Fact Checked

Everything You Need To Know About Cancer

Types of Cancer

Types of Cancer - (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

30-Second-Summary
  • Cancer is a large group of illnesses that occur when abnormal cells split rapidly and can easily spread to other organs, causing tumors and disrupting the body’s normal functioning.
  • There are numerous types of cancer, but the primary cause of cancer is mutation or changes in the DNA structure of your cells.
  • Genetic mutations can be hereditary, and they can occur after birth due to environmental factors.
  • There are numerous clinical terms used for general types of cancer, though carcinoma is cancer that starts in the skin, while leukemia is the cancer of the bone marrow.
  • There are treatments for various stages of cancer, types of cancer, and advancements.
  • The most popular are local radiation therapy, systemic drug treatments like chemotherapy or immunotherapy, and palliative care.

table of contents

Introduction

According to the World Health Organization (WHO)[1], cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the universe. It accounted for one in every six deaths in 2020. 

What is it, and what are the types of cancers? Well, according to experts, cancer is a large group of diseases that occur when abnormal cells divide uncontrollably, spreading to other tissues and organs at a faster rate than normal. These rapidly multiplying cells are known as tumors or lumps of tissue. 

The worst types of cancer tumors or malignant tumors spread into or invade nearby tissues and can travel to distant areas in the body to form new lumps, a process known as metastasis. Most types of cancer form solid tumors, but cancers of the blood like leukemia, do not.

On the other hand, benign tumors do not spread into or invade nearby tissues. When extracted, benign types of cancer do not grow back, whereas cancerous types can.

Benign tumors can also be significantly large, and most can cause severe symptoms being life-threatening, like some types of brain cancer.

The Difference Between Cancer Cells & Normal Cells

Types of cancer cells or malignant cells differ from normal cells in numerous ways:

  • Cancer cells develop in the absence of signals beckoning them to grow, while normal cells only develop when signaled to.
  • The worst types of cancer cells trick your immune system into helping them stay alive and multiply. For example, some cancerous cells convince your immune cells to safeguard the tumor rather than attacking it. Normal cells do not.

  • Cancer cells ignore signals that typically beckon cells to stop dividing or die, the process called programmed cell death or apoptosis[2].
  • Various types of cancer cells hide from the immune system, which usually gets rid of damaged or abnormal cells. Normal ones are usually in the open.
  • Cancer cells invade nearby areas and spread to other areas of the body. Normal cells do not grow when they encounter other cells, and most do not move around the body.
  • The worst types of cancer cells accumulate multiple alterations in the chromosomes, like duplications or deletions of chromosome parts. Some cells even have double the normal number of chromosomes.
  • Cancer cells tell blood vessels to grow toward tumors. These vessels supply the tumors with nutrients and oxygen and get rid of waste products from the tumors.
  • Numerous types of cancer cells depend on various types of nutrients than normal cells. Moreover, some cancerous cells generate energy from nutrients in a different way than most normal cells, allowing the cancer cells to multiply rapidly.

Most times, the worst types of cancer cells depend so heavily on abnormal behaviors that they cannot survive without them.

Cancer experts and researchers have taken advantage of this and developed therapies that target the abnormal characteristics of various types of cancer cells.

For instance, some types of lung cancer therapies inhibit the blood vessels from growing toward tumors, thereby starving the tumor that required nutrients. More on that below.

Cancer Cells

The Evolution Of Cancer Cells Explained

The main cause of numerous types of cancer is mutations or alterations to the DNA in the cells. That means the cancer is triggered by genes that regulate the way cells function, especially how they develop and divide. 

Genetic alterations that cause the worst types of cancer can occur due to:

  • Errors that occur as cells divide

  • DNA damages are caused by toxic environmental substances such as tobacco smoke chemicals, high alcohol consumption, UV rays from the sun, exposure to radiation, and infections by various viruses like HIV, human papillomavirus[3], and hepatitis B.
  • It is inherited from biological parents.
  • The body typically eliminates cells with damaged DNA before they turn cancerous. However, the body’s ability to do that reduces as people age. That is why there is a higher risk of cancer later in life.
  • Every type of cancer has a unique combination of genetic alterations. As the cancerous cells keep multiplying, numerous changes occur. Even within a specific tumor, several cells might have various genetic changes.

  • As for how cancer spreads, the cells break away from the tumor and travel through the body via the lymphatic system to form new tumors in other areas. It is known as metastasis[4].
  • Metastatic cancer has the same types of cancer cells as original cancer. For instance, types of breast cancer that form metastatic tumors in the lung are metastatic breast cancers, not lung cancer.
  • Under a microscope, metastatic cancer cells usually have some molecular characteristics in common, like the presence of certain chromosome alterations. In some cases, treatment might prolong the lives of individuals with metastatic cells, like various types of
  • prostate cancer that form metastatic tumors.

Causes Of Gene Mutation & How They Interact With One Another

There are two basic forms of genetic mutations:

1. Acquired Mutations

These are the popular cause of various types of cancer. They occur from damage to genes in a specific cell in an individual’s life. For instance, it could be a colon & rectal cell or brain cell, which then goes on to divide numerous times to form a tumor.
 
Types of cancer that occur due to acquired mutations are known as sporadic cancers. They are not found in each cell in the body. Also, they are not passed from parent to offspring. 

Factors that cause these gene mutations include:

  • Tobacco smoke
  • UV radiation
  • Viruses
  • Age

2. Germline Mutations

These are less common, and they occur in a sperm cell or egg cell, meaning they pass on directly from a parent to a child during conception. As an embryo develops into a baby, the mutation from the sperm or egg cell is copied into each cell within the body. Since the mutation affects reproductive cells, it can pass from one generation to another. The worst types of cancer caused by germline mutations are referred to as inherited cancers, and they account for 5% to 30% of all cancers. 

