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NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms


thymocyte  listen  (THY-moh-site)

  A type of white blood cell. Thymocytes are part of the immune system and develop from stem cells in the bone marrow. They help protect the body from infection and may help fight cancer. Also called T cell and T lymphocyte.

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Blood cell development; drawing shows the steps a blood stem cell goes through to become a red blood cell, platelet, or white blood cell. A myeloid stem cell becomes a red blood cell, a platelet, or a myeloblast, which then becomes a granulocyte (the types of granulocytes are eosinophils, basophils, and neutrophils). A lymphoid stem cell becomes a lymphoblast and then becomes a B-lymphocyte, T-lymphocyte, or natural killer cell.