NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

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The NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms features 7,800 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.

emphysema
(EMP-fuh-ZEE-muh)
A disorder affecting the alveoli (tiny air sacs) of the lungs. The transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs takes place in the walls of the alveoli. In emphysema, the alveoli become abnormally inflated, damaging their walls and making it harder to breathe. People who smoke or have chronic bronchitis have an increased risk of emphysema. Emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).