You should also know that genetic mutations might affect three gene types: DNA repair genes, proto-oncogenes, and tumor suppressor genes. These mutations are sometimes known as drivers of cancer.

  • DNA-Repair Genes – These help in fixing damaged DNA. Cells with a mutation in these genes may tend to develop extra mutations in other genes and different alterations in their chromosomes, such as duplications and deletions of chromosomes. Together, these gene mutations might trigger the cells to become cancerous.
  • Proto-Oncogenes – These are involved in normal cell growth and division. Nonetheless, when these gene types are disrupted in specific ways or are more active than normal. They may trigger some of the worst types of cancer or oncogenes, which allow the cells to grow and thrive when they should not.
  • Tumor Suppressor Genes – It controls cell growth and division. Cells with certain changes in these gene types might divide in a haphazard/rapid/uncontrollable manner.

The Various Types Of Cancers

Various Types Of Cancers
There are over 100 types of cancer in the world. However, the most common types in the US and practices globally are breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, melanoma, and prostate cancer. 

Cancer types are categorized based on the organs or tissues where they are formed. For instance, various types of thyroid cancer are concentrated on the thyroid (tracheal) area while brain cancer starts in the brain. Cancers are also categorized based on the cell type that formed them like an epithelial cell or squamous cell. 

Now, let us look at the five main types of cancer that begin in particular cell types:

  • Carcinoma – It is one of the worst types of cancer since it affects organs and glands such as the breasts, lungs, pancreas, and the skin. It is the most common type of cancer.
  • Sarcoma – These types of cancer affect soft or connective tissues like blood vessels, bones, cartilage, fat, joints, or muscle.
  • Melanoma – Sometimes, cancer might grow in the skin pigment cells. This type of cancer is known as melanoma. More on that below.
  • Lymphoma – These are some of the worst types of cancer because it affects the lymphocytes or white blood cells (your body’s disease protection unit). There are two types of lymphomas – Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Leukemia – Another group of the worst type of cancer is leukemia. It affects your blood, and it starts when healthy blood cells change and grow uncontrollably. More on it below!

Learn more about other types of cancers, the different stages of cancer, the risk factors, and more by exploring the list below. 

Bladder Cancer

The bladder is an organ of the body that collects urine after it is produced in the kidneys. During urination, the bladder tightens, allowing urine to flow through a tube (the urethra) and exit the body. The bladder’s lining is made up of urothelial cells. And according to research, 90% of types of bladder cancer[5] develop in urothelial cells. The cells grow uncontrollably and divide at a rapid rate. Thus, causing cancerous issues. 

Bladder cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the US, but in most cases, a lack of early symptoms causes it to go undiagnosed. 

As a result, bladder cancer is not often caught until it reaches the later stages of cancer, when it is more challenging to manage and treat. 

Causes & Risk Factors

Bladder cancer develops when cells begin multiplying uncontrollably. These abnormal cells grow within the urothelial lining. With time, as the cancerous cells divide, they grow deeper into the bladder wall. When they reach the outermost layer, they start spreading to nearby organs or tissues and eventually to other parts of the body (metastasis). 

Unfortunately, less than half of these types of cancer patients receive a diagnosis before cancer extends to the bladder’s inner layer when it is easy to treat and manage. While the exact cause of bladder cancer is not known, the common risk factors include age (older individuals) and gender (mostly males). Other risk factors include:

  • Chronic bladder infections
  • Chronic irritation of the urothelial and parasitic infections
  • Family history

  • Race – It is twice as common among Caucasians as African Americans. It is not common among Asians, Hispanics, or Native Americans.
  • Inherited gene mutations like Rb1 or hereditary cancer syndrome like Cowden disease[6]
  • Long-term use of catheters
  • Smoking
  • Low fluid consumption
  • Exposure to specific chemicals or radiation

  • Prior cancer treatments, especially the extended use of the chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide[7]

Signs & Symptoms Of Bladder Cancer

Symptoms Of Bladder Cancer
Blood in the urine or hematuria is the first symptom of bladder cancer. It might present regularly or disappear and reappear in weeks. At times, blood is present in a small amount that cannot be detected with the naked eye, microscopic hematuria, but a urine test might notice it. 

The early stages of these types of cancer do not cause pain or other symptoms other than bleeding. However, blood in the urine can also be a symptom of conditions, such as kidney stones, bladder stones, or non-cancerous kidney infections. Other signs and symptoms of bladder cancer include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Urination urgency, even when the bladder is not full
  • Inability to urinate
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Weak urine system
  • Lower back pain, mostly focused on one side
  • Feet swelling
  • Bone pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Appetite loss
  • Pelvic pain

If bladder cancer spreads or metastasizes, it might cause these symptoms to various parts of the body:

  • Lungs – Shortness of breath and uncontrolled coughing

  • Bones – Pains or fractures
  • Liver – Abdominal pains or jaundice[8]

Types & Stages Of Bladder Cancer

There are three main types of bladder cancer:

  • Adenocarcinoma – accounts for about 2% of all types of bladder cancer[9] and begins when glandular cells form in the bladder after long-term irritation or inflammation. Glandular cells make up the mucus-secreting glands of the body.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma – It is the rarest type of cancer and accounts for about 4% of all bladder cancer types. It starts when thin, flat squamous cells develop in the bladder after long-term infection or inflammation.

  • Urothelial carcinoma (UCC) – Is also referred to as transitional cell carcinoma (TCC)[10]. This type of cancer accounts for 90% of all bladder cancer types. It also accounts for 10% to 15% of kidney cancer types diagnosed in adults. It begins in the urothelial cells (cells in the inner layer of the bladder). Other, less common types of bladder cancer include sarcoma of the small cell bladder cancer, among others.

