Types of cancer

By no means a single disease with a single treatment, there are over 200 types of cancer. Each type has its own name and treatment. Click on the links below to find out more about them.

Or find it alphabetically:

A

Adrenal gland tumours

The adrenal glands are part of the body’s endocrine system. Cancer in the adrenal glands can affect how the body produces hormones.

Anal cancer

Cancer that starts in the anus is rare, with only about 1,000 new cases in the UK every year. The anus is the opening at the end of the bowel.

B

Bile duct cancer

Bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma) is rare. It is almost always a type of cancer called adenocarcinoma, which starts in the lining of the bile duct.

Bladder cancer

Every year, there are about 10,000 new cases of bladder cancer in the UK. Of these, eight out of 10 are early bladder cancer.

Blood cancers

There isn’t just one type of cancer of the blood – there are many different blood cancers. Leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma are some of the main cancers of the blood.

Bone cancer

Bone cancers can start in the bone (primary) or can start elsewhere in the body and spread to the bones (secondary). This section is only about primary bone cancer.

Secondary bone cancer

Secondary bone cancer occurs when cancer cells spread to the bone. These cells spread from a primary tumour elsewhere in the body.

Bowel cancer

Bowel cancer is also called colorectal cancer, or cancer of the colon or rectum. This is because the large bowel includes the rectum and colon.

Brain tumours

Brain tumours can be either cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign). This section is about both types of primary brain tumour (a tumour that starts in the brain).

Secondary brain tumours

Secondary brain tumours occur when cancer cells spread to the brain from a cancer that started in another part of the body.

Breast cancer in women

Breast cancer is more common in women aged 50 and over, but it can also affect younger women. This section covers breast cancer in women that hasn't spread elsewhere in the body.

Breast cancer in men

Breast cancer in men is rare, although it is possible. About 350 men in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.

Breast cancer - secondary

Secondary breast cancer is cancer that starts in the breast and then spreads to other parts of the body.

C

Carcinoid tumours

Carcinoid tumours affect the neuroendocrine system. This is the system which releases hormones into the body to control the functioning of other organs.

Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer develops in a woman's cervix (the entrance to the womb from the vagina. It’s more common in women aged 30-39, but it can also affect younger and older women.

Colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is cancer that develops in the bowel. This can be colon cancer or cancer of the rectum. It is more common in people over 60.

E

Ear cancer

If cancer starts in the ear, this is ear cancer. Ear cancer is very rare and is usually a type of skin cancer.

Endocrine tumours

The endocrine system produces hormones – chemicals that control many bodily functions. Tumours can occur in this system. Most endocrine tumours are benign (non-cancerous), but some are malignant (cancerous).

Eye cancer

Cancer that starts in the eye is rare. Eye cancer is usually a type of skin cancer, called melanoma.

G

Gall bladder cancer

Gall bladder cancer is rare. It's very rare in people under 50 and is most often seen in people over 70. It's more common in women than men.

Gastro oesophageal junction cancer

Gastro oesophageal junction cancer

Germ cell tumours

Germ cells develop in egg cells and sperm cells. Cancer that starts in these cells is a germ cell tumour.

Gullet - Oesophagus cancer

Oesophageal cancer affects the gullet – the tube that takes food from the throat to the stomach. There are two main types of oesophageal cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.

H

Head and neck cancer

There isn’t just one type of head and neck cancer. There are over 30 different places that cancer can develop in the head and neck area.

K

Kidney cancer

With kidney cancer, usually only one kidney is affected, and it's rare for cancer to affect the other kidney. Kidney cancer is more common in men than in women.

L

Laryngeal cancer

Around 2,300 people in the UK are diagnosed with cancer of the larynx every year. Most cancers of the larynx begin on, or near, one of the vocal cords.

Leukaemia

There are a number of different types of leukaemia. The type of leukaemia depends on the type of white blood cell affected.

Leukaemia - acute lymphoblastic (ALL)

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is a rare type of cancer. It affects how the body produces white blood cells and this can affect how the body fights infection.

Leukaemia - acute myeloid (AML)

AML is a rare type of cancer that affects blood cells. It can affect people at any age but is more common in people over 65.

Leukaemia - chronic lymphocytic (CLL)

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is the most common type of leukaemia. With CLL, the body makes too many undeveloped white blood cells.

Leukaemia - chronic myeloid (CML)

Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) is a type of leukaemia that usually develops very slowly. It can occur at any age but is more common in middle-aged and older people.

Liver cancer

Liver cancer is a rare type of cancer which starts in the liver. It’s different from secondary liver cancer, where cancer starts elsewhere in the body and spreads to the liver.

