Medical Words List: Top 58 Medical Words To Help Bring Realism To Your Writing

Discover our medical words list with interesting technical words perfect for medical drama writing.

Whether you’re writing a medical melodrama or a novel where the main character goes through health issues, understanding medical terms can be important for writers. By using medical terms correctly, you’re creating relatable stories for readers who have been there. Patients, nurses, and doctors alike will appreciate that you took the extra time to ensure your writing is accurate. 

What Are Medical Words?

Medical words list
By using medical terms correctly, you’re creating relatable stories for readers who have been there

Some medical words, like acute and chronic, apply to other parts of daily life. Other medical words, like carcinoma and hypertension, are less likely to come up in normal daily conversation. Working to ensure that you’re using medical terms accurately can help your readers become fully immersed in your story. 


General Medical Terms

These terms are standard in medical literature and real-life situations. So, if you’re a fan of medical dramas, you’ll likely recognize many of the words used here. 

1. Abscess

The doctor warned Angela to keep an eye on her incision as it healed, as an infection could create an abscess requiring antibiotics. 

2. Abrasion

The nurse at the urgent care center assured Nicole that her abrasion was only a surface-level issue and she wouldn’t need stitches to recover. 

3. Acute

Linda was relieved when her acute sinus infection cleared up quickly after she took medicine her doctor prescribed–she was worried it would linger and become a chronic condition.

4. Adipose

When Susan went to the doctor for her liposuction consultation, he made a point to discuss the amount of adipose tissue he’d remove during her surgery. 

5. Adrenaline

Alicia was allergic to bees, and her doctor recommended that she always carry an EpiPen with her in case she was stung, as it contained adrenaline that would allow her body to stifle the allergic reaction. 

6. Anencephaly

The obstetrician was nervous about delivering the baby, as the ultrasounds showed that her baby had anencephaly, a congenital disability that results in a baby being born without some parts of the skull and brain.

7. Chronic

Kelli’s knee pain was chronic, and her doctor recommended that she undergo physical therapy and lifestyle changes that would alleviate the pain she’d been experiencing for years. 

8. Contusion

After her car accident, Lois realized she had a dark blue contusion from the seatbelt pressure across her collarbone. 

9. Convulsion

Justine’s epilepsy was well-managed, but her parents always told her teachers the warning signs of an oncoming convulsion.

10. Edema

Before getting on the plane, Gary cut back on salt to ward off edema, an uncomfortable swelling in the legs caused by overeating salt and sitting for long periods. 

11. Epidermis

Tim’s sunburn felt like it went all the way to his bones, but he knew it only affected his skin’s epidermis, the outermost layer. 

12. Fracture

When Kristen fell off the ladder, she knew something was wrong with her leg, and she worried that she might have a fracture that would require her to spend time in a cast. 

13. Inpatient

Scott required inpatient treatment for his addiction, as he struggled to stay on the path to recovery when he didn’t have around-the-clock support. 

14. Intravenous

Emma went to the hospital after she finished her marathon, as she worried that she was too dehydrated and needed intravenous fluids to start feeling normal again. 

15. Invasive

Elizabeth’s doctor told her that she might be able to overcome her heart issues with lifestyle and diet changes, but if that didn’t work, they’d have to explore more invasive options, like surgery. 

16. Keloid

Tonya’s post-surgical scar developed a keloid, a thick, pigmented piece of tissue that looked noticeably different from the rest of her skin.

17. Lesion

After Rachel removed her mole, her doctor repaired the lesion with a single stitch that she would need to return to have removed in a few days. 

18. Macrophage

Lauren knew that her macrophages (cells involved in the destruction of bacteria) were complex at work in fighting the staph infection she developed.

19. Microbe

Madelyn asked her doctor what type of microbe was causing her chest cold; she wasn’t sure whether it was a viral or bacterial infection and wanted more information to help her choose the best at-home treatment before she tried a prescription medication.

20. Outpatient

Steve didn’t need to be admitted to the hospital after his asthma attack, but his physician recommended that he follow up with his primary care doctor on an outpatient basis to ensure that his symptoms continued to improve. 

21. Noninvasive

Marge was glad that her doctor’s exam of her lymph nodes was a noninvasive procedure, as they were already sore, and she didn’t want to go through a biopsy or other invasive test.

22. Prognosis

Caleb’s prognosis was good. His doctor said that most people with his type of cancer entered remission and went on to live long healthy lives. 

23. Proprioception

Ever since her stroke, Helene struggled with proprioception, the body’s sense ability to sense movement and location of body parts in relation to one another. 

24. Saline

Optometrists recommend that contact-wearing patients soak their lenses in a saline solution in between uses to remove microbes and debris from the surface of the lens.

25. Sutures

After her car accident, Jane had to get a few sutures to close up the wounds caused by the shattered glass hitting her body. 

26. Toxic

When Delia was admitted to the hospital, her doctors tested her body for toxic substances as they struggled to pinpoint the cause of her stomach pain.

