How is cancer classified?

Posted: November 3, 2014 in What is Cancer?
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There are five broad groups that are used to classify cancer.

  1. Carcinomas are characterized by cells that cover internal and external parts of the body such as lung, breast, and colon cancer.
  2. Sarcomas are characterized by cells that are located in bone, cartilage, fat, connective tissue, muscle, and other supportive tissues.
  3. Lymphomas are cancers that begin in the lymph nodes and immune system tissues.
  4. Leukemias are cancers that begin in the bone marrow and often accumulate in the bloodstream.
  5. Adenomas are cancers that arise in the thyroid, the pituitary gland, the adrenal gland, and other glandular tissues.

Cancers are often referred to by terms that contain a prefix related to the cell type in which the cancer originated and a suffix such as -sarcoma, -carcinoma, or just -oma. Common prefixes include:

  • Adeno- = gland
  • Chondro- = cartilage
  • Erythro- = red blood cell
  • Hemangio- = blood vessels
  • Hepato- = liver
  • Lipo- = fat
  • Lympho- = white blood cell
  • Melano- = pigment cell
  • Myelo- = bone marrow
  • Myo- = muscle
  • Osteo- = bone
  • Uro- = bladder
  • Retino- = eye
  • Neuro- = brain
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