October 2020

Cancerous tumors usually include the name of the particular cell type in which they began followed by “sarcoma.”

For example, a benign bone tumor might be called an osteoma, but a malignant tumor, osteosarcoma.

By Body Part/System

Cancers are also often separated by the organs or organ systems in which they arise.

Central Nervous System Cancers

Central nervous system cancers include those that originate in tissues of either the brain or the spinal cord.

Cancers that spread to the brain are not considered brain cancers, but rather brain metastases, and are far more common than primary brain cancers.

Cancers that commonly spread to the brain include lung cancer, breast cancer, and melanoma. Unlike tumors in other regions of the body, brain cancers do not often spread outside of the brain.

Head and Neck Cancers

Head and neck cancers can affect any region of the head and neck, from the tongue to the vocal cords.

In the past, these cancers were most commonly seen in people who were both heavy drinkers and smokers.

Two such cancers are:

1. Oral cancer: Roughly 60-70% of all head and neck cancers are oral cancers. These cancers may involve the mouth, tongue, tonsils, throat (pharynx), and the nasal passageways.

2. Laryngeal cancer (cancer of the vocal cords)

Breast Cancers

Many people are aware that breast cancer is all-too-common cancer in women, but it’s important to point out that men get breast cancer also.

Since most breast cancers are carcinomas, they may sometimes be detected before they have become invasive.

This is considered carcinoma in situ, or stage 0 breast cancer.

Breast cancer stages 1 through 4 are invasive stages of the disease. You may hear these more specific names:

Ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast (DCIS) and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS).

Carcinoma in situ is the earliest stage at which breast cancer can be detected and is considered stage 0.

These cancers have not yet penetrated through the basement membrane and are considered non-invasive.

They are most often detected then a biopsy is done for an abnormality on a screening mammogram.

Invasive (infiltrating) breast cancer (both ductal and lobular): Once a breast cancer penetrates through the basement membrane, it is considered invasive.

Inflammatory breast cancer: Inflammatory breast cancer, in contrast to other breast cancers, does not usually present as a lump. Rather, the early stages of the disease look like redness and rash on the breast.

Respiratory Cancers

Cancers of the lung and bronchial tubes are the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the United States.

While smoking is a risk factor for these diseases, lung cancer occurs in people who have never smoked. Lung cancer in these individuals is the sixth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

Lung cancer is decreasing overall. Types you may hear about include:

1. Non-small cell lung cancer: Subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer (responsible for around 80-85% of lung cancers) include lung adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs, and large cell lung cancer.

2. Small cell lung cancer: Small cell lung cancer accounts for around 15% of lung cancers and is more likely to occur in people who have smoked.

3. Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma is a cancer of the pleural mesothelium, the lining surrounding the lungs. It is strongly linked with exposure to asbestos.

Digestive System Cancers

Digestive tract cancers may occur anywhere from the mouth to the anus. Most of these cancers are adenocarcinomas, with squamous cell carcinomas occurring in the upper esophagus and the most distant portion of the anus.

Types include:

1. Esophageal cancer: squamous cell esophageal cancer (often related to smoking and drinking) was once the most common form of the disease, it has been surpassed by esophageal adenocarcinoma (often related to long-standing acid reflux).

2. Stomach cancer: Stomach cancer is uncommon in the United States, but is a common type of cancer worldwide.

3. Pancreatic cancer: Pancreatic cancer is less common than some other cancers, but is the fourth most common cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women. It is most often diagnosed in the later stages of the disease when surgery is unfortunately no longer possible.

4. Liver cancer: Cancer that has metastasized to the liver is much more common than primary liver cancer. Risk factors for liver cancer include alcohol abuse and chronic infections with hepatitis B or C.

5. Colon cancer: Colon cancer is often referred to as colorectal cancer and includes both cancers of the rectum and the upper colon. It is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women.

6. Anal cancer: Anal cancer differs from colon cancer both in treatments and causes. Infection with HPV now causes the majority of anal cancers.

Urinary System Cancers

The genitourinary system involves the kidneys, the bladder, the tubes connecting the kidneys and bladder (called the ureters), and the urethra (the passageway out from the bladder). This system also includes structures such as the prostate gland.

Types include:

1.Kidney cancer: The most common types of kidney cancer include renal cell, transitional cell carcinoma, and Wilms’ tumor in children.

2. Bladder cancer: Roughly half of the bladder cancers are caused by tobacco exposure. Those who work with dyes and paints are also at higher risk.

3. Prostate cancer: Prostate is the second leading cause of cancer death in men, but now has a very high five-year survival rate.

Reproductive System Cancers

Reproductive organ cancers may occur in men and women. Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer deaths in women, and though curable in the early stages, is often diagnosed when it has already spread.

Types include:

1.Testicular cancer

2. Ovarian cancer (including germ cell tumors)

3. Uterine cancer (also called endometrial cancer)

4. Fallopian tube cancer

5. Cervical cancer

Endocrine Cancers

The endocrine system is a series of glands that produce hormones and, as such, may have symptoms of an over or underproduction of these hormones.

Most endocrine cancers, excluding thyroid cancer, are fairly rare. A combination of different endocrine cancers may run in families and is referred to as multiple endocrine neoplasia, or MEN.

The incidence of thyroid cancer is increasing in the United States more than any other cancer. Thankfully, the survival rate for many of these cancers is high.

Bone and Soft Tissue Cancers

Bone cancer, either primary or metastatic, often presents with symptoms of pain or of a pathologic fracture—a fracture that occurs in a bone that is weakened by the presence of the tumor.

Types include:

1. Osteosarcoma

2. Kaposi’s sarcoma: Kaposi’s sarcoma is a soft tissue cancer often seen in people with HIV/AIDS.

3. Ewing’s sarcoma: Ewing’s sarcoma is a bone cancer that primarily affects children.

Blood-Related Cancers

Blood-related cancers include both those involving blood cells and those involving solid tissue of the immune system, such as lymph nodes.

The risk factors for blood-related cancers differ somewhat from solid cancers in that environmental exposures as well viruses (such as the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mononucleosis) play a significant role.

Blood-related cancers include:

1. Hodgkin lymphoma

2.Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

3. Acute lymphocytic leukemia

4. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia

5. Acute myelogenous leukemia

6. Chronic myelogenous leukemia

7. Myeloma

Skin Cancers

Skin cancers are often separated into two primary groups: melanoma and non-melanoma. While non-melanoma skin cancers are much more common, melanomas are responsible for most skin cancer deaths.

Examples of skin cancers include:

1. Basal cell carcinoma

2. Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin

3. Melanoma


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