Rare Pediatric Cancer Support
Share |
Home   Support   Story   Forum Support   Info   News & Clinical Trials   Cancer Dictionary   Events Calendar   SiteMap   Twitter   Facebook

Cancer Types

This page is an outlined summary of the major classifications of cancer, with some sub-classifications. You will note, that rarer forms of cancers are listed in more detail. That is because of the overall nature of this site. If you see (or don’t see) a cancer that should be excluded (or included) as a major category, please let me know.

Carcinoma– arises in epithelial tissue of the skin and mucous membranes in organs, glands, lungs, urinary bladder, nerves, etc. The nomenclature used for carcinomas, are usually based on the location where the primary tumor was found (ie. breast, prostate, etc.) It is the most common major group of cancers. Some subcategories of carcinoma are:

Adenocarcinoma – form on glandular epithelium, such as the lung, breast, prostate, ovary, or kidney.

Basal Cell Carcinoma – arises in the small round cells of the outer layer of the skin

Carcinoma in Situ – abnormal cell growth, stays within the area in which it started, does not spread.

Carcinoma of Unknown Primary – undetermined primary site.

Squamous Cell – arises on the skin and inner surfaces of the body.

Transitional Cell – develops in the lining of the bladder, ureter, and renal pelvis.


Sarcoma – arises from cells of the blood, bone marrow, and immune system (including lymph nodes). It is usually found in bone, muscle, cartilage, fat, and fibrous tissue. They include:

Angiosarcoma – resemble blood or lymphatic tissue. It includes hemangiosarcoma and lymphangiosarcoma.

Alveolar Soft-Part Sarcoma – very rare childhood sarcoma.

Chondrosarcoma – arises in cells that form cartilage.

Epitheliod Sarcoma – usually found in the hand or foot.

Ewings Sarcoma – arises in soft tissue and bone.

Fibrosarcoma – arises in fibrous tissues like tendons and ligaments. The cells are called histiocytes or fibrocytes.

Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor – arises in the connective tissue cells of the GI tract.

Kaposi’s Sarcoma – develops from endothelial cells in the skin.

Leiomyosarcoma – found in smooth involuntary muscle tissue.

Liposarcoma – arises in the deep fatty tissue.

malignant schwannoma / Neurosarcoma/Neurofibrosarcoma – arises in the peripheral nerves.

Mesenchymoma – shows two or more sarcoma differentiations.

Osteosarcoma – arises in the cells that form bones.

Rhabdomyosarcoma – resembles developing skeletal muscle.

Synovial Cell Sarcoma – resembles joint cells in structure.


Hematological – arises from blood cell elements.

Leukemia – originates in the blood-forming tissues of the body. Acute leukemia involves an overgrowth of very immature blood cells, chronic involves an overgrowth of mature blood cells.

» Acute Myelogeneous

» Acute Lymphoblastic (Lymphocytic)

» Chronic Lymphocytic

» Chronic Myelogenous

Lymphoma – originating in the lymphatic system, affecting the body’s immune system.

» Hodgkins – develops in white blood cells (disease fighting cells) and is caused by an overproduction of lymphoid cells.

» Non-Hodgkins – all lymphomas other than Hodgkins. NHL’s arise in B-cell, T-cell, from true histiocytes or undefined cells.

- High Grade – very aggressive, progresses rapidly.

- Intermediate Grade – neither indolent or aggressive, may be treated as high grade.

- Low Grade – indolent in nature.

Myeloma – usually referred to as multiple myeloma, it originates in the plasma cells of the bone marrow.


Mixed Type – Certain types of cancer that do not belong to any single category. They include:

Brain and CNS cancers include:

» Astrocytoma – involves the brain stem, cerebellum, cerebrum. May be pineal, anaplastic, diffuse, and non-infiltrating (pilocytic, subependymal).

» Choroid Plexus Carcinoma – typically occurs in one of the lateral ventricles.

» Ependymoma – includes well differentiated, myxopapillary, subependymoma, anaplastic, and ependymoblastoma.

» Germ Cell – includes germinoma, teratoma, embryonal carcinoma, yolk sac, and choriocarcinoma.

» Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – grade IV, poorly differentiated astrocytoma.

» Glioma – arises from the glia (supportive tissue). Includes brain stem, optic, astrocytic, and mixed cell.

» Hemangiopericytoma – arises in the lining of the brain (meninges).

» Medulloblastoma – usually found in children and young adults.

» Malignant Meningioma – occurs in mostly middle aged women. Accounts for only 5% of meningiomas.

» Mixed oligoastrocytoma

» Neuroblastoma – rapidly growing tumors.

» Neurocytoma, Central – arises in the fluid cavities of the brain.

» Oligodendroglioma – arises in oligodendrocytes, includes anaplastic, well differentiated and mixed cell.

» Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumor – most frequently occur in young children.

» Rhabdoid, Atypical Teratoid – an aggressive entity, usually found in children.

Melanomas – stems from the pigment-forming cells (melanin) of the skin.

» Acral Lentiginous – occurs on the thickened skin of the feet and hands.

» Early – usually considered a curable stage.

» Lentigo Maligna – slow growing.

» Nodular – most dangerous form.

» Superficial Spreading – the commonest form of cancer.

Certain Gynecological Cancers

» Malignant Mullerian Mixed – composed of adenocarcinoma and sarcoma cells.

» Mixed Adenosquamous Carcinoma – has malignant glandular and squamous epithelial cells.