cancer

[kan-ser]
noun
1.
Pathology.
a.
a malignant and invasive growth or tumor, especially one originating in epithelium, tending to recur after excision and to metastasize to other sites.
b.
any disease characterized by such growths.
2.
any evil condition or thing that spreads destructively; blight.
3.
genitive Cancri [kang-kree] . (initial capital letter) Astronomy. the crab, a zodiacal constellation between Gemini and Leo.
4.
(initial capital letter) Astrology.
a.
the fourth sign of the zodiac: the cardinal water sign. See illus. under zodiac.
b.
a person born under this sign, usually between June 21 and July 22.
5.
(initial capital letter) See under tropic ( def 1a ).

Origin:
1350–1400; Middle English < Latin: literally, crab; Latin stem cancr-, dissimilated from *carcr-, with *carc-r- akin to Greek karkínos, Sanskrit karkata crab; see canker

cancerous, adjective
cancered, adjective
cancerously, adverb
cancerousness, noun
noncancerous, adjective
uncancerous, adjective


2. sickness, evil, plague, scourge.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
cancer (ˈkænsə)
 
n
1.  any type of malignant growth or tumour, caused by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division: it may spread through the lymphatic system or blood stream to other parts of the body
2.  the condition resulting from this
3.  an evil influence that spreads dangerously
 
Related: carcino-
 
[C14: from Latin: crab, a creeping tumour; related to Greek karkinos crab, Sanskrit karkata]
 
'cancerous
 
adj
 
'cancerously
 
adv

Cancer (ˈkænsə, kænˈsɪərɪən)
 
n , Latin genitive Cancri
1.  astronomy a small faint zodiacal constellation in the N hemisphere, lying between Gemini and Leo on the ecliptic and containing the star cluster Praesepe
2.  astrology
 a.  Also called: the Crab the fourth sign of the zodiac, symbol ♋, having a cardinal water classification and ruled by the moon. The sun is in this sign between about June 21 and July 22
 b.  Also called: Moonchild a person born during a period when the sun is in this sign
3.  tropic of Cancer See tropic
 
adj
4.  astrology born under or characteristic of Cancer

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

cancer
O.E. cancer "spreading sore, cancer" (also canceradl), from L. cancer "a crab," later, "malignant tumor," from Gk. karkinos, which, like the Mod.Eng. word, has three meanings: crab, tumor, and the zodiac constellation (late 14c. in English), from PIE base *qarq- "to be hard" (like the shell of a crab);
cf. Skt. karkatah "crab," karkarah "hard;" and perhaps cognate with PIE base *qar-tu- "hard, strong," source of English hard. Greek physician Galen, among others, noted similarity of crabs to some tumors with swollen veins. Meaning "person born under the zodiac sign of Cancer" is from 1894. The sun being in Cancer at the summer solstice, the constellation had association in L. writers with the south and with summer heat. Cancer stick "cigarette" is from 1959.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

cancer can·cer (kān'sər)
n.


  1. Abbr. CA Any of various malignant neoplasms characterized by the proliferation of anaplastic cells that tend to invade surrounding tissue and metastasize to new body sites.

  2. The pathological condition characterized by such growths.


can'cer·ous (kān'sər-əs) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
cancer   (kān'sər)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. A disease characterized by any of various malignant neoplasms composed of abnormal cells that tend to proliferate rapidly and invade surrounding tissue. Without treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation, cancer cells can metastasize to other body sites and cause organ failure and death.

  2. A malignant tumor.


Our Living Language  : The human immune system often fights off stray cancer cells just as it does bacteria and viruses. However, when cancer cells establish themselves in the body with their own blood supply and begin replicating out of control, cancer becomes a threatening neoplasm, or tumor. It takes a minimum of one billion cancer cells for a neoplasm to be detectable by conventional radiology and physical examinations. Cancer, which represents more than 100 separate diseases, destroys tissues and organs through invasive growth in a particular part of the body and by metastasizing to distant tissues and organs through the bloodstream or lymph system. Heredity, lifestyle habits (such as smoking), and a person's exposure to certain viruses, toxic chemicals, and excessive radiation can trigger genetic changes that affect cell growth. The altered genes, or oncogenes, direct cells to multiply abnormally, thereby taking on the aggressive and destructive characteristics of cancer. Treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are effective with many cancers, but they also end up killing healthy cells. Gene therapy attempts to correct the faulty DNA that causes the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells. Researchers are investigating other treatments, such as immunotherapy (the stimulation of the body's natural defenses), vectorization (aiming chemicals specifically at cancer cells), and nanotechnology (targeting cancer cells with minute objects the size of atoms).
Cancer  
A faint constellation in the Northern Hemisphere near Leo and Gemini. Cancer (the Crab) is the fourth sign of the zodiac.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

cancer definition


A disease characterized by rapid growth of cells in the body, often in the form of a tumor. Cancer is invasive — that is, it can spread to surrounding tissues. Although this disease is a leading cause of death in the United States, research has provided considerable insight into its many causes (which may include diet, viruses, or environmental factors) and options for treatment (which include radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and possibly gene therapy).

Note: The term cancer is often used to describe a nonmedical condition that is undesirable, destructive, and invasive: “Watergate was a cancer on the presidency.”
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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