Anxious to find out what those big words your doctor tells you about with that worried look on his face? Well, we need to cover a few more items that don’t fit into any particular system. Next, we start organ systems!

Technicolor terms

Leuk/o= whiteleukemia (overabundance of white blood cells)
melan/o= blackmelanoma (black tumor of the skin)
cyan/o= bluecyanosis (blueness may be due to cold or not enough oxygen in blood)
xanth/o= yellowxanthoma (yellow tumor)

Tumor talk

Adding – oma (a swelling) to organ and tissue word roots names tumors. Not all tumors are malignant (cancerous). Many are benign (not life-threatening).

Aden/o= glandadenoma
Lip/o= fatlipoma
My/o= musclemyoma
Lymph/o= lymph tissuelymphoma
Carcin/o= malignantcarcinoma
Osteo/o= boneosteoma

Directions, please?

Endo    = within, inside ofendoscopy (to inspect the inside of an organ or space with a lighted instrument)
Peri    = aroundperianal (around the anus)
Circum= aroundcircumcise (cut around)
Retro    = behindretrosternal (behind the breastbone)
Epi= upon, on topepidermis (the top or outermost layer of skin)
Trans= throughtransurethral (through the urinary exit duct)
Intra    = withinintravenous (inside the veins, e.g. IV fluids)
Sub    = below    subclavian (below the clavicle = collar bone)

In review, the word parts that make up medical terminology are prefixes, suffixes and word roots. The most typical sequence is prefix, word root, suffix with the word root being central but this is not always the case. In the interests of simplification, I have taken some liberties with formal construction, putting a hyphen in front of a suffix to indicate it is added to the end of a word, example, -itis. Prefixes and word roots I have shown as freestanding word parts. You may have noticed that sometimes I have added a slash and a vowel, example, melan/o. These are called combining forms which make it easier to attach to other word parts, and, hopefully, making them easier to pronounce. 

Signs and symptoms – (Ever wonder what’s the difference?)

A symptom is something you observe and complain about to the physician. “Doctor, I have a fever”.

A sign is something the physician observes and/or can measure. “Mrs. Smith, you are running a temp of 102″.