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Cancer Types

These are some of the many types of cancer. Cancer is a name given to a group of diseases in which some of the body’s cells become abnormal and multiply out of control. These abnormal cells can then spread to other parts of the body where they cause further damage.

There are over 100 different types of cancer in humans. They are usually described by where in the body they start. For example, liver cancer first starts in the liver. Sometimes, the place where they start may not be known – this is called a cancer of “unknown primary”.

Risk Factors: A risk factor is anything associated with increasing the chance of developing cancer. Some of these are listed below. It is hard to know how much any single risk factor contributes to developing cancer. For most cancers, the causes are not fully understood.

TYPES OF

CANCER

BOWEL CANCER

BLADDER CANCER

BRAIN CANCER

BREAST CANCER

FEMALE REPRODUCTIVE

KIDNEY CANCER

LEUKAEMIA

LIVER CANCER

LUNG CANCER

LYMPHOMA

MELANOMA & SKIN CANCER

MYELOMA & BONE CANCER

PANCREATIC CANCER

PENILE CANCER

PROSTATE CANCER

STOMACH CANCER

TESTICULAR CANCER

THYROID CANCER

SHOW ALL

BOWEL

CANCER

What is it?

The bowel is the main part of your body’s digestive system and includes the colon, rectum and anus, and is also known as colo-rectal cancer. It is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the lining of the large bowel.

Risk factors include:increasing age; a history of bowel cancer, polyps or bowel disease; or a family history of bowel cancer or gynaecological cancer

What are the symptoms?

  • bleeding from the rectum (look at your poo)
  • symptoms of anaemia (being tired, pale, breathless)
  • a change in bowel habits – too loose or runny, or constipation
  • abdominal pain or cramping
  • bloating
  • weight loss

Many other conditions can cause these symptoms, so if you experience any it is best to see your doctor. More information here.

BLADDER

CANCER

What is it?

The bladder is in the lower abdomen, and stores your urine (pee), until it is released. Bladder cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the bladder grow uncontrolled.

Risk factors include: tobacco smoking; exposure to chemicals such as benzene, or exposure to radiotherapy treatment

What are the symptoms?

  • blood in the urine
  • frequent urination or urgency of urination
  • pain during urination
  • pain in the pelvis or lower back

Many other conditions can cause these symptoms, so if you experience any, it is best to see your doctor. More information:here.

BRAIN

CANCER

What is it?

The brain is part of the body’s central nervous system. Brain tumours can be benign or malignant. Brain cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the brain grow in an uncontrolled way.The most common malignant brain tumours are gliomas.

Risk factors include an increase in age or a family history of brain cancer.

What are the symptoms?

  • severe headaches, with or without nausea or vomiting
  • weakness on one side of the body
  • seizures
  • changes in thinking or personality
  • disturbed vision or speech
  • difficulty controlling movement

Many other conditions can cause these symptoms, so if you experience any, it is best to see your doctor. More information here.

BREAST

CANCER

What is it?

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Australian women. Over 15,000 women are diagnosed each year.

If it is found early it is one of the most survivable cancers. Most women survive breast cancer. Latest reports show the 5-year survival is more than 87%. In Australia the average age for first diagnosis is 60. About 75% of new cases are over age 50.

Risk factors include: increasing age; a family history of breast cancer; hormonal factors; child-bearing history; or personal and lifestyle choices

What are the symptoms?

  • a new lump or lumpiness, especially if it’s only in one breast
  • a change in the size or shape of the breast
  • a change to the nipple, such as crusting, ulcer, redness or inversion
  • a nipple discharge that occurs without squeezing
  • a change in the skin of the breast – such as redness or dimpling
  • an unusual pain that doesn’t go away

90% of breast changes are not caused by cancer but if you find something unusual see your doctor without delay.

FEMALE REPRODUCTIVE

(GYNAECOLOGICAL) CANCER

What are they?

Cancers of the female reproductive system are named after the organ where they first develop. They include:

  • Ovarian cancer – affects the ovaries, the organs that produce hormones and eggs.
  • Uterine cancer – begins in the uterus, the organ where a baby grows
  • Cervical cancer—begins in the cervix, the lower part of the uterus
  • Vaginal cancer—begins in the vagina (also called the birth canal)
  • Vulvar cancer—begins in the vulva, the outer part of the female reproductive system.
  • Fallopian tube cancer – occurs in the fallopian tube.

Risk factors include: increasing age; a family history; inheriting a faulty gene; tobacco smoking; obesity; reproductive history eg. child-bearing; exposure to hormones –such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT); endometriosis; viral infections such as HPV

What are the symptoms?

  • pain, pressure or discomfort in the abdomen
  • swelling of the abdomen
  • change in bowel or bladder habits
  • pain during sex
  • itching, burning or soreness
  • lumps, sores or wart-like growths
  • abnormal vaginal bleeding.eg. after menopause, abnormal periods or bleeding after sex
  • unusual vaginal discharges

The symptoms of these cancers depend on: where the tumour is situated, the size of the tumour and how quickly it is growing. Many other conditions can cause these symptoms, so if you experience any, see your doctor.

