Types of Cancer
Cancer Clinic Serving Salinas, Monterey County & More
Cancer can occur in virtually any part of the body, including bones and
blood. One of the most effective cancer treatments is to remove or destroy
the cancerous cells before they have a chance to spread, which can be
difficult if they develop in a vital organ. Cancer is classified by the
area in which it first occurred. So if your cancer started in your colon,
it is colon cancer, if it spreads to other organs from your colon, it
is called metastatic colon cancer.
There are over 100 types of cancer. Below, we review some of the more common
forms of cancer and some symptoms you can look out for to catch them early.
This is a collective term describing the most common forms of cancer. Carcinoma
refers to cancer that forms in the epithelial cells – the cells
that make up your skin and the tissues in and around organs. There are
numerous types of carcinoma:
Basal cell carcinoma – Also known as skin cancer, this is the most common form of cancer and,
thankfully, one of the easiest to treat. Keep an eye out for strange blemishes,
red patches, or shiny bumps on the skin, as these can be skin cancer symptoms
Large cell carcinoma – Cancer that may begin in several types of large cells.
Squamous cell carcinoma – (also called epidermoid carcinoma) Another form of skin cancer that can
also effect organs and the digestive tract. This cancer is often caused
by excessive UV radiation (sun exposure). Again, look for strange marks
on the skin like reddish patches or discolorations to catch this cancer early.
Renal cell carcinoma – This occurs when a tumor grows within the kidneys, and is the most common
form of kidney cancer. Symptoms can be subtle, be on the lookout for increased
fatigue, unexplained weight loss, or blood in your urine.
Adenocarcinoma – This cancer forms in the mucus and body fluids, in the glandular cells.
These fluids are produced in many parts of the body, meaning the cancer
can appear in many areas. Nausea, frequent heartburn, and jaundice can
be symptoms of Adenocarcinoma
Your lymphatic system is responsible for the creation of white blood cells
that fight germs and other body invaders. Lymphoma has been categorized
into two different types:
Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) – Sometimes referred to as “Hodgkin’s disease,” this disease
develops in the white blood cells and impedes your body’s ability
to fight disease. Symptoms include night sweats, itching, a fever without
an infection, and bumps in the neck, armpit, or groin causes by swelling
of the lymph nodes.
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) – This is the more common form of lymphoma. This form of cancer
develops tumors in the lymphocytes (white blood cells). The main difference
between NHL and its counterpart is that it forms in a different type of
lymphocyte, and is less predictable in how it progresses. Symptoms are
the same as HL, and a doctor will need to examine cells under a microscope
to diagnose HL or NHL.
Breast cancer usually occurs in women, but men can also develop the disease.
This cancer begins in breast tissue cells, and will usually spread to
other parts of the body if not treated. Many people know of breast cancer
because it is a common health problem for women. We have learned much
about this form of cancer over the years, including improved ways to diagnose
and treat it early.
How to take action against breast cancer:
- You can reduce risks of developing breast cancer by exercising, keeping
a healthy diet, and drinking alcohol in moderation.
- Perform a self-breast exam at least once a month. This involves standing
in front of a mirror and examining the breasts with hands and eyes to
look for lumps.
- A breast lump does not always mean cancer. Have a doctor examine it to
determine whether or not it is a malignant tumor.
- If the cancer is found early enough, a doctor may recommend removing the
affected breast and taking steps to destroy surrounding cancer cells.
Educating yourself on brain cancer is the best way to spot the early warning
signs and preventing it from spreading. Brain cancer is the result of
a tumor growing on the brain. This can affect your behavior and thought
processes. If others make remarks that you have been acting strangely,
it is best to have a doctor examine you.
Brain tumor symptoms include:
- Memory loss
- Slurred speech
- Mood swings and irritability
- Frequent headaches in the morning
- Vision loss
- Balance problems
Though these changes can be anxiety inducing, use them as a sign to get
treatment. It is possible to make complete recoveries from brain cancer.
While anti-smoking initiatives have helped to lower the number of cases
each year, lung cancer is still very the second most common form of cancer
in the world. According to the American Cancer Society, a man has a 1
in 14 chance of developing lung cancer, while a woman has a 1 in 17 chance.
