Bile duct cancer starts in one of the bile ducts, which are a series of thin tubes that reach from the liver to the small intestine. The major function of the bile ducts is to move bile from the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine, where it helps digest the fats in food.
The adrenals are small glands responsible for the release of adrenaline that sit above each kidney. Most adrenal cortex tumors, called adenomas, are benign (non-cancerous); only rarely are they malignant (cancerous).
These tumors are masses of abnormal cells in the brain or spinal cord that have grown out of control. Brain and spinal cord tumors in children tend to be different from those in adults. In children, these tumors often form in different places, develop from different cell types, and may have a different treatment and prognosis.
Due to the various tissues found in the breast, there are many categories of breast cancer, including ductal carcinoma in situ, invasive ductal carcinoma, invasive lobular carcinoma, medullary carcinoma, and Paget disease of the nipple.
Castleman disease (CD), also known as giant lymph node hyperplasia and angiofollicular lymph node hyperplasia (AFH), is a rare disease of lymph nodes and related tissues. It is not a cancer but a lymphoproliferative disorder, which means there is an abnormal overgrowth of cells of the lymph system that is similar to cancers of lymph nodes.
These tumors are masses of abnormal cells in the brain or spinal cord that have grown out of control. The main concerns with these tumors are how readily they spread through the surrounding area and how even so-called benign tumors can, as they grow, press on and destroy normal brain and nervous tissue.
A breast cancer is a group of abnormal cells in the breast that may grow into (invade) surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body. Breast cancer occurs mainly in women, but men can get it, too.
The esophagus is the hollow, muscular tube that conveys food and liquid from the throat to the stomach. Cancer of the esophagus (also referred to as esophageal cancer) starts in the inner layer (the mucosa) and grows outward (through the submucosa and the muscle layer). Because two types of cells can line the esophagus, there are two main types of esophageal cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.
Colorectal cancer is a term used for cancer that starts in the colon or the rectum, which comprise the final section of the lower intestine. These cancers can also be referred to separately as colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where they start.
Gallbladder cancer starts in the gallbladder, an organ that stores bile that aids in digesting fats. About 9 out of 10 gallbladder cancers are adenocarcinomas, which means they start in gland-like cells that line many internal and external surfaces of the body.
Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, is a cancer that starts in the stomach, where food and gastric juices are mixed to form a thick fluid before entering the small intestine to be broken down for nutrients to be absorbed.
Carcinoid tumors start in cells of the diffuse neuroendocrine system, which consists of cells that are like nerves in some ways and like hormone-producing endocrine cells in other ways. They are scattered throughout the body in organs like the stomach, intestines, appendix, rectum and lungs.
Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are uncommon tumors of the GI tract. These tumors start in very early forms of special cells found in the wall of the GI tract, called the interstitial cells of Cajal (ICCs), which signal the muscles in the digestive system to contract and move food and liquid.
Kidney cancer is a cancer that starts in the kidneys. Renal cell carcinoma (RCC), also known as renal cell cancer or renal cell adenocarcinoma, is by far the most common type of kidney cancer. About 9 out of 10 kidney cancers are renal cell carcinomas.
Kaposi sarcoma (KS) is a cancer that develops from the cells that line lymph or blood vessels. It usually appears as tumors on the skin or on mucosal surfaces such as inside the mouth, but tumors can also develop in other parts of the body, such as in the lymph nodes, lungs or digestive tract.
Leukemia is a cancer of the early blood-forming cells. Most often, leukemia is a cancer of the white blood cells, but it may start in other blood cell types as well. Leukemia is often described as being either acute (fast growing) or chronic (slow growing).
The liver is the largest internal organ in your body and is responsible for the breakdown and absorption of nutrients, the production of clotting factors in the blood and for filtering toxic waste from the blood.
There are 3 main types of lung cancer: non–small cell lung cancer, which is the most common; small cell lung cancer, which comprises 10-15% of cases and spreads very quickly; and lung carcinoid tumors, which are typically slow growing and rarely spread.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (sometimes called NHL, or just lymphoma) is a cancer that starts in the white blood cells, also called lymphocytes. The condition can be further categorized as having either an indolent (slow growing) course or an aggressive (fast growing) course.
Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer that starts in the immune system’s white blood cells, which are also called lymphocytes. It is differentiated from other lymphomas by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell.
