The return of signs and symptoms of a disease after the patient has enjoyed a remission. For example, a 51-year-old man had a cancer of the colon treated and went into remission with nary a sign nor symptom of the tumor. He stayed in remission for 4 years. He then suffered a relapse and had to be treated again for colon cancer.
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Return of the manifestations of a disease after an interval of improvement. SYN: recurrence (2). [L. re-labor, pp. -lapsus, to slide back]

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re·lapse ri-'laps, 'rē-. n a recurrence of illness esp a recurrence of symptoms of a disease after a period of improvement <a \relapse after an 18-month remission (M. T. Fosburg )(et al)> compare RECRUDESCENCE
re·lapse ri-'laps vi, re·lapsed; re·laps·ing to slip or fall back into a former worse state (as of illness) after a change for the better <the patient relapsed twice in four years>

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a return of disease symptoms after recovery had apparently been achieved or the worsening of an apparently recovering patient's condition during the course of an illness.

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re·lapse (reґlaps) (rə-lapsґ) [L. relapsus, past part. of relabi to fall back] the return of a disease after its apparent cessation. Cf. recrudescence.

Medical dictionary. 2011.


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  • Relapse — Re*lapse , n. [For sense 2 cf. F. relaps. See {Relapse}, v.] 1. A sliding or falling back, especially into a former bad state, either of body or morals; backsliding; the state of having fallen back. [1913 Webster] Alas! from what high hope to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • relapse — I noun backsliding, declension, declination, decline, degeneration, deterioration, escheat, fall, lapse, reddere, recidivation, recidivism, recrudescence, recrudescency, recurrence, regress, regression, reoccurrence, repetition, retrocession,… …   Law dictionary

  • relapse — n lapse, backsliding (see under LAPSE vb) Analogous words: *reversion, atavism, throwback: degeneration, decline, declension, decadence, *deterioration relapse vb *lapse, backslide Analogous words: revert, * …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

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  • relapse — (v.) 1560s, from L. relapsus, pp. of relabi slip back, from re back (see RE (Cf. re )) + labi to slip (see LAPSE (Cf. lapse)). Related: Relapsed; relapsing. The noun is first attested 1530s …   Etymology dictionary

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