More information:

KIDNEY

CANCER

What is it?

The kidneys are located in the back of your abdominal cavity. They clean the blood, removing wastes to produce urine. Kidney cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the kidney grow in an uncontrolled way.

Risk factors include: tobacco smoking; obesity; high-blood pressure (hypertension); long-term use of some pain medications; or certain genetic conditions

What are the symptoms?

Often there are no symptoms of kidney cancer until the late stages. Look for:

  • blood in the urine
  • a lump in the abdomen
  • pain in the side that does not go away
  • loss of appetite
  • unexplained weight loss
  • anaemia (feeling tired, pale, breathless)

Many other conditions can cause these symptoms, so if you experience any, it is best to see your doctor. More information: here.

LEUKAEMIA

CANCER

What is it?

In the blood, white blood cells help the body fight infections. Leukaemia occurs when abnormal cells within the bone marrow grow in an uncontrolled way, effecting the production of white blood cells.

Risk factors include: exposure to high levels of radiation, such as radiation from an atomic bomb explosion; exposure to chemicals such as benzene; previous treatment with chemotherapy or radiotherapy; having certain genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome; a history of other blood disorders, such as myelodysplastic syndrome; tobacco smoking; or a family history of leukaemia

What are the symptoms?

  • swollen or enlarged lymph nodes (neck or armpit)
  • unexplained fevers
  • night sweats
  • frequent infections
  • fatigue, feeling tired or weak
  • easy bruising or bleeding
  • a swollen abdomen
  • unexplained weight loss
  • pain in the bones or joints

Many other conditions can cause these symptoms, so if you experience any, it is best to see your doctor. More information here.

LIVER

CANCER

What is it?

The liver is inside the abdomen, under the ribs, and is one of the body’s largest organs. It filters waste products from the blood, makes bile to digest fats, and stores sugars that the body can use for energy. Liver cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the liver grow in an uncontrolled way.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is anything associated with increasing the chance of developing cancer. Some of these are listed below. It is hard to know how much any single risk factor contributes to developing cancer. For most cancers, the causes are not fully understood.

Risk factors include: chronic hepatitis B or C; a family history of hepatitis B or liver cancer; cirrhosis of the liver; or obesity

What are the symptoms?

  • a feeling of discomfort on the upper right side of the abdomen
  • a hard lump on the right side of the abdomen
  • pain in the upper back, around the right shoulder blade
  • unexplained weight loss
  • yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes
  • unusual tiredness
  • loss of appetite and/or nausea

Many other conditions can cause these symptoms, so if you experience any, it is best to see your doctor. More information here.

LUNG

CANCER

What is it?

The lungs are part of the body’s respiratory system. They are made up of a series of airways called bronchi and they end in tiny air sacs called alveoli. Lung cancer occurs when abnormal cells in one or both lungs grow in an uncontrolled way.

Risk Factors

  • tobacco smoking
  • exposure to:
  • passive smoking
  • radon exposure
  • asbestos
  • diesel exhausts
  • a family history of lung cancer
  • previous lung diseases such as
  • lung fibrosis
  • chronic bronchitis
  • emphysema; or
  • pulmonary tuberculosis

What are the symptoms?

  • a new or changed cough
  • coughing up blood
  • a chest infection that won’t go away
  • chest pain and/or shoulder pain
  • shortness of breath
  • hoarse voice
  • weight loss or loss of appetite

Many other conditions can cause these symptoms, so if you experience any, it is best to see your doctor. More information here.

LYMPHOMA

What is it?

The lymphatic system is part of the body’s immune system. It includes tissues such as the bone marrow, tonsils and spleen, as well as lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes. Lymphatic vessels are tiny vessels that collect waste products from the body’s tissues in fluid called lymph. Lymph contains white blood cells including cells called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes help protect the body against infections.

Lymphoma occurs when abnormal cells within the lymphatic system of the body grow in an uncontrolled way.

Risk factors include: weakened immune system from an immune disorder, an autoimmune disease or HIV/AIDs; taking immuno-suppressant drugs; infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV; a family history of lymphoma; or tobacco smoking

What are the symptoms?

  • swollen or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, groin or stomach
  • unexplained fever
  • night sweats
  • unexplained weight loss
  • pain in the chest or abdomen
  • unexplained, persistent cough
  • feeling tired

Many other conditions can cause these symptoms, so if you experience any, it is best to see your doctor. More information here.

MELANOMA
& SKIN

CANCER

What is it?

The skin is the body’s largest organ. It is made up of two main layers: the epidermis or outer layer, and the dermis or inner layer. Melanoma, a type of skin cancer, occurs when abnormal cells in the skin grow in an uncontrolled way.

