class of drugs (e.g., phenobarbital) that have sedative properties and depress respiratory rate, blood pressure and nervous system activity.

Barium Enema

(Also called a double contrast barium enema) A method used to help diagnose colorectal cancer. Barium sulfate, a chalky substance, is used to partially fill and open up the colon. When the colon is about half-full of barium, air is inserted to cause the colon to expand. This allows good x-ray films to be taken.

Barium Swallow

The use of a milky solution (barium sulfate) given orally to allow x-ray examination of the upper intestinal tract.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

The most common non-melanoma skin cancer. It begins in the lowest layer of the epidermis, called the basal cell layer. It usually develops on sun-exposed areas, especially the head and neck. Basal cell cancer is slow-growing and is not likely to spread to distant parts of the body.


Pertaining to the base part of an organ.


A known value (e.g., baseline CD4 cell count) to which later measurements can be compared.

Baseline Test

Test which measures an organ's normal level of functioning. Used to determine if any changes in organ function occur following treatment.


A type of white blood cell (granulocyte) that releases chemicals in allergic reactions; basophils that leave the bloodstream become mast cells in the tissues.

B-Cell (B-Lymphocyte)

An immune system cell that carries out the humoral (Th2) immune response. B-cells are produced in the bone marrow and mature into plasma cells that produce antibodies.


A non-cancerous growth that does not present a danger to other tissues; not malignant.

Benign Growth

A swelling or growth that is not cancerous and does not spread from one part of the body to another.

Benign Pleural Effusion

Nonmalignant effusion, a clear viscous serofibrinous fluid (occasionally bloody), found in the pleural cavity. It is often accompanied by pleural thickening.

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or BPH

Non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate that may cause problems with urination such as trouble starting and stopping the flow.

Benign Tumor

An abnormal growth that is not cancer and does not spread to other areas of the body.


The removal of cells or tissues for examination under a microscope. When only a sample of tissue is removed, the procedure is called an incisional biopsy or core biopsy. When an entire lump or suspicious area is removed, the procedure is called an excisional biopsy. When a sample of tissue or fluid is removed with a needle, the procedure is called a needle biopsy or fine-needle aspiration. Pleural biopsies are used to make the diagnosis of mesothelioma.


On both sides of the body; for example, bilateral breast cancer is cancer in both breasts.

Bilateral Pleural Thickening

Thickening of the pleura of both sides of the lungs.


A pigment produced when the liver processes waste products. A high bilirubin level causes yellowing of the skin.


The extent to which a substance (e.g., a drug) is absorbed and circulated in the body.

Biologic Response Modifiers

Substances that boost the body's immune system to fight against cancer; interferon is one example. Also called biologic therapy.

Biologic Therapy

Treatment that stimulates the body's immune defense system to fight infection and disease. Also called immunotherapy. Some doctors consider this a type of chemotherapy, but it is usually classified as a separate type of treatment.


A protein or compound easily detectable in the body that indicates an exposure has occurred.


A type of mesothelioma that has both epithelial and sarcomatoid elements. Also called a mixed mesothelioma.

Blast cell

Immature cell.


An air-containing space seldom exceeding 1-2 cm., subpleural and most frequently developing over lung apices. Development of blebs has been attributed to dissection of air over a ruptured alveolus, where it accumulates in the visceral pleura in the form of a cyst. Blebs basically represent paraseptal emphysema and are usually regarded as the major cause of spontaneous pneumothorax.


The familiar red fluid in the body that contains white and red blood cells, platelets, proteins, and other elements. The blood is transported throughout the body by the circulatory system. Blood functions in two directions arterial and venous. Arterial blood is the means by which oxygen and nutrients are transported to tissues while venous blood is the means by which carbon dioxide and metabolic by-products are transported to the lungs and kidneys, respectively, for removal from the body.

Blood-Brain Barrier

A barrier between the blood vessels and the brain that is selectively permeable, i.e., allows only certain substances to pass through.

Blood Cells

Minute structures produced in the bone marrow; they consist of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Blood Count

The number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in a sample of blood.

Body Cell Mass

Muscle and organ tissue.

Bone Marrow

The spongy material found inside the bones. Most blood cells are created in the bone marrow.

Bone Marrow Aspiration

Procedure used to remove a sample of bone marrow, usually from the rear hip bone, for examination under the microscope.

Bone Marrow Aspiration And Biopsy

A procedure in which a needle is placed into the cavity of a bone, usually the hip or breast bone, to remove a small amount of bone marrow for examination under a microscope.

Bone Marrow Biopsy And Aspiration

The procedure by which a needle is inserted into a bone to withdraw a sample of bone marrow.