As for the stages of cancer, oncologists use the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM system, which represents tumor, lymph node, and metastasis. This method offers vital information about the extent, spread, and size of tumors. Based on the TNM classification, the bladder cancer tumor is categorized into stages that range from 0 (early, localized cancer) to IV (late-stage cancer that has spread throughout the body).

Even though bladder cancer is not discovered until symptoms develop, early detection can offer a better prognosis. Urinalysis[11], a common screening method is used to diagnose patients. 

Brain Cancer

Brain cancer is a result of cancerous cells in your cognitive system. Types of brain cancer cells form tumors that can be fast-growing or slow-growing based on the type of tumor present. 

It is not as common as other types of cancers. According to research studies, people have less than a 1% chance of developing a malignant brain tumor. 

The treatment for various types of brain cancer mainly focuses on extracting the tumor and then destroying the remaining cancer cells. New advancements in brain cancer treatments may help boost survival rates, especially for slow-growing tumors. 

Here is a detailed lowdown on various types of brain cancers, the different stages of cancer, and the signs and symptoms to look out for. 

Causes & Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors
Primary types of brain cancer are an overgrowth of the cells in your brain that creates masses referred to as tumors. They may vary from other types that begin in another part of the body and spread to the brain. When that occurs, they are known as secondary or metastasized types of brain cancer. 

Some types of brain cancer tumors can multiply rapidly, disrupting your bodily functions. Brain tumors can be life-threatening and require treatment as soon as they are detected.

The exact cause of primary types of brain cancer is unknown. However, researchers show there is a link between exposure to high doses of ionizing radiation and increased risks of developing brain tumors.

The most common sources of ionizing radiation come from regular medical imaging tests like CT scans or X-rays, possible workplace exposure, and radiation therapy treatments. Other common risk factors that might lead to various types of brain cancer include:

  • Family history
  • A compromised immune system
  • Gender – Certain types of brain cancer like meningiomas are twice likely to develop in women, while medulloblastomas are more in men.
  • Increased age
  • Previous radiation treatments
  • Exposure to chemicals like fertilizer, herbicides, or pesticides
  • Working with elements that can trigger various types of brain cancer, such as lead, rubber, petroleum, and plastic
  • Long-term smoking
  • Having the Epstein-Barr virus or mononucleosis

Secondary types of brain cancer, those that occur when cancer starts in another part of the body and spreads to the brain are mainly caused by:

  • Certain types of lung cancer
  • Types of bladder cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Various types of kidney cancer
  • Types of breast cancer

Signs & Symptoms Of Brain Cancer

Brain cancer symptoms may vary on the type, location, and extent of the tumor, the patient’s age, and family history. However, some of the early signs of various types of brain cancer include:

  • Seizures
  • Numbness
  • Headaches that change based on time of day and position of the head and get worse with time

Other common symptoms of brain cancer include:

  • Bruising
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • Cushing’s syndrome – a condition signaled by weight gain
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Impotence or infertility
  • Memory loss
  • Mood or personality shifts
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Overproduction or underproduction of milk
  • Speech difficulty
  • Unexplained Tiredness

Some individuals might feel right cognitively or experience coordination, speech, or visual issues. These signs and symptoms might be subtle or develop over time. 

Types & Stages Of Brain Cancer

There are over 120 types of brain cancer. Some, such as glioblastoma are malignant and might be rapidly growing, while others, like the meningioma, are benign and might be slow-growing.

Some of the most common types of brain cancer tumors include:

  • Glioma – These types of brain cancer originate in the glial cells and account for 3 out 10 of brain cancer cases.
  • Astrocytoma – A type of glioma that includes glioblastomas, this form of brain tumor is the most common and fastest-growing. It occurs in the central nervous system and rises anywhere in the brain or spinal cord. In adults, astrocytomas may occur in the cerebrum, the largest part of your cognitive system.
  • Meningioma – Often slow-growing, this type of brain tumor grows in the tissues that surround your brain and spinal cord and is the most common type of brain cancer in adults.
  • Ganglioglioma – These types of brain cancer are slow-growing tumors present in the glial cells and neurons and can be treated with surgery.

  • Medulloblastoma – They are some of the fastest-replicating tumors that develop on the brain’s nerve cells and are more common in kids than adults[12].
  • Craniopharyngiomas – The slow replicating tumors develop between the pituitary gland and the brain. They tend to press on optic nerves, causing visual problems.
  • Schwannomas – These types of brain cancer are slow-growing tumors that develop around the cranial nerves and are usually benign.

Rather than the typical stages of cancer, the WHO uses four grades to determine tumors of the brain and the central nervous system.

  • Grade I indicates a low chance of spreading. It might be treatable with surgery and no other treatment options.
  • Grade II are not advanced, but they might reappear even after treatment. Some of these tumors increase to higher grades of malignancy.
  • Grade III tumors indicate signs of malignancy and have begun invading other parts of the body.
  • Grade IV means that the tumor is replicating rapidly, including having metastasized to other parts of the body.

With low-grade types of brain cancer, surgery works without any other form of treatment (mostly when the tumor can be completely eradicated). If any amount of cancerous cells remains after surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy might be used.

For higher-grade tumors, treatment started with surgery, and then radiation therapy and chemotherapy followed as needed. 

Prostate Cancer

Diagnosed with this cancer
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men. In the US, studies suggest that over 270,000 men will be diagnosed with this cancer type in 2022 alone. The prostate is a tiny gland in men’s lower abdomen, situated under the bladder and surrounding the urethra. It is regulated by testosterone, and the prostate gland produces semen. 

Prostate cancer occurs when abnormal, malignant cells form in the prostate. What’s more, various types of prostate cancer can spread to other parts of the body. 

