NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

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The NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms features 7,790 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.

tumor necrosis factor
(TOO-mer neh-KROH-sis FAK-ter)
A protein made by white blood cells in response to an antigen (substance that causes the immune system to make a specific immune response) or infection. Tumor necrosis factor can also be made in the laboratory. It may boost a person’s immune response, and also may cause necrosis (cell death) of some types of tumor cells. Tumor necrosis factor is being studied in the treatment of some types of cancer. It is a type of cytokine. Also called TNF.