Lymphoma is a cancer that starts in white blood cells, or lymphocytes, that are part of the body's immune system. Rare lymphomas that start in lymphocytes of the skin are called skin lymphomas (or cutaneous lymphomas).
Often shortened to MDS, this type of cancer occurs when damaged cells in the bone marrow make defective blood cells. The body destroys the defective cells, which can leave a person with low blood counts. In some cases, MDS can progress to leukemia.
A type of cancer seen in children and infants, neuroblastomas are made up of immature nerve cells. Most often, a neuroblastoma starts in the adrenal glands, near the spine or in the trunk of the body (belly, chest or pelvis).
Also called osteogenic sarcoma, this type of cancer starts in the bones, specifically the cells called osteoblasts, which build bones up and give them their strength. This cancer is seen mainly in teens and children, although it can also affect young adults.
Pancreatic cancer starts in the pancreas. This organ contains exocrine glands that secrete digestive enzymes into the intestines, as well as a small number of endocrine glands that create and release hormones like insulin and glucagon directly into the blood.
The prostate is a gland found only in males that makes some of the fluid that protects and nourishes sperm cells in semen. Several types of cells are found in the prostate, but almost all prostate cancers develop from the gland cells.
A retinoblastoma is a type of cancer that starts in the nerve cells lining the back of the eyeball (retina). It’s most often seen in developing babies, when cells called retinoblasts fail to become mature retina cells and instead continue to divide and grow out of control.
This cancer begins in one of several different tissues of the penis. The majority of penile cancers begin in the skin cells; however, other forms can develop in the sweat glands, blood vessels, smooth muscle tissue or other connective tissue of the penis.
By far the most common type of cancer, skin cancer can develop in any of various types of skin cells, from sun-exposed epidermis, to pigment-producing melanocytes, to lymphoid (immune system) tissue in the skin.
Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, is a cancer that starts in the stomach. These cancers tend to develop slowly over many years. Precancerous changes often occur in the inner lining (mucosa) of the stomach and can go undetected due to a lack of noticeable symptoms.
Small intestine cancers develop in the small intestine, where enzymes break down food and most nutrients are absorbed. Like colon cancer, small intestine cancers often begin as benign growths called polyps before becoming malignant.
The thymus gland is a small organ located just behind the breastbone (sternum) that produces T cells, a type of white blood cell, during fetal development and childhood. Cancers of the thymus gland are very uncommon.
Thyroid cancer is a cancer that starts in the thyroid gland, a gland located below the thyroid cartilage (Adam’s apple) in the front part of the neck. The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate metabolism.
Most cancers of the vulva are squamous cell carcinomas, which begin in skin cells of the outer part of the female genitals. A smaller percentage of vaginal cancers develop in the Bartholin glands, which produce a mucus-like fluid.
A physician administers a special dye called barium into the patient’s rectum and colon through the anus. An x-ray is then taken, with the barium showing up bright white, clearly outlining the colon and rectum. Abnormalities such as inflammation, polyps (precancerous growths) and cancer are then visible.
A bone scan is an imaging test in which a doctor injects a very small amount of a radioactive substance (tracer) to find or monitor cancer that started in the bones or that has spread to the bones from another part of the body.
In a computed tomography (CT) scan, also called a CAT scan, a trained technologist positions the patient on the CT examination table. The table moves through the scanner while x-rays take highly detailed images of the body. These images are used to find out the cancer’s stage (where it is located, where it has spread and whether it is affecting the functions of other organs in the body).
A blood transfusion is a procedure in which blood or a blood component is transferred from one individual (donor) to another (recipient). Cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation, or the cancer itself may necessitate a transfusion. A person may choose to donate whole blood or specific parts of the blood, such as platelets or red blood cells.
Often an effective alternative to bone marrow transplantation, donated umbilical cord blood is a possible treatment for leukemia, other cancers and immune and genetic disorders. The procedure is quick and painless; a doctor simply clamps and cuts a newborn’s umbilical cord and saves the placenta, conserving approximately 3 to 5 fluid ounces of blood containing the same hematopoietic stem cells found in bone marrow.
In a colonoscopy, the doctor inserts a colonoscope, which is a flexible tube with a small video camera attached to it, into the anus so that he may look inside the entire large intestine to screen for polyps or cancerous cells.
During a DRE, the doctor gently inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel for lumps, soft or hard spots, and other abnormalities. Additional tests may be needed if an area of concern is found.
