Although there are several types of cancer, these can be divided into five fundamental categories: carcinomas, sarcomas, myelomas, lymphomas and leukemias.
These tumours originate within tissues which either cover surfaces or line body organs. Carcinomas account for eighty to ninety percent of all cancer cases. Carcinomas are split into two main subtypes: adenocarcinoma, which develops within an organ or gland, and squamous cell carcinoma, which originates in the epithelium, generally the skin.
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There are more than fifty kinds of sarcomas, belonging to two primary classes: bone sarcoma and soft tissue sarcoma. Sarcomas originate within connective tissues, appearing within bones, muscles, fat, cartilage, nerves, tendons and joints, usually of the arms or legs.
Myelomas are found within the plasma cells of the bone marrow, the soft tissue inside bones. Plasma cells are white blood cells that create disease fighting and illness fighting antibodies. Myeloma cells prevent the regular generation of antibody, leaving the resistance system weakened.
The multiplication of myeloma cells also interferes with normal production and function of red and white blood cells and can cause bone destruction, leading to bone pain and fractures. Since myeloma often happens at several sites within the bone marrow, it is frequently referred to as numerous myeloma.
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Lymphomas are cancers of the white blood cells of the lymphatic system. There are B cell lymphomas and the rarer T cell lymphomas. There are also Non Hodgkin lymphomas which may also be categorised as indolent or aggressive, depending upon how quickly they are growing. They manifest as overproduction of white blood cells and not as solid tumours.
Leukemias originate within the tissues of the bone marrow, spleen, and lymph nodes. There are four primary types of leukemias, grouped by how quickly the disease gets worse and what type of white blood cell it affects. While acute leukemia progresses very rapidly, chronic leukemia gets worse slowly.