cancer

noun
can·​cer | \ ˈkan(t)-sər How to pronounce cancer (audio) \

Definition of cancer

1 capitalized

a : a northern zodiacal constellation between Gemini and Leo
b(1) : the fourth sign of the zodiac in astrology — see Signs of the Zodiac Table
(2) : one born under the sign of Cancer I'm a Taurus, but my best friend is a Cancer.

2 [ Latin, crab, cancer ]

a : a malignant tumor of potentially unlimited growth that expands locally by invasion and systemically by metastasis
b : an abnormal bodily state marked by such tumors
3 : something evil or malignant that spreads destructively the cancer of hidden resentmentIrish Digest
4a : an enlarged tumorlike plant growth (such as that of crown gall)
b : a plant disease marked by such growths

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Other Words from cancer

cancerous \ ˈkan(t)s-​rəs How to pronounce cancerous (audio) , ˈkan(t)-​sə-​ \ adjective
cancerously adverb

Did You Know?

The Latin word cancer, meaning “crab,” was also given as a name to several diseases. One of the diseases was the abnormal, spreading mass of tissue we call a tumor. A possible explanation for this extended use of cancer is that the Romans thought some tumors looked like many-legged crabs. A French descendant of this Latin word was borrowed into English as canker. It is now applied to several plant and animal disorders. In the 14th century the Latin word cancer in the sense of “tumor” was borrowed directly into English, giving us our modern spelling and sense.

Examples of cancer in a Sentence

He was diagnosed with cancer. She learned that she has cancer. Eating certain foods may help reduce the risk of cancer. Advanced cancers are more difficult to treat. I'm a Taurus, but my best friend is a Cancer.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The new patient, described in a Nature article published Tuesday, received a bone marrow transplant in 2016 as a treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "A Patient with HIV Has Gone Into Remission—Only the Second Case in Recorded Medical History," 6 Mar. 2019 The cancer, already at Stage 4, had metastasized to her sacrum, a bone at the base of her spine. Marie Milano, Country Living, "Who Is Olivia Newton-John's Daughter, Chloe Lattanzi?," 16 Feb. 2019 Tessa, the daughter of Nicole's lead contractor Bobby Prothero, lost her battle to cancer in 2017. Maya Mcdowell, House Beautiful, "HGTV's Nicole Curtis Cut Over a Foot of Her Hair to Create Wigs for Children With Hair Loss," 11 Feb. 2019 When asked about the safety of the chemical, Barshop referred me to a number of studies refuting the assertion that hydroquinone is linked to cancer in humans or exceptionally high rates of ochronosis. E.j. Dickson, Vox, "The dangerous rise of vaginal lightening," 6 Dec. 2018 The feud ended when Keith's band member lost a two-year-old daughter to cancer. Sasha Savitsky, Fox News, "Country music's biggest feuds," 14 Sep. 2018 Johnson & Johnson has consistently denied that its products can be linked to the cancer. USA TODAY, "Nearly $4.7 billion awarded in Johnson & Johnson baby powder lawsuit," 12 July 2018 But by then Dave Jones was gone, having succumbed to cancer at age 53. Edgar Thompson, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Emotion-filled 22-year-old Erik Jones captures chaotic Coke Zero Sugar 400," 9 July 2018 Now, six years later, the house-flipping TV star is officially cancer free. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Flip or Flop Star Tarek El Moussa Is Officially Cancer Free Six Years After His Diagnosis," 18 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cancer.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cancer

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for cancer

Middle English, from Latin (genitive Cancri), literally, crab; akin to Greek karkinos crab, cancer

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Statistics for cancer

Last Updated

10 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cancer

The first known use of cancer was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for cancer

cancer

noun

English Language Learners Definition of cancer

: a serious disease caused by cells that are not normal and that can spread to one or many parts of the body
: something bad or dangerous that causes other bad things to happen
: the fourth sign of the zodiac that comes between Gemini and Leo and has a crab as its symbol

cancer

noun
can·​cer | \ ˈkan-sər How to pronounce cancer (audio) \

Kids Definition of cancer

: a serious sometimes deadly disease characterized by the growth of abnormal cells that form tumors which may damage or destroy normal body tissue

cancer

noun
can·​cer | \ ˈkan(t)-sər How to pronounce cancer (audio) \

Medical Definition of cancer

1 : a malignant tumor of potentially unlimited growth that expands locally by invasion and systemically by metastasis
2 : an abnormal state marked by a cancer

Other Words from cancer

cancerous \ ˈkan(t)s-​(ə-​)rəs How to pronounce cancerous (audio) \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on cancer

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cancer

Spanish Central: Translation of cancer

Nglish: Translation of cancer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cancer for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about cancer

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