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Types of Cancer

What are the Different Types of Cancer?

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Updated June 02, 2014

Cancer is a broad term used to encompass several malignant diseases. There are over 100 different types of cancer, affecting various parts of the body. Each type of cancer is unique with its own causes, symptoms, and methods of treatment. Like with all groups of disease, some types of cancer are more common than others. A-Z Index of Types of Cancer

Common Types of Cancer

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men and women. Over one million cases are diagnosed each year, with more young people having skin cancer than ever before. The most common types of cancer in the United States based on frequency of diagnosis are:

Types of Cancer Classified by Body System

Cancer has the potential to affect every organ in the body. The cells within malignant tumors have the ability to invade neighboring tissues and organs, thus spreading the disease. It is also possible for cancerous cells to break free from the tumor and enter the bloodstream, in turn spreading the disease to other organs. This process of spreading is called metastasis.

When cancer has metastasized and has affected other areas of the body, the disease is still referred to the organ of origination. For instance, if cervical cancer spreads to the lungs, it is still called cervical cancer, not lung cancer.

Blood Cancer: The cells in the bone marrow that give rise to red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets can sometimes become cancerous. These cancers are leukemia or lymphoma.
Bone Cancer: Bone cancer is a relatively rare type of cancer that can affect both children and adults, but primarily affects children and teens. There are several types of bone cancer, but the most common types are: Brain Cancer: Brain tumors can be malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). They affect both children and adults. Malignant brain tumors don't often spread beyond the brain. However, other types of cancer have the ability to spread to the brain. Types of brain cancer include:
  • Adult Brain Tumor
  • Brain Stem Glioma, Childhood
  • Cerebellar Astrocytoma, Childhood
  • Cerebral Astrocytoma/Malignant Glioma, Childhood
  • Ependymoma, Childhood
  • Medulloblastoma, Childhood
  • Supratentorial Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumors and Pineoblastoma, Childhood
  • Visual Pathway and Hypothalamic Glioma, Childhood
Breast Cancer: Breast cancer is a common type of cancer that affects women and much less commonly, men. More than 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States each year. Types of breast cancer include, but are not limited to:

Digestive/Gastrointestinal Cancers This is a broad category of cancer that affects everything from the esophagus to the anus. Each type is specific and has its own symptoms, causes, and treatments.
Endocrine Cancers: The endocrine system is an instrumental part of the body that is responsible for glandular and hormonal activity. Thyroid cancer is the most common of the endocrine cancer types and generally, the least fatal.
  • Adrenocortical Carcinoma
  • Carcinoid Tumor, Gastrointestinal
  • Islet Cell Carcinoma (Endocrine Pancreas)
  • Parathyroid Cancer
  • Pheochromocytoma
  • Pituitary Tumor
  • Thyroid Cancer

Eye Cancer: Like other organs in the human body, the eyes are vulnerable to cancer as well. Eye cancer can affect both children and adults.
  • Melanoma, Intraocular
  • Retinoblastoma

Genitourinary Cancers: These types of cancer affect the male genitalia and urinary tract.

Gynecologic Cancers: This group of cancer types affect the organs of the female reproductive system. Specialized oncologists called gynecologic oncologists are recommended for treating gynecologic cancer.

Head and Neck Cancer: Most head and neck cancers affect moist mucosal surfaces of the head and neck, like the mouth, throat, and nose. Causes of head and neck cancer vary, but cigarette smoking plays a role. Current research suggests a strong HPV link in the development of some head and neck cancer.
  • Hypopharyngeal Cancer
  • Laryngeal Cancer
  • Lip and Oral Cancer
  • Metastatic Squamous Neck Cancer
  • Nasopharyngeal Cancer
  • Oropharyngeal Cancer
  • Paranasal Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer
  • Parathyroid Cancer
  • Salivary Gland Cancer

Respiratory Cancers: Cigarette smoking is the primary cause for cancer affecting the respiratory system. Exposure to asbestos is also a factor.

Skin Cancers:
Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common type of cancer among men and women. Exposure to the UV rays of the sun is the primary cause for non-melanoma skin cancer and also melanoma.
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