NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

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The NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms features 7,846 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.

A small structure in a cell that is surrounded by a membrane and has a specific function. Examples of organelles are the nucleus (a structure that contains the cell’s chromosomes and is where RNA is made), mitochondria (structures that make energy for the cell), and lysosomes (sac-like containers filled with enzymes that digest and help recycle molecules in the cell).

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.