Causes & Risk Factors

Prostate cancer occurs when gene alterations cause cells to start growing uncontrollably. Mutations might be passed down from parent to offspring (inherited mutations) or occur due to other factors (acquired mutations). About 10% of several types of prostate cancer are considered to be related to inherited mutations. 

The exact cause of various types of prostate cancer in an individual patient might not be clear. However, figuring out the risk factors might help men take preventive measures to minimize the probability of developing prostate cancer. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Age – One in 10,000 men younger than 40 will be diagnosed with various types of prostate cancer, but one in five men over 60 will be diagnosed with the condition.
  • Race – African-American men are about 70% more likely to develop various types of prostate cancer than Caucasians or Hispanics.
  • Family history
  • Prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN)
  • Agent Orange Exposure
  • Poor eating habits

Signs & Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

While most types of prostate cancer do not cause any symptoms, there are still some signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Frequent urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Discomfort or pain when sitting
  • New onset of erectile dysfunction
  • Nocturia
  • Interrupted urine flow or straining to empty the bladder

Other noncancerous conditions like benign prostatic hyperplasia can trigger similar symptoms. If cancer has spread to other parts of the body, signs, and symptoms might include:

  • Change in bowel movements
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in the bones, hips, shoulders, and thighs
  • Swelling in the feet or legs
  • Unexplained weight loss

Types & Stages Of Prostate Cancer

Almost all types of prostate cancer – over 99% – are adenocarcinomas. It is a form of tumor found in the most common cancers, including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer. Prostate adenocarcinomas[13] form in glands that secrete prostate fluids. Other types of prostate cancer that originate from the prostate and spread to other parts of the body include:

  • Sarcomas, like bone cell cancer
  • Small cell carcinoma, like certain types of lung cancer
  • Transitional cell carcinomas such as kidney cancer
  • Neuroendocrine tumors like pancreatic cancer

Types of prostate cancer are also classified by their growth rate:

  • Aggressive types of prostate cancer – the tumor can overgrow and spread to other body parts like bones and become metastatic cancers
  • Non-aggressive types of prostate cancer – the tumor is slow-growing and can be treated early

As for the stages of cancer, the AJCC uses the TNM system in diagnosing prostate cancer. The system stages it by:

  • Extent or size of the tumor
  • Lymph node involvement
  • Whether cancer has metastasized to other areas
  • PSA level at the time of diagnosis
  • Gleason score

Types of prostate cancer stages range from I to IV. The condition is most advanced in stage IV.

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer occurs in the tissues of the pancreas, which is an essential endocrine organ situated behind the stomach. The pancreas plays a vital role in digestion by producing enzymes the body requires to digest carbs, fats, and proteins. Due to its location, pancreatic cancer might be challenging to detect and is diagnosed in advanced stages. According to the studies, pancreatic cancer makes up about 3% of cancer diagnoses in the US and 7% of cancer deaths. 

Causes & Risk Factors

Various types of pancreatic cancer occur when abnormal cells begin to grow in the pancreas and form tumors, but it is not clear why this happens. Nonetheless, certain factors have been shown to increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer:

  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Chronic and hereditary pancreatitis
  • Infections such as a history of H.Pylori
  • Family history
  • Excess weight
  • Unbalanced diets – Consuming red and processed foods, fried foods, sugar or cholesterol.
  • Gender – Men are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than women.
  • Age – Individuals between 65 and 74 years are more likely to develop the conditions.
  • Race – African-Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer than Caucasians.
  • Workplace exposure to chemicals or numerous metal working conditions

Signs & Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer does not cause symptoms until it reaches the advanced stages. However, as it progresses, you can expect the following signs and symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood clots often in the leg
  • Dark brown urine
  • Depression
  • Jaundice
  • Itchy skin
  • Light-colored, greasy stools
  • Lower back pains
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Unintentional weight loss

The condition might also affect your blood sugar levels and, in some cases, can lead to diabetes (or worsen pre-existing diabetes symptoms). 

Types & Stages Of Pancreatic Cancer

There are two main types of pancreatic cancer (based on the type of cell they develop in):

  • Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma – It is a common type of pancreatic cancer and starts from the exocrine cells, which produce enzymes vital to digestion.
  • Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors – It is the rarest type of pancreatic cancer. It begins in the endocrine cells, which release a hormone that affects everything from mood to metabolism.

When pancreatic cancer is diagnosed, physicians will perform additional tests to determine whether it has spread. These tests include PET scans or blood tests. Afterward, they use the results of the test to determine the stages of cancer. Most medical institutions use the TNM system (stage 0 to IV) to explain how advanced the cancer is. 

Liver Cancer

It is one of the most common types of cancer in the world and is now considered the fastest-growing cause of cancer death. It occurs more frequently in men (about three times more than in women do).

Causes & Risk Factors

Physicians are not certain why some individuals get live cancer while others do not. Nonetheless, there are specific factors that might increase the risk of developing liver cancer:

  • Age – it is prevalent in older citizens
  • Race – it is more common in American-Indian and Alaska-natives than in Caucasians
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Aflatoxin exposure
  • Anabolic steroid use
  • Medical conditions such as cirrhosis, hepatitis, obesity-related issues, and type 2 diabetes
  • Genetic conditions such as Wilson’s disease

Signs & Symptoms Of Liver Cancer

The signs and symptoms of types of liver cancer tend to stay hidden until cancer reaches the advanced stage. However, there are symptoms you can look out for:

  • Abdominal pain – often on the right side and might reach the shoulder region.
  • Chronic back pain
  • Easy bruising
  • Enlarged liver – manifests in the abdomen appearing swollen
  • Dark urine
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Jaundice
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Unintentional weight loss

Types & Stages Of Liver Cancer

Stages Of Liver Cancer
There are various types of liver cancer. Each one corresponds to a specific part of the liver or type of cell affected. Primary liver cancer types can begin as a single lump developing in the liver or start in other areas within your liver at the same time. The main types of liver cancer include:

  • Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) – It is the most common type of liver cancer. It accounts for 85% to 90% of primary liver cancer types. The condition starts in the hepatocytes, the main cells in the liver. It is more likely to occur in individuals with long-term hepatitis or cirrhosis.