27. Transplant

Stella’s heart transplant went as smoothly as possible, and she couldn’t believe how much better she felt after she healed. 

28. Vaccine

Before kindergarten, Otto had to get a series of vaccines to keep him safe from common childhood diseases.

29. Ventilator

As John struggled to breathe, his doctor recommended that he be placed on a ventilator, allowing a machine to take over his breathing while his body continued fighting the infection.

30. Zoonotic

Rabies is a zoonotic disease that can be passed from animals to humans.

Cardiology-Specific Medical Terms

Cardiology is the study of heart diseases. Many people experience cardiac symptoms due to other health issues, such as chronic stress, diabetes, and obesity. 

31. Aneurysm

Joe knew that he needed to see the doctor quickly, as he was showing symptoms of an aneurysm, and knew that if it was left untreated, it could rupture and lead to death.

32. Angina

Tim took his angina seriously and went to the emergency room, even though his first instinct was to brush off his chest pain as heartburn.

33. Anticoagulant

Anna’s doctor prescribed anticoagulants following her surgery to lower the chance of her developing a blood clot.

34. Cardiomyopathy

After her viral heart infection, Erica developed cardiomyopathy, a condition characterized by weakening the heart muscle. 

35. Cardiovascular

Marta wasn’t a fan of waking up before the sun to go for a jog, but she knew doing so was important for her cardiovascular health. 

36. Defibrillator

To get her personal training certification, Liz had to undergo training that taught her how to use a defibrillator, a machine that can restore a person’s heartbeat to its normal rhythm following a disruption.

37. Embolism

Claire knew it was important to wear compression stockings to prevent blood clots, as failure to do so could cause a blockage in her artery known as an embolism

38. Flutter

Marcia asked her cardiologist whether the flutter she felt in her heart was normal as she became increasingly aware of the occasional irregular rhythm.

39. Hypertension

Gabe had to cut back on salt at his doctor’s request, as it contributed to his hypertension and subsequent need for high blood pressure medication.

40. Hypotension

Julie had to warn her doctor that she needed to stand up slowly following her vaccination, as her hypotension left her prone to fainting.

41. Pacemaker

Aaron’s pacemaker improved his quality of life, as he knew he could depend on the device to improve the likelihood of his heart beating regularly. 

42. Plaque

Marjorie’s doctor told her that one of her arteries was almost completely blocked by plaque and she would need open-heart surgery to remedy the issue.

43. Tachycardia

When admitting Valerie to the ER, her nurse noticed her tachycardia, or irregular heartbeat, and noted it on her chart. 

Oncology-Specific Medical Terms

Oncology is the study and treatment of cancer or uncontrolled cell growth. Sadly, most people are affected by cancer in some way, whether they develop the condition or support a loved one through treatment.

44. Benign

Emily was relieved to learn that the mole on her arm was benign and she wouldn’t have to undergo cancer treatment. 

45. Biopsy

Victoria’s doctor recommended that they biopsy the spot on her leg, as she couldn’t tell by looking whether it was an area of concern. 

46. Carcinoma

Jim was surprised to learn that he was diagnosed with carcinoma of the liver and would likely need a liver transplant as a part of his treatment.

47. Chemotherapy

While Hanna was afraid of the side effects of chemotherapy, she was thankful to have access to the treatment to help her fight her cancer diagnosis.

48. Leukemia

The child’s parents were surprised that his doctor recommended testing for leukemia, but she explained that some of his symptoms, such as frequent infections and unexplained weight loss, could be a sign of blood cancer.

49. Localized

Bridget was relieved that her cancer was localized and hadn’t spread to other organs, making it more likely to respond to treatment.

50. Lymphoma

While Greta was devastated to learn that she had cancer, her doctor told her that her stage 1 lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system) was highly curable. 

51. Malignant

The doctor was nervous about breaking the news to her patient, as it’s never easy to tell someone their tumor is malignant and they’ll need to undergo cancer treatment.

52. Metastasis

Anthony was nervous about his mother’s cancer diagnosis, as metastatic cancer has moved from its starting point to other organs in the body. 

53. Neutropenia

Many people who undergo chemotherapy develop neutropenia, a condition in which the body struggles to fight infection.

54. Oncologist

Colin was nervous about his appointment with his oncologist, as he’d learn whether his cancer had returned.

55. Radiotherapy

Petra’s doctor reviewed her treatment plan, which combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy to give her the best chance at remission.

56. Relapse

Joey wasn’t surprised to learn that he’d relapsed, as he felt similarly to when he first learned of his thyroid cancer diagnosis. 

57. Remission

Renee was relieved to learn that her leukemia was in remission, and her doctor thought it was unlikely that it would ever return.

58. Sarcoma

Dr. Roberts wanted to biopsy the bump in Holly’s leg, as some of her other symptoms, such as weight loss and bone pain, made her think that sarcoma may have developed. 

Looking for more? Check out our list of uncommon words to add to your vocabulary!