Carcinoma – Understanding the various types of this cancer

The epithelial cells make up epithelial tissues that line the outside surfaces as well as the insides of various organs with cavities, and they also line the blood vessels throughout the body. The most common example is the outermost layer of the skin, which is lined by epithelial cells. Carcinoma is a common type of cancer that can also spread to other parts of the body, and it can be further classified into subtypes based on the type of cells it originates from.

The various types of carcinoma
Certain types of carcinomas are diagnosed more commonly than others, and these include:

  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Renal cell carcinoma
  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)
  • Invasive ductal carcinoma

Sometimes, different types of carcinoma can be found developing in the same organ, so it’s easier to categorize the condition based on the subtype rather than an organ in such cases. Let’s take a look at these types in detail:

Basal cell carcinoma
This is the most common type of skin cancer as well as the most common of all cancers. It starts in the cells that line the undermost part of the outer layer of the skin, and immediate medical intervention is required to prevent any type of scars. Having said that, it is rare for this type of carcinoma to spread and affect other parts of the body. The condition can be identified by a number of visible symptoms, including:

  • Red patches on the body
  • Open sores
  • Pink growths on the skin
  • Shiny scars or bumps on the body

In most cases, basal cell carcinoma is caused by overexposure to the sun. This could either have resulted in bad sunburns on one’s body, or they could be spending a lot of time in the sun regularly.

Squamous cell carcinoma
This type of carcinoma is often associated with skin cancer as it first shows on the skin, but it can also be seen in other parts of the body, including the cells lining certain organs as well as the digestive tract and the respiratory tract. This type of carcinoma usually affects an individual’s skin in the parts of their body that are exposed to harmful sun rays, and these include the ears, lips, face, neck, or even the back of the hands. Unlike basal cell carcinoma, this type of cancer grows and spreads to other parts of the body, and it may even affect the lymph nodes in severe cases.

Mentioned here are some of the visible signs of squamous cell carcinoma:

  • Red patches with a scaly texture
  • Open sores
  • Warts
  • Growths on the skin with a depression

Renal cell carcinoma
This type of carcinoma usually grows as a tumor inside the kidney and is the most common type of kidney cancer. In some cases, this type of carcinoma is diagnosed during an ultrasound or CT scan undertaken by a patient for some other reason. In extreme cases, the diagnosis comes after the cancer has already spread to other parts and the tumor has become too large.

This type of cancer begins in the glandular cells, which are epithelial cells responsible for secreting mucus and other fluids. Glandular cells are found in several organs of the body, which means adenocarcinoma can also affect any of these organs. The common types of this carcinoma include lung cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, and prostate cancer.

This type of carcinoma is identified by the presence of cancerous cells inside the breast ducts. In this condition, the cancer cells have not developed fully and have not affected other parts of the body yet, so almost everyone diagnosed with this type of carcinoma can be cured.

Invasive ductal carcinoma
This type of carcinoma originates in the milk duct and spreads to the fatty tissue in the breast. It can also affect other parts of the body by spreading through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. A mammogram is prescribed to diagnose invasive ductal carcinoma, and it can be detected as a suspicious lump through this test. The cancerous mass can also be discovered during a self-examination.

Other than the lump, this condition manifests the following symptoms:

  • Redness or rashes on the affected breast
  • The breast skin becoming thick
  • A swollen breast
  • New and unexplained pain in one breast
  • Dimples may form around the breast skin or the nipple area
  • Pain in the nipples, inward-turned nipples, or nipple discharge
  • Lumps developing in the underarms

Diagnosing carcinomas
Initially, the doctor will check a patient’s medical history and check for symptoms that point to any type of carcinoma by carrying out a physical examination. If there are any skin lesions, they will also be checked by the doctor to see whether they are caused due to squamous or basal cell carcinoma. The doctor will also look for various characteristics of the lesions, including:

  • The color and size of the lesions
  • The shape and texture of the lesions
  • The rate at which lesions are growing

Imaging tests can also help diagnose carcinoma. The results of these tests help a doctor observe the size and location of the carcinoma, and they also help them diagnose the severity of the condition by knowing whether the cancer has spread to any nearby or other areas of the body. Some of the common imaging tests used for the diagnosis of carcinoma are:

  • CT scans
  • MRI scans
  • X-rays

After confirming the diagnosis with the help of an imaging test, a biopsy may be prescribed by the doctor. A part, or in some cases, the entire skin lesion, is removed with the help of a small surgery, and it is then studied under a microscope to check whether it is cancerous and also to determine the type of cancer if so. Once this is determined, a course of targeted treatment is recommended accordingly.