  • Cholangiocarcinoma – It is also referred to as bile duct cancer, it develops in the tiny, tube-like bile ducts in the lives. These ducts transport bile, which helps in digestion. Cancer starts in a section of the ducts and is known as intrahepatic bile duct cancer[14]. It is the rarest form of liver cancer, affecting about 8,000 people per year.
  • Hepatoblastoma – Is an extremely rare type of liver cancer. It is found in kids, especially those under three years old. With chemotherapy and surgery, the condition can be cured 70% of the time.
  • Liver Angiosarcoma – This is another rare form of liver cancer that starts in the liver’s blood vessels. It progresses quickly and is often diagnosed in its advanced stage.

Physicians use the TNM system (stage I to stage IV) to figure out the stages of liver cancer.

Leukemia

The cancer type affects the blood cells, mainly the white blood cells. N leukemia, white blood cells (WBCs) do not function like normal WBCs. They also divide too rapidly and ultimately crowd out normal cells. White blood cells are produced in the bone marrow, but certain types of WBCs are also manufactured in the:

  • Thymus gland
  • Spleen
  • Lymph nodes
  • Once produced, WBCs travel through the bloodstream and lymphatic systems to battle infections in the body tissues.

Causes & Risk Factors

Experts do not know the exact cause of leukemia. However, certain risk factors might trigger the development of leukemia. These include:

  • Family history
  • Genetic disorders like Down syndrome
  • Blood cancer disorders such as myelodysplastic syndrome
  • Previous chemotherapy or radiation therapies
  • Exposure to high levels of radiation and the chemical benzene, which is found in cigarette smoke

Signs & Symptoms Of Leukemia

The signs and symptoms of these types of cancer might include:

  • Bleeding easily
  • Bone pain
  • Confusion
  • Enlarged liver or spleen
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Fever or chills
  • Frequent infections
  • Headaches
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Red spots on the skin, petechiae
  • Seizures
  • Unexplained weight loss

Leukemia can also spread to other body parts, including the:

  • Heart
  • Kidneys
  • Lungs
  • Testicles

Leukemia

Types & Stages Of Leukemia

Early-onset leukemia can be acute (sudden) or chronic (slow). In acute, the cancer cells multiply rapidly, while in chronic leukemia, the condition progresses slowly. These types of cancer are also diagnosed based on the type of cell infected. Leukemia involving myeloid cells is referred to as myelogenous leukemia, while that involving lymphocytes is called lymphocytic leukemia.

The main types of leukemia include:

  • Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) – It occurs in kids and adults and affects the blood and bone marrow. It progresses rapidly.
  • Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) – It may also occur in kids. It affects the blood and bone marrow and progresses uncontrollably.
  • Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) – It appears in adults and starts in the blood-producing cells of the bone marrow and spread to the blood.
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) – Affects individuals over 55 years. It grows slowly, starting in the lymphocytes of the bone marrow, and then spreads to the blood.
  • Hairy Cell Leukemia – The rarest subtype of CLL, the cancer type progresses slowly and develops when the bone marrow manufactures too many B cells.

As for stages of cancer, doctors use the TNM system. However, AML and ALL types are staged, depending on how the cancer cells appear under the microscope and the types of cells involved. ALL and CLL are staged based on the WBC count at the time of diagnosis. The appearance of immature WBCs or myeloblasts in the blood or bone marrow is also used to stage AML and CML. 

The Types Of Cancer In Women

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the US, exceeded by cardiovascular disease only. Among women, after melanoma, the most common type of cancer is breast cancer.

While discussing cancer can be disheartening, arming yourself with knowledge can be empowering. By learning which types of cancer mostly affect women, ways to detect them earlier on, and the risk factors that might cause these cancer types, you can focus on a healthier lifestyle.

Below, we look into some of the most common types of cancer in women:

Breast Cancer

Types of breast cancer develop in either the lobules or ducts of the breasts. Lobules are glands that produce milk, while ducts are pathways that bring milk from the glands to the nipples. Cancerous cells can also occur in the fatty tissues or fibrous connective tissue within your breasts.

The uncontrollable cancer cells often invade healthy breast tissue and can travel to the lymph nodes under the arms. Once it enters the lymph nodes, it has access to move to other parts of the body.

Causes & Risk Factors

Breast cancer
According to the CDC, breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in women. However, the cause of breast cancer is not known. Certain risk factors might increase the risk of various types of breast cancer:

  • Age – most invasive breast cancers occur in women aged 55 and above
  • Gender – according to studies, Caucasian women are 100 times more likely to develop breast cancer than white men are and black women 70 times more than black men
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Dense breast tissue
  • Family history
  • Early menstruation – if you had your first period at 12, you have an increased risk of developing various types of breast cancer.
  • Giving birth at an older age (35 years and above)
  • Never getting pregnant
  • Late menopause start – individuals who start menopause after 55 years
  • Hormone therapy
  • Lifestyle factors like obesity

Signs & Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

In the early stages of breast cancer, physicians might not cause symptoms. In most cases, the tumor might be too small to be felt, but an abnormality can be seen on a mammogram. When a tumor is felt, the first sign is a new lump in the breast area. Several types of breast cancer can cause symptoms such as:

  • A breast lump or tissue thickening that feels different
  • A lump or swelling under the arm
  • A nipple discharge other than breast milk
  • Bloody discharge in the nipple area
  • Breast pain
  • Changes in the appearance of the skin
  • Inverted nipple
  • Pitted skin in the breast
  • Swelling in all or part of your breast

Types & Stages Of Breast Cancer

There are various types of breast cancer, and they are divided into two main categories:

  • Invasive types of breast cancer – It has spread from breast ducts or glands to other parts of the body.
  • Non-invasive types of breast cancer – It is also referred to as breast cancer in situ and does not spread from the original tissue.

