A laboratory method used to make many copies of a specific piece of DNA from a sample that contains very tiny amounts of that DNA. PCR allows these pieces of DNA to be amplified so they can be detected. PCR may be used to look for certain changes in a gene or chromosome, which may help find and diagnose a genetic condition or a disease, such as cancer. It may also be used to look at pieces of the DNA of certain bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms to help diagnose an infection. Also called polymerase chain reaction.