Different types of cancer

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This information is designed to support you to understand how specific cancers are diagnosed, treated and how to find additional support. This is important as no two cancers are exactly the same in testing, treatments or side effects experienced.

You can download or order any of our Understanding Cancer booklets via our online order form which go into more detail about each cancer

If you can’t find what you are looking call Cancer Council 13 11 20 to speak to a member of our Cancer Information and Support team.

Bowel cancer

Bowel cancer is cancer in any part of the large bowel (colon or rectum). It is sometimes also known as colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where it starts. Bowel cancer grows from the inner lining of the bowel (mucosa). It usually develops from small growths on the bowel wall called polyps. On this…

Brain tumour

A brain or spinal cord tumour occurs when abnormal cells grow and form a mass or a lump. The tumour may be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous), but both types can be serious and may need urgent treatment. A brain tumour may be a primary or a secondary cancer. Cancer that first develops in…

Breast cancer

Breast cancer is the abnormal growth of cells lining the breast ducts or lobules. These cells grow uncontrollably and have the potential to spread to other parts of the body. Both women and men can develop breast cancer, although breast cancer is rare in men. Most breast cancers are found when they are invasive. Invasive…

Cancer of the uterus

Cancer of the uterus begins from abnormal cells in the lining of the uterus (endometrium), the muscle tissue (myometrium), or the connective tissue supporting the endometrium (stroma). Uterine cancer can be either endometrial cancer (around 95% of all uterine cancers) or the less common uterine sarcoma. On this page you will find information on: How…

Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix. Cancer most commonly begins in the area of the cervix called the transformation zone, but it may spread to tissues around the cervix, such as the vagina, or to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or liver. On…

Gynaecological cancers

Gynaecological cancers are those involving the female reproductive organs and occur when abnormal cells grow in an uncontrolled way. Types of gynaecological cancers: Gynaecological cancers are named according to the organ or part of the body where they first develop. Click on the title to find out more. Ovarian cancer Uterine cancer Cervical cancer Vulval…

Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer is a general term used for a range of cancers that start in the head and neck of the body. This region includes the mouth, tongue, palate, jaw, salivary glands, tonsils, throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), nose and sinuses. Head and neck cancers occur when malignant tumours grow in any of the…

Kidney cancer

Kidney cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the cells of the kidney. In the early stages, the primary cancer forms a tumour that is confined to the kidney. As the cancer grows, it may invade organs or structures near the kidney, such as the surrounding fatty tissue, veins, adrenal glands, ureters or…

Lung cancer

Lung cancer is a malignant tumour in the tissue of one or both of the lungs. A primary cancer starts in the lungs, while a secondary or metastatic cancer starts somewhere else in the body and spreads to the lungs. On this page you will find information on: Types of lung cancer How common is lung cancer?…

Melanoma

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. It develops from the melanocytes (pigment cells) and usually occurs on parts of the body that have been overexposed to the sun. Rare melanomas can also start in a part of the skin or body that has never been exposed to the sun. Although one of the less…

Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is a malignant tumour in one or both ovaries. Some cases of ovarian cancer may form in the fallopian tube and spread to the ovary. There are many types of ovarian cancer. The three most common types are Epithelial – starts in the fallopian tubes, on the surface of the ovary (epithelium) or…

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer begins when abnormal cells in the prostate start growing in an uncontrolled way. In most cases prostate cancer grows more slowly than other types of cancer. This might mean that you do not need treatment straightaway. However, some prostate cancers can grow and spread quickly, so it is important to investigate any symptoms or…

Skin cancer

Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the skin. On this page you will find information on: Types of skin cancer How common is skin cancer? What are the risk factors? How is skin cancer diagnosed? What is the treatment for skin cancer? What is the prognosis? What support is available? Types…

Vulva cancer

Vulvar cancer can start in any part of the external female sex organs (genitals). It most commonly develops in the labia minora, the inner edges of the labia majora and the perineum. Less often, it involves the clitoris or Bartholin glands. How common is cancer of the vulva? Each year, about 300 Australian women are…

Vaginal cancer

Primary vaginal cancer is any cancer that start in the vagina. There are several types. Some cancers of the vagina have spread from cancer elsewhere in the body. These are secondary vaginal cancers. Types of vaginal cancers The types of vaginal cancers can be primary or secondary. Primary vaginal cancer Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) – starts…