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How many different types of cancer are there?

There are more than 200 different types of cancer. You can develop cancer in any body organ. There are over 60 different organs in the body where a cancer can develop.

Each organ is made up of several different types of cells. For example, there is usually a surface covering of skin (epithelial tissue). Underneath that there will be some connective tissue, often containing gland cells. Underneath that there is often a layer of muscle tissue and so on. Each type of tissue is made up of specific types of cells. 

Cancer can develop from almost any type of cell in the body. So there is usually more than one type of cancer that can develop in any one part of the body. Often though, one type of cancer will be much more common in a particular organ. 

For example, there are cells called transitional cells, squamous cells and adenomatous cells in the bladder. Cancer can develop in any of these cells, but is much more common in the transitional cells. So transitional cell bladder cancer is much more common than squamous cell cancer or adenocarcinoma, accounting for over 9 out of 10 cases of bladder cancer.

There are too many types of cancer to list them all here.  Go to our cancer types landing page to find a list of all the major cancer types.  The sub types are listed under their major cancer type.  So using the example above, the types of bladder cancer page tells you about transitional cell cancer, squamous cell cancer, adenocarcinoma and other even rarer types of bladder cancer.

Treatment is worked out depending on the type of cancer. So if you are looking for information about treating your type of cancer it is important to know

  • The part of the body where it started
  • The type of cell that has become cancerous

There is detailed information about treatment within the section for each different cancer type.


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Updated: 17 April 2013