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These FAQs are provided by the Vocabulary Knowledge Center.

What is the difference between the NCI Thesaurus and the NCI Metathesaurus?

The vocabularies are different in a number of areas including origins, format, license, and coverage. To see all the differences look at this comparison.

How do I obtain a copy of the NCI Thesaurus from the UMLS Metathesaurus?

A copy of the NCI Thesaurus can be generated from the UMLS Metathesaurus using the MetamorphoSys tool that comes with the UMLS. The version of the NCI Thesaurus in the UMLS Metathesaurus will lag the current production release of the Thesaurus, so if timeliness is in issue for you, please visit the download center.

On the download landing page scroll down to the section on the NCI Thesaurus. There are several formats available for download: OWL, XML (both the inferred and asserted versions in a format suitable for use in Apelon DTS) and flat file. Decide which version you want and follow the link to the download page. You will be routed through a registration and then a license page before you come to the actual download page. You can register as a user if you want, but you don't have to. You do need to acknowledge the license terms and conditions (basically under the license you can do anything you want with the NCI Thesaurus content except to change it while still calling it NCI Thesaurus.)

I am trying to find out what "Semantic Type" means in the NCIt and what they each mean. Can you help me?

The information you are looking for is about the UMLS Semantic Types which are part of the UMLS Semantic Network.

Follow this links for information on the Semantic Types.

This page provides a chart of the Semantic Types and their hierarchies: Semantic Types and Hierarchy.

How do I contribute concepts or make a terminology suggestion for inclusion in the NCI Thesaurus?

  • For a substantial volume of terms, or a subtree, the easiest way would be to send a spreadsheet to the editors, with contact information. That can be sent to They will assign it and interact with the submitter.
  • You can also add a note to a concept in the NCIt loaded in NCBO Bioportal. NCI has an RSS feed that will notify them.
  • Alternatively, and the best route for a small numbers of terms, use the Term Suggestion feature on the Quick Links pull down on the NCI Thesaurus browser.

Other questions

If your question was not answered on this page, please start a new thread in the Vocabulary Knowledge Center forum for this terminology.

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