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 ultra marathon swimmer dedicated her historic achievement to fellow survivors of breast cancer. Time, "American Cancer Survivor Becomes First Person To Swim English Channel 4 Times Non-Stop," 17 Sep. 2019 Eighteen cases of breast cancer were discovered for every 1,000 male breast imaging exams. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, "Male breast cancer screening in high-risk patients extremely successful, study says," 17 Sep. 2019 Skin disease Higher temperatures and the depletion of the ozone layer increase the risk of skin cancer. Emily Holden, Scientific American, "Climate Change Is Having Widespread Health Impacts," 16 Sep. 2019 During the ceremony, Ocasek paid tribute to Orr, who died in 2000 of pancreatic cancer. Andrew Dalton, baltimoresun.com, "Rock star Ric Ocasek of The Cars, a Baltimore native, is dead at 75 from cardiovascular disease," 16 Sep. 2019 During the ceremony, Ocasek paid tribute to Orr, who died in 2000 of pancreatic cancer. Tom Hays And Andrew Dalton, chicagotribune.com, "Rocker Ric Ocasek, frontman of The Cars, dead at 75," 16 Sep. 2019 Karen's daughter Linda died of cancer in 2002.Funeral Services will be held at the Babione Funeral Home in West Boca Raton on Monday September 16, at 5:30PM. sun-sentinel.com, "Deaths in South Florida: 9/16," 16 Sep. 2019 Bulldogs fans wore the color in honor of ASU coach Blake Anderson’s late wife Wendy, who passed last month of breast cancer. 2. Ross Dellenger, SI.com, "The Rundown: A Week 3 Light on Flashy Matchups Still Manages to Deliver," 15 Sep. 2019 The Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam was dying of cancer, Ross said. CBS News, "Vietnam vet dies after being found covered in ants at Georgia VA home, daughter says," 13 Sep. 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

9 Oct 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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