A bone marrow transplant is a medical procedure used to replace diseased bone marrow with healthy bone marrow. Collecting stem cells from bone marrow involves surgery and is done in the operating room. Donors are given anesthesia and a physician inserts needles through the skin and into the bone to draw the marrow out of the bone.
In an electrocardiogram and an echocardiogram (EKG or ECG), a nurse or medical technician places stickers (called leads or electrodes) with wires connected to them on the patient’s chest. These leads collect information about the heart’s electrical activity, which the doctor then interprets. Chemotherapy patients may need one of these tests before, during or after treatment to identify pre-existing heart conditions to identify chemotherapy-related heart damage.
A multigated acquisition (MUGA) scan creates video images of the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart that hold blood) to check whether they are pumping blood properly and if there are abnormalities in the size of the ventricles or the movement of the blood through the heart. It is performed by a specially trained and certified nuclear medicine technologist and supervised by a radiologist (a medical doctor who specializes in using imaging tests to diagnose disease).
In an ultrasound, a doctor or ultrasound technologist, called a sonographer, places a transducer, which resembles a microphone, on the patient’s body. The transducer sends high-frequency sound waves into the body and then listens for the returning echoes to create images that appear on a console screen.
A fecal occult blood test (FOBT) is a test that may be used to search for signs of colorectal cancer or other health conditions, usually blood in the stool. The doctor will require the collection of three stool samples taken one day apart, because colon cancers may bleed from time to time, rather than consistently.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test that uses magnetic fields, not x-rays, to produce detailed images of the body, helping a doctor find, evaluate, or monitor a cancer. The patient lies inside a narrow tube on a platform specially designed for the procedure while a doctor or trained technician initiates the scan.
Mammography is a type of x-ray that checks for breast cancer in women. The images produced by mammography, called mammograms, show small tumors or other irregularities in the breast that cannot be felt by the doctor in a conventional exam.
A doctor gently inserts a flexible tube with a camera into the sigmoid colon through the anus to look for abnormalities inside the lower 20 inches of the sigmoid colon and rectum (also called the large intestine). The large intestine plays an important role in the body’s ability to process waste.
In an upper endoscopy, a doctor inserts a flexible tube with an attached camera into the mouth and down the esophagus to examine the upper part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, including the esophagus (the muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach), stomach and duodenum (the top of the small intestine).
Some cancers cause internal bleeding; others affect the bone marrow, resulting in low blood counts. In these cases where new healthy blood is needed, a nurse or physician inserts an IV line into one of the patient’s blood vessels and administers healthy blood or blood products of the patient’s same blood type.
Brachytherapy is internal radiation. It involves implanting radioactive isotopes inside or near a tumor, or ingesting a radioactive substance by mouth or tube. Brachytherapy can be permanent, temporary or may be a radiation source that the body eventually sheds by itself. Brachytherapy delivers a concentrated dosage of radiation directly to the tumor.
In chemotherapy (chemo), physicians administer medicines or drugs that stop or slow the growth of cancerous cells. Depending on the case, these medicines can destroy cancer cells outright or make tumors smaller in preparation for surgery or radiation therapy.
The idea of using heat to treat cancer has been around for some time, but early attempts had mixed results. Today, physicians use state-of-the-art tools to allow the precise delivery of heat, and hyperthermia is being studied for use against many types of cancer.
In photodynamic therapy (PDT), physicians inject special drugs, called photosensitizing agents, into the bloodstream. These drugs are absorbed by cancer cells, and when the cells are exposed to light, the drug reacts with oxygen, forming a chemical that kills the cells.
Physicians treat malignant brain tumors by destroying them with a concentrated dose of gamma radiation. This surgery is noninvasive (meaning there is no incision or actual "knife") and is designed to cause less pain and cost less than conventional surgery.
Immunotherapy is treatment that uses your body's own immune system to help fight cancer. Physicians stimulate a patient’s immune system in a variety of ways, training it to work harder or teaching it to attack cancer cells specifically. In other cases, a doctor may administer man-made immune system proteins to attack malignant cells.
A surgeon uses specialized instruments to access areas inside the body to diagnose, treat or even help prevent cancer in some cases. Surgically removing cancerous cells is often the greatest chance for cure, especially if the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body.
Targeted therapy, also known as biotherapy, is a newer type of cancer treatment where doctors administer drugs or other substances to more precisely identify and attack cancer cells, usually while doing little damage to normal cells. Targeted therapy is a growing part of many cancer treatment regimens.