NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

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The NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms features 7,798 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.

natural killer cell
(NA-chuh-rul KIH-ler sel)
A type of immune cell that has granules (small particles) with enzymes that can kill tumor cells or cells infected with a virus. A natural killer cell is a type of white blood cell. Also called NK cell and NK-LGL.

EnlargeBlood cell development; drawing shows the steps a blood stem cell goes through to become a red blood cell, platelet, or white blood cell. A myeloid stem cell becomes a red blood cell, a platelet, or a myeloblast, which then becomes a granulocyte (the types of granulocytes are eosinophils, basophils, and neutrophils). A lymphoid stem cell becomes a lymphoblast and then becomes a B-lymphocyte, T-lymphocyte, or natural killer cell.

Blood cell development. A blood stem cell goes through several steps to become a red blood cell, platelet, or white blood cell.