Liver cancer - secondary

Secondary liver cancer is where cancer spreads to the liver from another part of the body. If cancer cells enter the bloodstream, they can settle in the liver.

Lung cancer

There are a number of different types of lung cancer. The main types of lung cancer are small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Lung cancer - secondary

If a cancer spreads to the lungs from another part of the body, this is secondary lung cancer (also called metastatic lung cancer).

Lymph node cancer - secondary

If cancer spreads into the lymph nodes from elsewhere in the body, this is secondary lymph node cancer. Cancer that starts in the lymph nodes is called lymphoma.

Lymphoma - Hodgkin

Lymphoma is cancer that starts in the lymph nodes. Lymphoma is usually Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) or non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). The difference is in the type of cells the lymphoma affects.

Lymphoma - Non Hodgkin

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is a type of cancer that starts in the lymph nodes. NHL is the fifth most common cancer in the UK.

M

Melanoma

Melanoma is a cancer that usually starts in the skin. It can either start in a mole or in normal-looking skin. About half of all melanomas start in normal-looking skin.

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a tumour of the thin lining that covers the outer surface of most of the body's organs. This lining is called the mesothelium.

Mouth cancers

Mouth cancers can develop on the lip, tongue, the floor of the mouth or anywhere else inside the mouth.

Myeloma

Myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow. You may also hear it called multiple myeloma or myelomatosis.

N

Nasal cancers

Nasal cancers are cancers that develop inside the nose. These cancers are rare.

Nasopharyngeal cancer

Nasopharyngeal cancer is cancer that starts in the nasopharynx. This is the upper part of the throat, behind the nose.

Neuroendocrine tumours

A neuroendocrine tumour (NET) is a tumour of the neuroendocrine system. The neuroendocrine system releases hormones into the body to control the functioning of other organs.

O

Ovarian cancer - advanced

Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the UK. If it’s more advanced, it can affect other organs in the pelvis such as the rectum, bowel or bladder.

Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is cancer that develops in the ovaries. It is one of the most common types of cancer in women. Ovarian cancer is more common in women over 50.

P

Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is cancer that develops in the pancreas. The pancreas is a large gland in the body’s digestive system.

Penile cancer

Penile cancer (cancer of the penis) is rare. There are approximately 500 new cases in the UK every year. It is more common in men aged between 50 and 70.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men and is more likely to affect men over 50. It develops in the prostate, a small gland in the pelvis.

Pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP)

Pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP) usually begins as a slow-growing tumour in the appendix. Occasionally, it can start in other parts of the bowel, ovary or bladder.

S

Salivary gland cancer

Cancer that starts in the salivary glands is very rare. The salivary glands are the glands in the mouth and throat that make spit.

Schwannoma

A schwannoma is a tumour that starts in the nerve sheath. This is the tissue that covers the nerves.

Secondary cancers (metastases)

When a cancer starts in one place in the body and spreads elsewhere, this is a secondary cancer or a ‘metastasis’.

Skin cancer

There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. This section covers basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Soft tissue sarcomas

Soft tissue sarcomas are cancers that develop from cells in the soft, supporting tissues of the body. They are a rare type of cancer.

Spinal cord tumours

Several types of tumour can develop in the spinal cord and not all of these are malignant (cancerous).

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma

Stomach cancer

There are different types of stomach cancer. This section is about adenocarcinoma, the most common type of stomach cancer. Adenocarcinoma accounts for 95% of stomach cancers.

T

Testicular cancer

Testicular cancer is cancer that develops in the testicle. It’s a rare type of cancer and is more likely to affect young or middle-aged men.

Thymoma and thymic carcinoma

The thymus gland is a gland organ in your chest in the body’s immune system. Cancer of the thymus gland is usually thymoma or thymic carcinoma.

Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer is cancer that develops in the thyroid. The thyroid is a small gland in the front of the neck just below the voicebox (larynx).

Tracheal - windpipe carcinoma

Tracheal cancer is cancer that develops in the trachea. The trachea (windpipe) is the tube that connects your mouth and nose to your lungs.

U

Unknown primary cancer

Cancer of unknown primary (CUP) is when there is a case of secondary cancer but doctors can't tell where the cancer first started, even after they’ve carried out tests.

V

Vaginal cancer

Vaginal cancer is cancer that starts in the vagina. It is rare but more common in older women.

Vulval cancer

Vulval cancer can occur on any part of the external female sex organs. Cancer of the vulva is rare.

W

Womb - uterus cancer

Womb cancer affects the female reproductive system. It’s more likely to affect women after the menopause. It is also called endometrial cancer.