NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

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The NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms features 7,777 terms related to cancer and medicine.

Browse the dictionary by selecting a letter of the alphabet or by entering a cancer-related word or phrase in the search box.

mitochondria
(MY-toh-KON-dree-uh)
Small structures in a cell that are found in the cytoplasm (fluid that surrounds the cell nucleus). Mitochondria make most of the energy for the cell and have their own genetic material that is different from the genetic material found in the nucleus. Many diseases are caused by mutations (changes) in the DNA of mitochondria. Mitochondria are cell organelles.

EnlargeDrawing showing a cell containing organelles, including the nucleus (contains DNA), the nucleolus, Golgi complex, mitochondria, and endoplasmic reticulum. Also shown are the cell membrane and a membrane receptor.

Parts of a cell. A cell is surrounded by a membrane, which has receptors on the surface. A cell has several small structures inside it, including the nucleus, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, and Golgi complex. These all have specific functions in the cell.