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Overview: Cancer Subtypes

Jessica Evert, MD, edited by Benjamin McDonald, MD

Though cancer is often thought of as a single disease there are in fact many different cancer variations. Each different type of cancer has a different set of risk factors, different rates of progression, different treatment options, and a different prognosis. Further, the subtypes of cancer get classified and named based on the area of the body where they are originally observed. For instance, breast cancer starts in the breast and lung cancer begins in the lungs. Though cancers do share disease processes in common, there is not really one form of cancer; there are, instead, many different types.

We have elected to provide more detailed information on five of the most common types of cancer in the following sections of this topic center. These five subtypes are: breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and skin cancers. These subtypes were chosen based on their being either common, or representative across sexes.

For each of these cancer subtypes we highlight information regarding symptoms, prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Please look towards more cancer-specific resource websites and books if you require information on forms of cancer we have not been able to cover.

  • Breast Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Skin Cancer