The most common types of breast cancer include:

  • Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) – Is the most common type of breast cancer. It begins in the breast ducts and invades nearby tissues.
  • Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC) – first develops in the breast lobules and has invaded nearby tissues.
  • Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) – the cancer cells are confined to the breast ducts and do not invade the surrounding tissues.
  • Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS) – cancer cells that grow in the milk-generating breast glands. Like DCIS, the cells have not invaded the surrounding tissues.

Other less common types of breast cancer include:

  • Angiosarcoma – It grows on the blood vessels or lymph vessels.
  • Paget Disease Of The Nipple – It starts in the nipple ducts. As it grows, it begins affecting the skin and the areola of the nipples.
  • Phyllodes Tumor – It is the rarest type of breast cancer and starts in the connective tissue of the breast.

Physicians divide types of breast cancer into stages depending on the size and extent of the tumor. Breast cancer has five main stages – stage 0 to stage IV.

Cervical Cancer

Cervical Cancer
This type of cancer begins in the cervix, the hollow cylinder connecting the lower part of the uterus to the vagina. Most cervical cancers start in cells on the surface of the cervix.

Causes & Risk Factors

Most cervical cancer cases are triggered by sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that triggers genital warts. There are over 100 strains of HPV, and certain types cause cervical cancer – HPV-16 and HPV-18. Being caused by a cancer-triggering strain of HPV does not mean you will get cervical cancer. The immune system gets rid of the vast majority of HPV infections.

Key risk factors of cervical cancer include:

  • Family history
  • Sexual history
  • Excess weight
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Long-term use of oral contraceptives
  • Weakened immunity
  • Numerous full-time pregnancies
  • STIs and HIV/AIDs infections

Signs & Symptoms Of Cervical Cancer

The condition is not detectable until it is in its late stages. When symptoms appear, though, they appear as menstrual period issues or UTIs. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain during sex
  • Pain the pelvis
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Incontinence and nocturia
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to consult your physician.

Types & Stages Of Cervical Cancer

There are two main types of cervical cancers:

  • Adenocarcinoma – the rarest form of cervical cancer, this condition starts developing in the glandular cells.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma – accounts for over 90% of all cervical cancer cases.

As for the stages of cancer, doctors use the TNM system (stage I to IV) to determine the advancement of cervical cancer. 

Colon & Rectal Cancer

Also known as colorectal cancer, this type of cancer is the third most common type of cancer diagnosed in the US. It starts as growth or polyp in the lining of the colon. There are two main types of growth:

  • Adenomatous Polyps (adenomas) – These may help change to cancerous cells and are precancerous.
  • Hyperplastic Polyps And Inflammatory Polyps – They are common in the colon lining and are generally not precancerous.

Colorectal cancer begins in the innermost layer of the lining and grows outward, affecting blood and lymph vessels. Over time, cancer metastasizes to lymph nodes and other body parts.

Causes & Risk Factors

Colorectal cancer might be caused by genetic mutations that can be inherited or acquired. Some of the risk factors that can increase the risk of colon and rectal cancer:

  • Age – individuals over 50 years
  • Race – more common among American-Indian, African-American, Alaska Natives, or Jewish Heritage
  • Family history
  • History of polyps
  • A previous colorectal cancer diagnosis
  • Types 2 diabetes
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease
  • Diet high in red meats or processed meats
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Heavy alcohol consumption

Signs & Symptoms Of Colon & Rectal Cancer

Colon and Rectal Cancer
Some signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer include:

  • Bowel habit changes
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Incomplete bowel movements
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in stools
  • Ribbon-like stools
  • Stomach pains, cramps, or fullness that occurs frequently and does not go away

Types & Stages Of Colon & Rectal Cancer

The common type of colorectal cancer is adenocarcinoma. These form within cells that make the mucus in the colon or rectum. Other types of colorectal cancer include:

  • Gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors
  • Primary colorectal lymphomas
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumors
  • Leiomyosarcomas

The less common types of colon and rectal cancers are triggered by tumors such as:

  • Carcinoids – Begin in hormone-making cells in the intestines.
  • Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors – Start as benign and become cancerous. They usually form in digestive tracts but rarely in the colon.
  • Lymphomas – It is formed in the lymph nodes.
  • Sarcomas – It is formed in soft tissues such as colon muscles.

As for the stages of cancer, physicians use the TNM system (stage I to IV) to determine the advancement of colorectal cancer.

Lung Cancer

Types of lung cancer are the leading cause of cancer deaths in the US. Cancer starts in the lungs and can spread to other body parts. The early symptoms are subtle, but the sooner you are diagnosed, the better the treatment options and potential outcomes.

Types of lung cancer are mainly treated using surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapies. Newer treatments include immunotherapies or targeted therapies.

Causes & Risk Factors

Any individual can get lung cancer, but almost 90%[15] of all lung cancer cases are triggered by heavy smoking. Smoke destroys lung tissue, which then starts behaving abnormally, increasing the risks of lung cancer.

