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I am writing a scientific research paper. As is common in the field, I am about 2000 words over the limit for submission, and I am trying to cut words. "Patient-specific" in its hyphenated form is only counted as one word, but I do not want to use it incorrectly. When is it appropriate to use "patient-specific" vs. "patient specific"? In most cases I am using the phrase as an adjective, such as "patient-specific anatomy".

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When it's a modifier. "The cure is patient specific" vs "the patient-specific cure".

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