Risk factors include:

  • changes in size, shape or colour of an existing mole
  • a mole with irregular edges or borders
  • a mole that is more than one colour
  • a mole that itches
  • a change in pigmented skin
  • a new mole that grows near an existing mole

What are the symptoms?

  • a history of melanoma or other skin cancer
  • having large or many small moles
  • having fair skin, and/or light-coloured, blonde or red hair
  • exposure to the sun or ultraviolet radiation, such as sunbeds
  • a family history of melanoma

Many other conditions can cause these symptoms, so if you experience any, it is best to see your doctor. More information here.

MYELOMA

BONE CANCER

What is it?

Plasma cells develop in the bone marrow from lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. Plasma cells make antibodies that help the body fight infection. Myeloma occurs when plasma cells become myeloma cells. These cells then build up and form tumours in the bones of the body.

Risk factors include: increasing age; a family history of multiple myeloma; exposure to high dose radiation, and certain chemicals.

Risk factors include:

  • bone pain, usually felt in the back or ribs
  • bones that break easily
  • unexplained fever and frequent infections
  • tiredness (caused by anaemia)
  • easy bruising or bleeding

Many other conditions can cause these symptoms, so if you experience any, it is best to see your doctor. More information here.

PANCREATIC

CANCER

What is it?

The pancreas is a small gland next to the stomach that produces hormones such as insulin and enzymes that help digest food. Pancreatic cancer occurs when abnormal cells of the pancreas grow in an uncontrolled way.

Risk factors include: tobacco smoking; pancreatitis – chronic inflammation of the pancreas; inherited genetic conditions; Type-2 diabetes.

Risk factors include:

  • yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • pain in the upper or middle back or abdomen1
  • unexplained weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • unusual tiredness

Many other conditions can cause these symptoms, so if you experience any, it is best to see your doctor. More information here.

PENILE

CANCER

What is it?

The penis is the male reproductive organ that allows the release of sperm and urine. Penile cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the penis.

Risk factors include: being age 60 or older; having phimosis; poor personal hygiene; having many sexual partners; using tobacco.

Risk factors include:

  • Redness, irritation, or a sore on the penis
  • A lump on the penis

Many other conditions can cause these symptoms, so if you experience any, it is best to see your doctor. More information: here.

PROSTATE

CANCER

What is it?

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Australian men and the second most common cause of cancer deaths in men.

Prostate cancer is caused when cells reproduce in an uncontrollable manner, creating a mass of tissue, or tumour. In time this may spread to other parts of the body and become life-threatening. If detected early, prostate cancer is potentially curable.

Risk factors include:

Early-stage, curable prostate cancer may not have symptoms, but a simple test by your GP can indicate prostate cancer. While younger men are less likely to be diagnosed with it, those who do get it are more likely to die prematurely from it.

What are the symptoms?

  • pain or burning during urination
  • blood in the urine or semen
  • constant pain in the back, hips, or pelvis
  • pain during ejaculation

Note that these symptoms are not always signs of prostate cancer. They can also be symptoms of other common and non-life threatening prostate disorders. If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your doctor immediately.

STOMACH

CANCER

What is it?

The stomach is part of the body’s digestive system. It is located in the upper abdomen. Stomach cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow in an uncontrolled way.

Risk factors include: having a stomach condition, such as polyps or gastritis; diets high in salt, smoked foods or meat, or low in fruit and vegetables; increasing age; tobacco smoking, or a family history of stomach cancer.

What are the symptoms?

  • feelings of indigestion or heartburn
  • nausea
  • trouble swallowing
  • feeling full or bloated even if only eating small portions
  • pain in the stomach or abdomen
  • unexplained weight loss

Many other conditions can cause these symptoms, so if you experience any, it is best to see your doctor. More information here.

TESTICULAR

CANCER

What is it?

The testicles are part of the male reproductive system, located near the penis. Testicular cancer occurs when abnormal cells of the pancreas grow in an uncontrolled way.

Risk factors include: young male 20-40; undescended testes; previous testicular cancer; Down syndrome; a family history; previous male infertility.

What are the symptoms?

  • a painless lump or swelling in either testicle
  • a change in how the testicle feels
  • an ache in the lower abdomen or groin
  • a sudden build-up of fluid in the scrotum
  • pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum.

Many other conditions can cause these symptoms, so if you experience any, it is best to see your doctor. More information here.

THYROID

CANCER

What is it?

The thyroid is a gland in the throat. It produces hormones that help control the body’s heart rate, temperature, and metabolism. Thyroid cancer occurs when abnormal cells of the pancreas grow in an uncontrolled way.

Risk factors include:

  • exposure to radiation
  • family history of thyroid disease or thyroid cancer
  • genetic conditions

What are the symptoms?

  • a lump or swelling in the throat
  • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • difficulty swallowing – this is called dysphagia
  • a hoarse voice or a cough that doesn’t go away.
  • enlarged lymph nodes in the neck

Many other conditions can cause these symptoms, so if you experience any, it is best to see your doctor. More information here.

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