NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

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The NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms features 7,804 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.

telomerase
(teh-LOH-meh-rays)
An enzyme in cells that helps keep them alive by adding DNA to telomeres (the ends of chromosomes). Each time a cell divides, the telomeres lose a small amount of DNA and become shorter. Over time, the chromosomes become damaged and the cells die. Telomerase helps keep this from happening. Cancer cells usually have more telomerase than most normal cells.