Carcinoma Cancer Diagnosis
Carcinoma is a type of cancer that affects and starts in epithelial cells, typically these cells make up the skin and several internal organs. Carcinomas are very common (breast cancer ), but have a few rare forms as well (merkel-cell). Regardless of the location, the liver, kidneys, breasts, bladder or skin, a carcinoma is a cancer you shouldn’t ignore.
What is a Carcinoma?
A carcinoma is like any other form of cancer, it involves the uncontrolled, ungoverned and potential spreading of cells. However, with carcinoma, a specific type of cell is involved, the venerable epithelial cell. Making up one of the four main types of tissue which comprise the human body (the others being muscle tissue, nervous tissue and connective tissue), epithelial cells are by far the most common of the four.
A key characteristic of epithelial cells is their ability to form “sheets.” This characteristic makes them perfect for their role in lining major body cavities and organs like the kidneys, bladder, stomach, small intestine and so on. They create the structures of the lung, ducts and glands, form the skin, female reproductive system and act as sensory receptors, secretion sells, and even digestive absorption cells. As you can see, these hard working cells are involved in nearly every bodily function, so a cancer in this area could be catastrophic.
If you or someone you know has a carcinoma, it can involve one or many of these body systems.
Types of carcinoma
Despite affecting one type of cell, there are numerous types of carcinoma, some you may have heard of and others that are quite rare.
This cancer is more commonly known as adrenal cancer. Effecting the adrenal gland(s), adrenocortical carcinoma can have a drastic effect on hormone production, including cortisol. This hormone deals with stress reduction and metabolism. Adrenal cancer can also have an effect on blood pressure regulation and kidney function by affecting a hormone known as aldosterone.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC):
A common form of skin cancer effecting the top layer of skin known as the epidermis, which is made from squamous cells. Making up 20% of all skin cancers, SCC is quite common (a rare form is SCC breast cancer). SCC typically develops on sun exposed skin and can present with small, dome-shaped tumors known as keratoacanthomas.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC):
A sister skin cancer to squamous cell, basal cells sit just below squamous cells in the epidermis. An estimated 80% of skin cancers are BCC (this includes triple negative breast cancer ). Despite the common occurrence, BCC is slow growing and rarely spreads to other parts of the body.
Carcinoma of unknown primary (CUP):
A cancer of unknown primary is a cancer with an uncertain or unidentified point of origin. Cancers are diagnosed by where they start, not where they spread. This identification is important in choosing the right treatment option. Sometimes tumors are hidden or are consumed by immune responses. A CUP is still a carcinoma, but without an identifiable starting point. Cholangiocarcinoma: Bile duct cancer also called cholangiocarcinoma, is cancer of small ducts (tubes) that transport bile from the liver and gallbladder into the small intestine. Bile helps in smooth digestion. If the cancer affects the mucus glands of the ducts, the name is then adenocarcinoma (carcinoma of glands).
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS):
Also referred to as intraductal carcinoma, DCIS is a form of non-invasive breast cancer. DCIS affects the mammary glands of the breast (other carcinomas can also form in the breast, usually in the epithelial lining of the breast). The term “in situ” means “in place”, this is a cancer that doesn’t—or rarely—spreads.
Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC):
Sometimes called neuroendocrine carcinoma is rare form of skin cancer in which neuroendocrine cells (Merkel cells, part of nerve processes) are affected. MCC is by far the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Tumors may be red, pink or purple bumps on the skin and can even develop into skin ulcers. Early diagnosis and treatment of MCC is crucial as this cancer can spread quickly.
As a group of cancers that affect the sinonasal tract, the most common is a form of squamous cell carcinoma, followed by an adenocarcinoma affecting the salivary glands. The location of these cancers can be difficult to locate and treat. Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma: Affecting the thymus gland’s epithelial cells, tumors form in six (sometimes seven) ways. Thymoma is the common name for a tumor of the thymus gland, where thymic carcinoma refers to a specific type (and most dangerous form) of thymoma.
Transitional Cell Carcinoma (TCC):
TCC is common form of invasive or non-invasive bladder cancer. Typically starting in the transitional cells of the bladder (the inner most lining of the bladder wall), TCC can progress in four stages , each affecting another layer of the bladder wall. Some 67,000 new cases of TCC are expected every year.
Regardless of the specific type, a carcinoma is still a cancer, slow growing or not, in situ or invasive, early detection and treatment are always best. If you—or a loved one—may have cancer (in any form) get tested.
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