Signet cell cancer

Signet cell cancer is a rare type of cancer that starts in glandular cells.

It is most often found in the stomach but can develop in other parts of the body. This includes the: 

  • breast
  • bowel
  • pancreas
  • bladder
  • lung

What are signet cells?

Our body is made up of billions of different types of cells that can only be seen under a microscope. These cells are grouped according to the job they do or the type of body tissue they make up. 

Signet cells are a type of epithelial cell called glandular cells. Epithelial tissue is skin tissue, covering and lining the body both inside and out.

Signet cell cancer is also called signet ring cell cancer. This is because under a microscope the cells look like signet rings.

Getting the right information

The treatment you have for signet cell cancer depends on where in the body the cancer starts. For example a signet cell cancer in the stomach is treated as a stomach cancer.

Cancers are named after the body organ they grow in, as well as the type of cell. So this cancer would also be called a signet cell stomach cancer.

More information

We have more information on tests, treatment and support if you have been diagnosed with cancer.


Coping with a diagnosis of a rare cancer can be especially difficult. Being well informed about your cancer and its treatment can make it easier to make decisions and cope with what happens.

Talking to other people who have the same thing can also help.

Our discussion forum Cancer Chat is a place for anyone affected by cancer. You can share experiences, stories and information with other people who know what you are going through.

You can call our nurse freephone helpline on 0808 800 4040. They are available from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Or you can send them a question online.

The Rare Cancer Alliance offer support and information to people affected by rare cancers.

Last reviewed: 
10 Dec 2018
  • Cancer and its management (7th edition)
    J Tobias and D Hochhauser
    Wiley Blackwell, 2015

  • Devita, Hellman and Rosenberg's Cancer Principles and Practice of Oncology (10th edition)
    VT Devita, TS Lawrence and SA Rosenberg
    Wolters Kluwer Health, 2015. 

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