2.4 Additional Suffixes


Suffixes are used in several other medical terms that do not fit the previous categories discussed. This page will review several suffixes and provide examples of terms. Note that there are a few suffixes that are very close in spelling but have slightly different meanings. It is important to be aware of these differences.

 

Table 2.23. Suffixes

Suffix MEANING EXAMPLE OF USE IN A MEDICAL TERM
-crine secretion
-cyte cell
-globin protein

 

Fig. 2.34
Fig. 2.35

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key Concept

As discussed in Chapter 1, there are different types of cells in the human body. Fig. 2.34 provides a review of the three most common cell types: , , and . Note that all the cell names end with the suffix -cyte, meaning “cell,” and begin with a combining form that indicates the type of cell.

The term hemoglobin means “protein (-globin) in the blood (hem/o).” Hemoglobin is the part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen throughout the body and transports carbon dioxide back to the lungs (Mayo Clinic, 2022). Fig. 2.35 is an image of the complex hemoglobin cell structure. If you have low hemoglobin, you would be diagnosed with . Various types of anemia were discussed in Chapter 1.

 

Table 2.24. Suffixes

Suffix MEANING EXAMPLE OF USE IN A MEDICAL TERM
-gen substance or agent that produces or causes
-genic producing, originating, causing

 

Fig. 2.36
Fig. 2.37

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key Concept

The term antigen literally means “to produce against.” Some examples of antigens are bacteria, viruses, and fungi. When an antigen enters the body, the immune system responds by producing antibodies to fight the antigen.

There are various ways to detect antigens in the body. An example is the rapid test for COVID-19 (Fig. 2.37),  which is used to detect the presence of certain proteins on the COVID-19 virus found in a sample of bodily fluid.

 

Table 2.25. Suffixes

Suffix MEANING EXAMPLE OF USE IN A MEDICAL TERM
-plasia formation (condition)
-plasm formation (tissue)

 

Fig. 2.38

 

Key Concept

Fig. 2.38 provides a comparison of a normal prostate and an enlarged prostate. When the prostate becomes enlarged and is non-cancerous, the individual is diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Hyperplasia means “formation (-plasia) that is excessive (hyper-).”

Fig. 2.41 below shows examples of several cell types, including hyperplasia. A physician may first treat BPH with medication, but if that does not work, they might perform a surgical procedure called a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) (WebMD, 2020).

 

Table 2.26. Suffixes

Suffix MEANING EXAMPLE OF USE IN A MEDICAL TERM
-iatrist specialist
-iatry specialty, treatment
-logist specialist who studies or treats
-logy study of

 

Fig. 2.40
Fig. 2.39

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key Concept

It is important to note that all the suffixes in Table 2.26 (-iatrist, -iatry, -logist, -logy) are very similar but have slightly different meanings. The context determines which suffix is used in a medical term. For example, nephrology means “the study of the kidneys,” whereas a nephrologist is a specialist who treats kidney disease. In fig. 2.39 and 2.40 there are different specialists at work in clinical and laboratory settings.

 

                 Table 2.27. Examples of -logy

MEDICAL TERM MEANING
cardiology study of the heart
dermatology study of the skin
endocrinology study of the endocrine system and hormones
gastroenterology study of the stomach and intestines
gynecology study of women
hematology study of blood
immunology study of immunity
neurology study of nerves
oncology study of tumours
ophthalmology study of the eye
pathology study of disease
pharmacology study of medication
proctology study of the anus and rectum
psychology study of  the mind
pulmonology study of the lungs
radiology study of X-rays
rheumatology study of disease of the joints
urology study of the urinary tract

 

Table 2.28. Suffixes

Suffix MEANING EXAMPLE OF USE IN A MEDICAL TERM
-thesis to put, to place
-trophy nourishment, development
-al, -eal, -ar, -ary, -ic, -ior, -tic pertaining to , , , , ,

 

Fig. 2.41

Key Concept

There are a number of changes that cells can undergo, and Fig. 2.41 illustrates several of these using the suffixes -trophy (“nourishment” or “development”) and -plasia (“formation”).

  • atrophy: No development; for example, when a cast is removed and the affected limb has decreased in size
  • dysplasia: Formation that is abnormal; for example, children who have abnormal hip formation such as hip dysplasia (Medical News Today, 2022)
  • hyperplasia: Formation that is excessive; for example BPH, seen in Fig. 2.38 (WebMD, 2020)
  • hypertrophy: Development that is excessive; for example, the large muscles of a bodybuilder (Healthline, 2019).
  • metaplasia: Cell formation that has changed; for example, lungs exposed to cigarette smoke may have cells that have changed shape (Giroux & Rustgi, 2017)

 

Exercises

 

Attribution

Unless otherwise indicated, material on this page has been adapted from the following resource:

Carter, K., & Rutherford, M. (2020). Building a medical terminology foundation. eCampus Ontario. https://ecampusontario.pressbooks.pub/medicalterminology/ licensed under CC BY 4.0

 

References

Giroux, V., & Rustgi, A. K. (2017). Metaplasia: tissue injury adaptation and a precursor to the dysplasia–cancer sequence. Nature Reviews Cancer17(10), 594–604. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrc.2017.68

Healthline. (February 26, 2019). Muscular hypertrophy and your workout. https://www.healthline.com/health/muscular-hypertrophy#exercise-frequency

Mayo Clinic. (2022). Hemoglobin test. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/hemoglobin-test/about/pac-20385075#:~:text=Hemoglobin%20is%20a%20protein%20in,blood%20cell%20count%20(anemia)

Medical News Today. (April 12, 2022). Everything you need to know about dysplasia. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/311902#types

National Cancer Institute. (2022). Neoplasm. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/neoplasm

WebMD. (October 30, 2020). Do I need surgery for BPH? https://www.webmd.com/men/prostate-enlargement-bph/enlarged-prostate-time-prostate-surgery#:~:text=Transurethral%20resection%20of%20the%20prostate,to%20remove%20the%20excess%20tissue

 

Image Credits (images are listed in order of appearance)

Diagram of three different types of blood cell CRUK 049 by Cancer Research UK, CC BY-SA 4.0

English-language Wikipedia infobox for hemoglobin by Flor WMCH, CC BY-SA 4.0

Antibody by Fvasconcellos, Public domain

Bôite test rapide Covid-19 Rapid Response TNX EN by Miguel Tremblay, CC0 1.0

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) by BruceBlaus, CC BY-SA 4.0

Professional Medical Doctor by Mona Hassan Abo-Abda, CC BY-SA 4.0

Microscope (inverted) by National Cancer Institute, Public domain

Non-neoplastic changes by DennisHansen, CC BY 3.0

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

The Language of Medical Terminology by Lisa Sturdy and Susanne Erickson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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