It typically begins to manifest in people aged 65 and older, so it is
important to keep an eye out for the early symptoms as you age.
There are two main categories of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer
and small cell lung cancer. Each type of non-small lung cancer has different
cancer cells, which grow and spread in different ways:
Adenocarcinoma – This form of lung cancer begins in the glandular cells that line the alveoli
and create mucus to protect your organs. This is the most common form
of lung cancer. You may be able to recognize it early if your notice a
bad cough that doesn’t go away, start coughing up blood or phlegm.
Pleomorphic – In this less common form of lung cancer, cells begin to grow to unnatural
sizes and shapes. Like other forms of lung cancer, early symptoms may
include chest pain, hoarseness, and a persistent cough.
Carcinoid tumor – Lung carcinoid tumors are rare and generally develop slower than other
types of cancer, making them easier to treat if diagnosed early. These
tumors rarely come with any early symptoms and are most often found early
in patients with high risk factors who receive regular lung cancer screenings.
Prostate Cancer begins when healthy cells in the prostate change and grow
out of control, forming a tumor. A tumor can be cancerous or benign. A
cancerous tumor is malignant, meaning it can grow and spread to other
parts of the body. A benign tumor means the tumor can grow but will not spread.
Prostate cancer is somewhat unusual when compared with other types of cancer.
This is because many prostate tumors do not spread to other parts of the
body. Some prostate cancers grow very slowly and may not cause symptoms
or problems for years. Even when prostate cancer has spread to other parts
of the body, it often can be managed, allowing men with advanced prostate
cancer to live with good health and quality of life for several years.
However, if the cancer cannot be well controlled with existing treatments,
it can cause pain, fatigue, and sometimes, death.
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein produced by cells in the prostate
gland. PSA is detected using a blood test. Higher-than-normal levels of
PSA can be found in men with prostate cancer, as well as other non-cancerous
prostate conditions. Those conditions include benign prostatic hyperplasia
(BPH), which is an enlarged prostate, and prostatitis, which is inflammation
or infection of the prostate. In addition, ejaculation and riding a bicycle
can temporarily increase PSA values, so these activities should be avoided
before people have PSA testing. More than 95% of prostate cancers are
a type called adenocarcinomas. A rare type of prostate cancer known as
neuroendocrine cancer or small cell cancer tends to be more aggressive,
spread outside the prostate earlier, and usually does not make too much PSA.
Colon Colorectal Cancer
Colon Colorectal cancer can begin in either the colon or the rectum. Most
colon and rectal cancers are a type of tumor called adenocarcinoma, which
is cancer of the cells that line the inside tissue of the colon and rectum.
Other types of cancer that occur far less often but can begin in the colon
or rectum include cardinoid tumor, gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST),
small cell carcinoma, and Lympoma. People with colorectal cancer may experience
the following symptoms or signs.
As mentioned above, it is also possible that these changes may be caused
by a medical condition that is not cancer, especially for the general
symptoms of abdominal discomfort, bloating, and irregular bowel movements.
A change in bowel habits, Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel
does not empty completely, Bright red or very dark blood in the stool,
Stools that look narrower or thinner than normal, Discomfort in the abdomen,
including frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, and cramps, Weight loss
with no known explanation, Constant tiredness or fatigue, Unexplained
iron-deficiency anemia, which is a low number of red blood cells.
Talk with your doctor if any of these symptoms last for several weeks or
become more severe. If you are concerned about any changes you experience,
please talk with your doctor and ask to schedule a colonoscopy. Because
colorectal cancer can occur in people younger than the recommended screening
age and in older people between screenings, anyone at any age who experiences
these symptoms should visit a doctor to find out if he or she should have
Ask Your Doctor for More Information
Your doctor should be able to tell you more about cancer and what to look
out for. Many forms of cancer share symptoms with other diseases, and
it may be in your best interests to ask a doctor to screen you for cancer
when other treatments are not working. The skilled team of oncologists
at Salinas Valley Medical Clinic are intimately familiar with all forms
of cancer, and are happy to address any of your concerns.