Types of Cancer

Several factors, like location and how the cancerous cells appear under the microscope etc. determine the type of cancer. All cancers, however, fall into one of four broad categories:


Carcinoma is a malignant neoplasm of epithelial origin. It is a tumor that arises in the tissues that line the body’s organs like the nose, the colon, the penis, breasts, prostrate, urinary bladder, and the ureter. About 80% of all cancer cases are carcinomas.


Sarcomas are tumors that originate in bone, muscle, cartilage, fibrous tissue or fat. Ewing sarcoma (Family of tumors) and Kaposi’s sarcoma are the common types of sarcomas.


Leukemias are cancers of the blood or blood-forming organs. When leukemia develops, the body produces a large number of abnormal blood cells. In most types of leukemia, the abnormal cells are white blood cells. The leukemia cells usually look different from normal blood cells, and they do not function properly. Leukemia can either be acute or chronic. In acute leukemia the abnormal blood cells are blasts that remain very immature and cannot carry out their normal functions. The number of blasts increases rapidly, thus creating a greater and earlier impact on the victim. In chronic leukemia, some blast cells are present which are comparatively more mature, and thus can carry out some of their normal functions.


Lymphomas affect the lymphatic system, a network of vessels and nodes that acts as the body’s filter. The lymphatic system distributes nutrients to blood and tissue, and prevents bacteria and other foreign “invaders” from entering the bloodstream. There are over 20 types of lymphoma. Hodgkin’s disease is one type of lymphoma. All other lymphomas are grouped together and are called non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma may occur in a single lymph node, a group of lymph nodes, or in another organ. This type of cancer can spread to almost any part of the body, including the liver, bone marrow, and spleen.

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