Other risk factors that enhance the risk of various types of lung cancer include:

  • Exposure to hazardous substances such as radon, asbestos, arsenic, cadmium, chromium
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Family history
  • Previous radiation therapy to the chest

Signs & Symptoms of Lung Cancer

The early stage of various types of lung cancer does not always cause symptoms. When these signs and symptoms occur, they can include symptoms such as back pain or shortness of breath. Back pain occurs when tumors cause pressure in the lungs or when they spread to the ribs or spinal cord. Other symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pains that worsen when breathing deeply
  • Lingering or worsening coughs
  • Wheezing
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Hoarseness
  • Weight loss
  • Recurrent respiratory infections like bronchitis or pneumonia

Late-stage symptoms include:

  • Bone pain in the back or hips
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Balance issues
  • Lumps in the collarbone or neck
  • Numbness in the arms
  • Drooping in one eyelid and shrunken pupils
  • Yellowing of skin and eyes
  • Swelling of the face
  • Shoulder pain
  • Lack of perspiration on one side of the face
  • Confusion

Types & Stages Of Lung Cancer

Types Stages Of Lung Cancer
There are numerous types of lung cancer. The most common types are non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) or small-cell lung cancer (SCLC). Nonetheless, some individuals have tumors that contain both cancer cell types:

  • Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) – It makes up 80 to 90% of all lung cancer cases. Most types respond well to treatment when caught in the early stages. Subtypes include adenocarcinoma, large-cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Squamous Cell Lung Carcinoma – The cancerous cells start in passages of the respiratory tract and they account for 30% of all types of lung cancer.
  • Adenocarcinomas – It is form in the outer part of the lung tissues. Some like the adenocarcinoma in situ (AIS) begin in the tiny air sacs, but they are non-aggressive.
  • Adenosquamous Carcinoma – It develops in a mixture of mucus-producing cells and squamous cells.
  • Large Cell Carcinoma – It is a fast-growing group of NSCLCs that cannot be categorized under other types of cancer.
  • Small-Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) – It accounts for about 20% of various types of lung cancer and is more aggressive than NSCLC.
  • Mesothelioma – These types of lung cancer are linked to asbestos exposure. It occurs when carcinoid tumors begin in hormone-generating (neuroendocrine) cells.

As for the stages of cancer, lung cancer is detected using the TNM system, which includes stage I to stage IV.

Skin Cancer (Melanoma)

It is the most common form of cancer in women. It occurs when there is irregular growth of skin cells.

Causes & Risk Factors

It occurs when gene mutations develop in the DNA of your skin cells. The mutations cause the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form masses of cancer cells. Most of the causes of skin cancer types are unclear. However, the risk factors that might increase the risk of skin cancer include:

  • UV light exposure
  • Family history
  • Inherited conditions such as xeroderma pigmentosum
  • Weakened immune system from viruses or immune-suppression therapies
  • Moles, but not all moles
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Chemical exposure to arsenic, coal, paraffin, and certain types of oil
  • Basal cell nervous syndrome
  • HPV
  • Radiation therapy exposure
  • Psoriasis treatments

Signs & Symptoms Of Skin (Melanoma) Cancer

Skin cancer is not identical, and it might not cause all early symptoms. However, unusual changes to the skin can be a warning sign for various cancer types. You can also watch out for symptoms of skin cancer like:

  • Skin Lesions – Moles or unusual growths, bumps, scaly patches, or dark spots.
  • Asymmetry – Two halves of a lesion or mole.
  • Color – A spot that has an unusual colors, like white, pink, red, black, or blue.
  • Border – Lesions feature ragged or uneven edges.
  • Diameter – The size is larger than a quarter the size of a pencil eraser.
  • Evolving – You can detect mole changes in ways such as color, shape, or size.

Types & Stages Of Skin (Melanoma) Cancer

There are numerous types of skin cancer. They include:

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma – This is a non-aggressive form of skin cancer. It starts in the basal cells, the skin cells that replace old cells in the lower level of the epidermis. It appears on the surface of the skin.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma – These types of cells may affect the outermost part of the epidermis. They can also be found in the lungs and mucous membranes.
  • Melanoma – These types of skin cancer account for 1% of all skin cancer types. It develops from cells (melanocytes) that give your skin color. They are noncancerous and can develop anywhere in the body, but are more common on the chest and back in men and the legs in women.
  • Merkel Cell Skin Cancer – It is the rarest form of skin cancer. It is caused by the overgrowth of Merkel cells, specialized cells found in the epidermis. These types of skin cancer occur more in men than women and are more in white persons.

  • Lymphoma Of The Skin – When lymphocytes start growing irregularly on the skin, it is known as cutaneous lymphoma[16] or skin lymphoma.
  • Kaposi Sarcoma – These appear as brown, purple, or red patches or tumors on the skin. KS lesions appear on the feet, face, or legs. Lesions can also appear on the genital areas, mouth, or lymph nodes. These types of skin cancer can spread over your body, like the throat or stomach.
  • Actinic Keratosis – These are tiny patches of brown, pink, or red skin. They are not cancerous but are precancerous.

To determine skin cancer stages or severity, your physician will factor in:

  • How large the tumor is
  • If it has spread to the lymph nodes
  • If it has spread to other body parts
  • Nonmelanoma skin cancer types like a basal cell or squamous cell cancers are staged using the TNM system (stage I to stage IV)
  • Melanoma cancer types use the TNM system that uses the tumor depth and thickness, lymph nodes spread, and metastasis or cancer spread. Early stages of melanomas start from 0 and progress through the stage I to IV and split further using capital letters.

Thyroid Cancer

Types of thyroid cancer
Types of thyroid cancer form in the tissues of the thyroid gland, a tube situated on either side of the windpipe below the cartilage referred to as Adam’s apple. Even though thyroid cancer is not head or neck cancer, it is treated by otolaryngology. The thyroid gland produces various hormones, including the thyroid hormone, which regulates body temperature, energy levels, and heart rate. It also produces calcitonin, which enables the body to use calcium.

