How To Curse Like An Oncologist

Jul 3, 2024

Swear like a sailor, a stevedore, a fishmonger, a termagant, or a trooper?

If you must.

After all, as Mark Twain said, “under certain circumstances, profanity provides relief denied even to prayer.”

Perhaps a more sophisticated and elegant way to curse is like an oncologist.

The C-word for an oncologist? Cancer.

And the new F-bomb to make the rounds – probably literally during oncology rounds – EARMUFFS, kids – is Fusobacterium nucleatum [fyoo-zoh-bak-teer-ee-uhm nu-kle-a-tum], shown below.

This is an oral bacterium associated with gum disease and several different cancers including colon adenocarcinoma, esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, head and neck cancer, and breast cancer. Fusobacterial presence has been associated with poor prognosis and treatment failure in these cancers. It seems that Fusobacteria migrate from the mouth to cancer cells through the bloodstream.

Potential treatments for F. nucleatum-induced cancers are antibiotics, and the cancer chemotherapeutic fluorouracil or FU, which was discovered in 1957.

So, if Fusobacterium nucleatum is too long and hard to pronounce, you can always comfortably fall back on the tried-and-true expletive, “FU!”.