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

Chip was inspired to start his and wife Joanna's Silo District Marathon in 2018 after meeting Gabe Grunewald, a professional runner with a rare cancer called cystic carcinoma. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Chip Gaines Was Recently ‘20 Pounds Overweight.' Here's How He Got Fit," 12 May 2019 Just how negativity can be a cancer, positivity is the same way. Maya Allen, Marie Claire, "How Sarah Hyland Found Self-Confidence and Self-Love," 9 May 2019 The piece, which gained traction online and was recently covered by other news outlets, had some questioning: Do AirPods actually cause cancer? Nicole Saunders, Harper's BAZAAR, "Can AirPods and Other Wireless Headphones Really Cause Cancer?," 17 Mar. 2019 Learning that the child was sick with the cancer that had taken Robin, Bush began to cry. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Jon Meacham's Eulogy for George H.W. Bush: Read What the President's Biographer Had to Say," 5 Dec. 2018 The rare cancer attacked his temporal bone, cranial nerve and inner ear. Makayla Tendall, ajc, "'See ya later, suckas!': Family writes unique obituary for 5-year-old cancer victim," 13 July 2018 Several studies have suggested the presence of formaldehyde, a dangerous chemical known to cause cancer in humans. Ahmed Elbenni, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Ban on e-cigarettes in Milwaukee takes effect -- what you need to know," 10 July 2018 This has provoked the wrath of the president. Mr. Erdogan has claimed that inflation is actually the result of high interest rates, which is not unlike asserting that chemotherapy causes cancer. New York Times, "Turkey’s Economy Is So Hot That It May Face a Meltdown," 10 July 2018 According to the National Pesticide Information Center, permethrin is not known to cause cancer or affect hormone systems. Scott Dance, baltimoresun.com, "Dealing with more bug bites than usual? Mosquitos are at 3 times their normal number in Maryland this summer.," 5 July 2018

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

22 May 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

Comments on cancer

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