pre·​can·​cer·​ous (ˌ)prē-ˈkan(t)s-rəs How to pronounce precancerous (audio)
: tending to become cancerous
a precancerous lesion

Examples of precancerous in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Left untreated, precancerous cells may progress to cancer. Benjamin Ryan, NBC News, 17 Apr. 2023 The colonoscopy might be approved for coverage initially, and then coverage is reversed when precancerous polyps are found. Taayoo Murray,, 9 Dec. 2021 When found in either the uterus or cervix, precancerous and cancerous cells can cause irregular bleeding. Women's Health, 23 Aug. 2023 At 24, after several unsuccessful medication courses, a colonoscopy revealed that Brown had precancerous tissue deep in her colon. Maressa Brown, SELF, 18 Aug. 2023 Dan Worthley, a gastroenterologist and cancer scientist at Colonoscopy Clinic in Brisbane, Australia, does thousands of colonoscopies a year, seeking and destroying precancerous polyps. Angus Chen, STAT, 10 Aug. 2023 The former can become scaly, dry, blister or flake, and lead to precancerous actinic keratosis while the latter can fade in color, dehydrate or become damaged and brittle. Scott Lafee, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 July 2023 After surveying 800 people being screened for the disease or undergoing colonoscopies, scientists found that those with advanced colon polyps — a clump of precancerous cells that form on the lining of your colon or rectum — reported eating fewer Mediterranean diet foods and more red meat. Cori Ritchey, Men's Health, 20 Dec. 2022 Colonoscopies allow doctors to examine the colon and remove precancerous growths, which can prevent cancer from forming. Aria Bendix, NBC News, 6 Dec. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'precancerous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


International Scientific Vocabulary

First Known Use

1879, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of precancerous was in 1879

Dictionary Entries Near precancerous

Cite this Entry

“Precancerous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Medical Definition


pre·​can·​cer·​ous -ˈkan(t)s-(ə-)rəs How to pronounce precancerous (audio)
: tending to become cancerous : premalignant
a precancerous lesion
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!