What are the major types of cancer?

Although there are hundreds of different cancers, there are five major categories: carcinoma, sarcoma, myeloma, leukaemia and lymphoma. There are also some cancers of mixed types.

  • Carcinoma: Malignancy (ie cancer) of the internal or external lining of the body. For example, squamous or epidermoid carcinoma of skin, lip, tongue, cervix.
  • Sarcoma: Malignancy of connective tissue origin. For example, bone, cartilage, skeletal muscle, fibrous tissue, neurongenic connective tissue.
  • Myeloma: Malignancy of plasma cell series (cells which produce some of the proteins found in the blood). These cells are generally found in the bone marrow.
  • Lymphoma: Cancer of cells of the lymph nodes or of similar cells which may occur elsewhere.
  • Leukaemia: Malignancy of the blood-forming elements of the bone marrow.
  • Mixed types: Cancer composed of different tissue types. The type components may be within one category or from different categories.