Causes & Risk Factors

There are no records of the exact cause of numerous types of thyroid cancer. However, certain risk factors increase the chance of developing the condition:

  • Age – Individuals in their 50s and 60s are more likely to develop various types of thyroid cancer.
  • Gender – Women develop various types of thyroid cancer more than men do.
  • Family history
  • Hereditary conditions such as Cowden disease 
  • Overexposure to radiation in childhood through radiation therapies or x-rays
  • Overexposure to pesticides
  • Obesity
  • Low iodine levels
  • Excess iodine consumption

Signs & Symptoms Of Thyroid Cancer

Various types of thyroid cancer mimic other diseases and conditions. You can expect to notice symptoms such as:

  • A lump in the throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Neck pain, starting from the front and moving up to the ears
  • Swelling or nodules in your neck
  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent coughs
  • Voice changes

Types & Stages Of Thyroid Cancer

Types of thyroid cancer are relatively uncommon. Nevertheless, it is considered one of the most evolving types of cancer in the US. There are three main types of cancer, and the appearance of cancer cells categorizes them as:

  • Differentiated – Cells appear similar to the regular thyroid cells.
  • Medullary – Cells develop from the C cells, which are the cells that produce hormone that controls calcium and phosphate in the blood.
  • Anaplastic – Cells appear different from regular thyroid cells.

The various types of thyroid cancer include:

  • Papillary Thyroid Cancer – Is the most common type of thyroid carcinoma. It forms from follicular cells and can spread to lymph nodes.
  • Follicular Thyroid Cancer – These types of thyroid cancer are the second most common form of differentiated thyroid cancer, meaning cancerous cells resemble normal thyroid cells.
  • Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer – It is the most common form of undifferentiated thyroid carcinoma. The thyroid tumor cells are more similar to cancer cells than normal cells.
  • Hürthle Cell Thyroid Cancer – These types of thyroid cancer are a subtype of follicular carcinoma.
  • Medullary Thyroid Cancer – These are carcinomas that develop from C cells in the thyroid gland, and they include familial medullary thyroid cancer (FMTC) and multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2). As for the stages of various types of thyroid cancer, physicians use the TNM system (stage I to stage IV) to determine the advancement of thyroid cancer.

Other types of cancer in women include ovarian cancer, uterine/endometrial cancer, vaginal cancer, vulvar cancer, primary peritoneal cancer, and gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD).

What Are the Signs That Cancer Might Be Killing You?

When one approaches their final days with various types of cancer, they might experience:

  • A tendency to become gradually less responsive to cues such as touch or voice
  • Blurry or dim vision
  • Confusion about the time, place, and identities of those around them
  • Cool, bluish-colored skin, especially in the hands and feet
  • Difficulty closing the eyes
  • Drifting in and out of a conscious state
  • Dry mouth and lips
  • Hallucinating or having dream-like experiences involving traveling or being welcomed by already deceased persons
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Noisy breathing with congestion, gurgling, or rattling sounds
  • Reduced speech or hearing
  • Repetitive involuntary movements
  • Slow breathing with long pauses lasting for 10-30 seconds

When one succumbs to cancer, their:

  • Bowel empties uncontrollably
  • Breathing stops
  • Blood pressure becomes undetectable
  • Eyes do not move
  • Pulse stops
  • Pupils dilate and stay so even in harsh light environments
  • You should note that symptoms may vary based on the types of cancer an individual and the parts affected.

What Are The Types Of Cancer That Cause Positive ANA?

Neoplastic diseases might cause positive ANA. Some studies have discovered that ANA is found in the sera of breast and lung cancer patients, frequently as in Rheumatic diseases. In various types of breast cancer, they might be used as an aid to early diagnosis.

Frequently Asked Questions

Whether someone’s cancer is curable or not, it depends on the types and stages of cancer, the types of treatment they can access, and various other factors. However, some types of cancer are more durable than others.

The treatable but incurable ones include:

  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia
  • Myeloma
  • Secondary brain tumors
  • Secondary lung cancer
  • Secondary breast cancer
  • Secondary liver cancer

There is no guarantee when it comes to cancer treatment and cures. Nevertheless, doctors have a significant chance of success in treating these types of cancer:

  • Prostate cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Early stages of breast cancer
  • Hodgkin lymphoma

No. Not everyone has cancer cells. The body is constantly producing new cells, some of which have the probability of becoming cancerous. At any point in time, one might be producing cells that have destroyed DNA, but that does not mean they are destined to have cancer. Most times, cells with damaged DNA either repair themselves or die through apoptosis. The likelihood of cancer occurs when neither of these happens.

When cancer cells die, they trigger inflammation. Small blood vessels are leaky, triggering, redness and swelling. Immune system cells move to other areas and can release chemicals and proteins that cause damage to cell structures nearby.

The Bottom Line

Cancer is a collection of severe diseases caused by certain genetic alterations in the cells. Abnormal cancer cells might divide uncontrollably and develop tumors. Various risk factors like alcohol consumption, smoking, lack of physical activity, unhealthy diets, high BMIs and certain viruses might contribute to developing certain types of cancers.

While most might be incurable, screenings can help detect cancer early, when it is easy to treat. The treatment plans for individuals with cancer may vary based on the types of cancer, the stages of cancer, age and general health.

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In keeping with our strict quality guidelines, we only cite academic research institutions, established health journals, or peer-reviewed studies in our content. You will be able to find links to these sources by clicking the numbers in parentheses (1, 2, etc.) that appear throughout our content.

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All Health Web Magazine content is thoroughly reviewed and/or fact-checked by a team of health industry experts to ensure accuracy.

In keeping with our strict quality guidelines, we only cite academic research institutions, established health journals, or peer-reviewed studies in our content. You will be able to find links to these sources by clicking the numbers in parentheses (1, 2, etc.) that appear throughout our content.

At no time do we advise any of our readers to use any of our content as a substitute for a one-on-one consultation with a doctor or healthcare professional.

We invite you to contact us regarding any inaccuracies, information that is out of date or any otherwise questionable content that you find on our sites via our feedback form.