Oncology is the study of tumours. A tumour is an abnormal swelling, which consists of
dividing cells that appear to be out of control. There are two types of tumours:
(i) A benign tumour is one that does not infiltrate or metastasise and is unlikely to recur once
removed. Benign tumours are usually surrounded by a fibrous capsule and are described as
encapsulated. These tumours are usually insitu, meaning they are restricted to the area they
started growing and do not invade neighbouring tissue and they do not threaten life.
(ii) A malignant tumour is invasive and destroys the tissues it invades. It can spread to
neighbouring tissues and to more distant sites through the blood and the lymphatic systems. If a
tumour spreads it is said to be metastatic and the spread to other tissues is called metastasis
(plural metastases) or secondaries. The original tumour site is called the primary tumour.
Malignant tumours are also referred to as cancers or carcinomas.
Term or word part Meaning
Carcin Carcin/o Malignant tumour/cancer
Hist Hist/o Tissue
Onc Onc/o Tumour / mass
Papill Papill/o Nipple-like / optic disc
Sarc Fleshy growth / fleshy connective tissue
Sarcoma Sarcomat/o Sarcoma, malignant tumour
-cele Hernia / swelling / protrusion
Condition of growth/formation (increase in
number of cells)
Outer layer of skin and lines hollow organs,
except blood and lymph vessels
The process of tumour formation is also known as neoplasia. The suffix –oma used by itself in
combination with a tissue type, indicates a benign tumour eg, osteoma – benign bone tumour.
Malignant tumours are also designated by –oma but they are usually preceded by the word
Treatment for tumours is either by one or all of the following:
1. Surgery where the tumour and affected tissues are removed
2. Chemotherapy is the treatment of disease using chemicals. Drugs are given to try to shrink
or destroy the tumour. Side effects of chemotherapy may include nausea and alopecia or
3. Radiotherapy is the treatment of disease using ionising radiation. If the tumour tissue is
radiosensitive it will be reduced or destroyed by the radiation. If it is radioresistant it will not
be affected by the radiation. If a tumour is destroyed by radiotherapy it is said to be radio
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Build words which mean
1. Formation of a tumour _______________________________________________________
2. Person who specialises in the study and treatment of tumours _________________________
Write the meaning of:
3. carcinogenic ________________________________________________________________
4. chondrosarcoma _____________________________________________________________
5. meningeal sarcoma ___________________________________________________________
6. haemangiosarcoma __________________________________________________________
BCC Basal cell carcinoma
Ca Cancer / carcinoma
CIS Carcinoma in situ
FS Frozen section
KS Kaposi's sarcoma (found in terminal stages of diseases such as AIDS)
Defines the number of lymph nodes that have been invaded.
N1, N2, N3, N4
Eg. N1 = tumour has spread to one lymph node draining the area.
Indicates presence or absence of metastases and the degree and
M1, M2, M3, M4
SCC Squamous cell carcinoma
SM Simple mastectomy
T0 No evidence of primary tumour
TIS Tumour in situ
Categorizes the primary tumour and its size. Eg t2 = primary tumour is
T1, T2, T3, T4
large and has spread to deeper structures.
Neoplasms (new growths) malignant and benign:
Basal cell carcinoma Commonest form of skin cancer, internal layer of skin, malignant.
(bcc) Slow growing
Malignant melanoma Highly malignant tumour usually occurring in skin, but also found in
(mm) the eye and mucous membranes
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Myeloma Malignant disease of the bone marrow
Naevus Birthmark, mole etc. (benign)
Neoplasm Any new or abnormal growth, benign or malignant
Neoplasm - benign Not invasive or metastatic
Neoplasm - invasive Infiltrates and destroys surrounding tissue
Neoplasm - metastatic Capable of secondary growth distant from primary tumour
Papilloma Benign nipple like growth on the skin
Poly- Many / much
Cancer of the connective tissue, bone fat, muscle, blood and
Malignant tumour, upper layer of skin
carcinoma (scc) -
The extent of malignant disease defined by categories.
Staging Staging defines the size of tumour, its growth and progression at
any one point
Conditions and Terms:
Anaplasia Loss of normal cell characteristics (usually tumour)
Benign tumour Non-invasive tumour, not life threatening
Is term used to describe someone in the late stages of chronic
disease especially cancer. The patient is weak, very thin, the eyes
are sunken, the skin yellowish and pale. A progressive state of
Cancer Malignant tumour, carcinoma, sarcoma
Carcinogen Is a substance that stimulates the formation of a malignant tumour.
Carcinoma Is a malignant tumour of epithelial origin.
Carcinoma in situ Carcinoma that has not spread from its original anatomical location,
(CIS) primary site
Encapsulated Enclosed in a capsule or sheath
Red patches that may signal a malignant change in mucous
Extracapsular Outside of the capsule
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Grow rapidly and produce fungus-like growths. These often occur in
the late stages of malignant tumours.
Hodgkin's disease Malignant disease of lymphatic tissues
White patches that may signal a malignant change in mucous
Malignant tumour Invasive tumour, life threatening
Secondary site, the distant spread of malignant tumours via the
blood or lymphatic system or across body cavities (spread of
(metastases - plural)
Papillary Nipple like or wart like projection of cells
A tumour of the mucous membrane. Polyps are usually pre-
malignant that is, they are likely to become malignant if left to grow.
Primary tumour Original tumour
Remission Subsidence of symptoms of a disease for a long time
Is a malignant tumour of the connective tissue cells that can affect
lymph nodes, skin, liver, spleen, heart, lungs, muscle or bones.
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