Scientists Say: Remission

This is a word used in medicine to describe a disease that isn’t active


Every so often, a doctor gets to deliver good news. Remission is a word they use to say that a disease is no longer active.


Remission (noun, “Ree-MISS-shun”)

In medicine, this is a term used to describe a disease that isn’t active anymore. A doctor might use it when she can no longer detect signs of cancer in a patient, for example. Cancer is the rapid, uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. If those cells die, or stop growing and shrink, the disease they cause may be in remission.

There are two types of remission — partial and complete. In partial remission, some of the signs of a disease have disappeared. For cancer, this might mean that the cancer has stopped growing. In complete remission, all signs of a disease are gone. This could mean the disease is cured. But it could also mean that the disease is still present but dormant. 

In a sentence

Scientists edited genes with tiny molecular “scissors” to send a baby girl’s cancer into remission.

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Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.

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