Types of Cancer

There are many different types of cancer and most cancers are named for the cell type, tissue or body organ from where they start. For example, bone cancer starts in a bone, lymphoma starts in the lymphatic system and cancer that begins in basal cells of the skin is called basal cell carcinoma.

The different types of cancer do share some similarities but also have many different characteristics. They vary in how they affect the individual, how they can be diagnosed, treated and what the outcome of any treatment might be.

Here we provide information about various tumour types. However, it must be stressed that these are general statements and it is important to discuss the various aspects of your pet’s diagnosis with your vet.

Information sheets for specific types of cancer will be added here for cats, dogs and other species as they are developed.

6 surprising facts about cancer in animals

Carcinoma

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Begins in the epithelium of either the skin or tissues that line internal organs, including the stomach, lungs, thyroid gland.

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Examples include hepatic carcinoma in the liver or mammary carcinoma in the mammary glands.

Sarcoma

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Begins in the connective or supportive tissues of bone, cartilage, fat, muscle and blood vessels.

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This group of tumours are either osteosarcomas (bone cancer) or soft tissue sarcomas.

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Examples include soft tissue sarcoma, which is a collective term for a group of tumours that arise from the skin and subcutaneous connective tissues including:

  • fat (liposarcoma)
  • fibrous connective tissue (fibrosarcoma)
  • ‘pericytes’ of small blood vessels below the skin (haemangiopericytoma)
  • vascular endothelium or the blood vessel walls (haemangiosarcoma of spleen or heart)

Blood Cancers

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Begin in the bone marrow and arise from the cells of the immune system. These cancers can quickly spread to lymph nodes and other organs in the body and are classified by cell type, location and speed of progression.

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Lymphoma (more correctly called lymphosarcoma) arises from lymphocytes called T-cells or B-cells in the lymph tissues of the body.

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Leukaemia begins in the blood-forming tissues of the lymphatic system or bone marrow and causes large numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the bloodstream.

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Myeloma begins in plasma cells, usually in the bone marrow.

Central nervous system cancers

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Begin in the tissues of the brain and spinal cord.

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Examples include meningioma and glioma as types of brain tumours.