Bone Marrow Suppression

A decrease in the production of blood cells. Bone marrow suppression is a side effect of chemotherapy treatment in come cases

Bone Marrow Transplant

A complex treatment that may be used when cancer is advanced or has recurred, or as the main treatment in some types of leukemia. The bone marrow transplant makes it possible to use very high doses of chemotherapy that would otherwise be impossible. Autologous bone marrow transplant means that the patient's own bone marrow is used. An allogeneic bone marrow transplant uses marrow from a donor whose tissue type closely matches the patient's. For leukemia, the patient usually as an allogenic transplant.When used for advanced or recurrent cancer, a portion of the patient's or donor's bone marrow is withdrawn, cleansed, treated, and stored. Then the patient is given high doses of chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells. But the drugs also destroy the remaining bone marrow, thus robbing the body of its natural ability to fight infection. The cleansed and stored marrow is given by transfusion (transplanted) to rescue the patient's immune defenses. It is a risky procedure that involves a lengthy and expensive hospital stay that may not be covered by the patient's health insurance. The best place to have a bone marrow transplant is at a comprehensive cancer center or other facility that has the technical skill and experience to perform it safely.

Bone Scan

An imaging method that gives important information about the bones, including the location of cancer that may have spread to the bones. It can be done on an outpatient basis and is painless, except for the needle stick when a low-dose radioactive substance is injected into a vein. Pictures are taken to see where the radioactivity collects, pointing to an abnormality.

Bone Survey (Skeletal)

An x-ray of all the bones of the body; often done when looking for metastasis to the bones.


One of the earliest forms of cancer treatment, brachytherapy involves the insertion of small tube-like seeds that contain a dose of radiation into or directly next to a tumor. This has largely been replaced by external radiation therapy but is still a common treatment for prostate cancer.

Brain Scan

An imaging method used to find anything not normal in the brain, including brain cancer and cancer that has spread to the brain from other places in the body. This scan can be done in an outpatient clinic. It is painless, except for the needle stick when a radioactive substance is injected into a vein. The pictures taken will show where radioactivity collects, indicating an abnormality.

Branched-Chain DNA Assay (BDNA)

An assay for measuring the amount of virus (viral load) in blood plasma or tissue.

Breach of Warranty

A legal theory, most often associated with buying goods and services, that says that a party should pay for promising that a product or service would contain certain things, perform a certain way, or was safe for use when it did not perform as promised.

Breakthrough Pain

Acute periods of pain that come on rapidly despite the use of pain medication. May occur spontaneously or during a specific physical activity. The pain "breaks through" the normal control.


A person certified by NIOSH as qualified to interpret chest x-rays especially for dust disease, including asbestos disease.

Breast Self-Examination (BSE)

A manual self-examination of the breasts.

Brigham System (Variables of Tumor Resectability and Nodal Status)

Stage I Resectable mesothelioma and no lymph node involvement. Stage II Resectable mesothelioma but with lymph node involvement. Stage III Unresectable mesothelioma extending into chest wall, heart, or through diaphragm, peritoneum; with or without extrathoracic lymph node involvement. Stage IV Distant metastatic disease


In the lungs, the two main air passages leading from the windpipe (trachea). The bronchi provide a passage for air to move in and out of the lungs.


A chronic inflammatory or degenerative condition of one or more bronchi or bronchioles, marked by dilation or loss of elasticity of the chest walls.


Oone of the smaller sub-divisions of the bronchi. Bronchiole is a small division of a bronchus.


Inflammation of the bronchial tubes.

Bronchogenic Carcinoma

A primary malignant tumor originating in the bronchus of a lung.

Bronchopleural Fistula

A complication after extrapleural pneumonectomy in which there is a leakage of air from the closed bronchial tube.


A bronchoscope is a flexible, lighted tube that is inserted through the mouth into the lungs to examine air passages. The procedure itself is called a bronchoscopy.


Examination of the bronchi using a flexible, lighted tube called a bronchoscope. A procedure in which a thin, lighted tube is inserted through the nose or mouth. This allows examination of the inside of the trachea and bronchi (air passages that lead to the lung), as well as the lung. Bronchoscopy may be used to detect cancer or to perform some treatment procedures.


One of the two terminal divisions of the trachea, each of which carries air to one lung.


Intrapulmonary structures usually attributed to excessive rupture of alveolar walls. They appear to affect upper and lower lobes equally and may develop in the absence of generalized emphysema. Their walls are composed of compressed parenchymal tissue and strands of emphysematous lung.

Butchart Staging System

The staging system most often used for mesothelioma. It is divided into stages I-IV with the levels determined by the tissue involved

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