Color and Oncology


You will learn words in later chapters that use color to describe a cell, a structure, or a disease state. Here are the combining forms for these colors.

chrom/o: color, colored

chlor/o: green

cyan/o: blue

erythr/o: red

leuk/o: white

melan/o: black

xanth/o: yellow



You will learn terms in later chapters for various types of tumors and cancers. These are examples of neoplasms, or newly grown tissue in the body.

A tumor or cancer is classified as benign (noncancerous, or remaining within the tissue in which it developed) or malignant (cancerous, or capable of spreading to other tissues). Benign tumors don’t always cause major health problems, but if they compress other tissue, nerves, or blood vessels, the patient may choose to get them surgically removed. Some benign tumors are considered precancerous and may develop into malignant tumors eventually, but this is not often the case. When a malignant tumor has spread to other tissues or organs, it is said to have metastasized.

A tumor or cancer is named after the type of tissue in which it originated and whether it is benign or malignant.

Word Roots

cancer/o, carcin/o: cancer

onc/o: tumor, mass


-oma: tumor, swelling (noun); when used alone, it typically refers to a benign tumor

-carcinoma: malignant tumor that originates in epithelium (noun)

-plasia: process of formation/growth (noun)

-plasm: substance, formation, growth, something that has grown (noun)

-sarcoma: malignant tumor of bone, blood vessels, cartilage, nerves, muscles, fat, joints, tendons, and ligaments (noun)

Disease and Disorder Oncology Terms

adenocarcinoma: malignant tumor of glandular tissue

adenoma: benign tumor of glandular tissue

epithelioma: tumor composed of epithelial tissue

fibroma: benign tumor composed of fibrous tissue

fibrosarcoma: malignant tumor composed of fibrous tissue

lipoma: benign tumor composed of adipose tissue

liposarcoma: malignant tumor composed of adipose tissue

myoma: benign tumor composed of muscle tissue

myosarcoma: malignant tumor composed of muscle tissue

neoplasm: literally “new growth”; used to describe growth of abnormal tissue, either benign or malignant

neuroma: benign tumor composed of nerve tissue

neurosarcoma: malignant tumor composed of nerve tissue

Career Terms

oncologist: a physician who specializes in diagnosing, treating, and studying tumors and cancers

oncology: the study of tumors and cancers


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Medical Terminology: An Interactive Approach Copyright © 2022 by LOUIS: The Louisiana Library Network is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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