The body consists of many different organs, which in turn are composed of several different types of tissues. There are three major categories of tissue-related tumor types: carcinoma, sarcoma, and leukemia/lymphoma. There are also other specialized tumor categories, such as those of the central nervous system (e.g., brain tumors).
Carcinoma. This is the largest category, containing about 90 percent of all cancers, and it consists of neoplasms derived from epithelial cells. Epithelial cells make up the outer layers of the skin. They also line the inner structures of organs such as the lungs, intestines and testes, as well as complex tissue such as the breast.
Sarcoma. These are solid tumors derived from all connective tissues except the blood-forming tissues (these are the leukemias and lymphomas). These tumors account for about 2 percent of all cancers. They occur in such tissues as muscle, bone, and cartilage.
Leukemia and Lymphoma. This group contains about 8 percent of all cancers, including blood cancers that originate from the marrow (leukemias) and from the lymphatic system (lymphomas). This group also includes other nonsolid tumors of the bone marrow and lymphatic system, such as myeloma, which affects plasma cells—a type of white blood cell found in the marrow and in other tissues.
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