Body Structure, Color, and Oncology

Learning Objectives

  • Connect medical language learning to the context of anatomy and physiology
  • Introduce the basic architecture and levels of organization of the human body
  • Describe body cavities and the functions of associated membranes
  • Define and spell word parts related to color
  • Define and spell word parts related to oncology


As you memorize the language components of medical terminology, it is important to support that learning within the context of anatomy and physiology. Proceeding through the body system chapters, you will learn word parts, whole medical terms, and common abbreviations. It is important to put into context where in the body the medical term is referencing and then consider how it works within the body.

Anatomy focuses on structure, and physiology focuses on function. Much of the study of physiology centers on the body’s tendency toward homeostasis.

Consider the structures of the body in terms of fundamental levels of organization that increase in complexity: subatomic particles, atoms, molecules, organelles, cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, and organisms (Figure 3.1).

Levels of structural organization of the human body. Image description available.
Figure 3.1 Levels of Structural Organization of the Human Body. The organization of the body often is discussed in terms of six distinct levels of increasing complexity, from the smallest chemical building blocks to a unique human organism. From Betts, et al., 2013. Licensed under CC BY 4.0. [Image description.]


Image Description

Figure 3.1 image description: This illustration shows biological organization as a pyramid. The chemical level is at the apex of the pyramid where atoms bond to form molecules with three-dimensional structures. An example is shown with two white hydrogen atoms bonding to a red oxygen atom to create water. The next level down on the pyramid is the cellular level, as illustrated with a long, tapered, smooth muscle cell. At this level, a variety of molecules combine to form the interior fluid and organelles of a body cell. The next level down is the tissue level. A community of similar cells forms body tissue. The example given here is a section of smooth muscle tissue, which contains many smooth muscle cells closely bound side by side. The next level down is the organ level, as illustrated with the bladder and urethra. The bladder contains smooth muscle while the urethra contains skeletal muscle. These are both examples of muscle tissues. The next level down is the organ system level, as illustrated by the entire urinary system containing the kidney, ureters, bladder, and urethra. At this level, two or more organs work closely together to perform the functions of a body system. At the base of the pyramid is the organismal level illustrated with a woman drinking water. At this level, many organ systems work harmoniously together to perform the functions of an independent organism. [Return to Figure 3.1].


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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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