Types of Cancer

There are more than 100 different types of cancer that can develop in virtually any part of the body. In order to be able to recognize symptoms that may occur, patients and doctors should be familiar with some common types of cancer and how they may affect the patient. By increasing cancer awareness, cancer may be more quickly and easily identified. As a result, cancer misdiagnosis may be reduced, which can in turn improve quality of life and decrease the number of cancer deaths.

Most Common Types of Cancer

The National Cancer Institute lists prostate, breast, lung, and colon cancer as the types of cancer that occur most frequently in the United States. When focusing on cancer education and cancer misdiagnosis awareness, experts assert that these more common types of cancer should be addressed first. Due to the differing bodily areas affected by common cancers, the symptoms vary. When discussing the development of new symptoms, doctors and patients should note any similarities to common cancer symptoms.

Other common types of cancer include:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Skin cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Cervical cancer

Prostate Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer. Prostate cancer develops in a male’s prostate, or the small reproductive gland located in front of the rectum and below the bladder. Typically, prostate cancer grows slowly and stays confined to the prostate during its initial stages.

Prostate Cancer Misdiagnosis

A contributing factor for prostate cancer misdiagnosis may be the cellular composition of prostate cells. Some experts assert that the prostate contains a number of cells which may resemble cancer cells. This may contribute to a cancer misdiagnosis confirming cancer in a patient who does not have cancer. Prostate cancer may also be misdiagnosed as prostatitis. Prostatitis is a condition causing the inflammation and swelling of the prostate. This may create similar symptoms to prostate cancer.

Breast Cancer

The National Cancer Institute states that breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer. Contrary to popular belief, breast cancer may develop in the breast tissue of both women and men. However, breast cancer is significantly more prevalent in women. According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that one in eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis

Breast cancer misdiagnosis may occur due to symptom similarities with other conditions. For example, inflammatory breast cancer may be confused with mastitis or fibrocystic breast disease, both of which cause physical breast symptoms such as inflammation, redness, and skin texture changes. Breast cancer misdiagnosis may also occur from faulty breast cancer screening, such as mammography.

Lung Cancer

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in the United States among both men and women. Lung cancer claims more lives per year than prostate, breast, colon, and ovarian cancers combined. In 2010, 158,248 people died from lung cancer.

Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis

Due to the respiratory symptoms often associated with lung cancer, lung cancer misdiagnosis often involves chronic conditions like asthma. Lung cancer misdiagnosis may also involve respiratory infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. The National Lung Screening Trial revealed data that within the cases studied, 24 percent of patients were falsely diagnosed with lung cancer.

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer, also called colorectal or intestinal cancer, occurs in the lower part of the digestive system. Colon cancer often begins as polyps, or non-cancerous growths in the colon. It is estimated that one in 20 individuals will develop colon cancer. Statistically, the risk is lower in women than in men. Data shows that colon cancer deaths have decreased in the last 20 years. This is partially attributed to increased colon cancer screening, which shows promise for early detection and effective treatment.

Colon Cancer Misdiagnosis

Colon cancer misdiagnosis may involve irritable bowel diseases (IBDs) such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and ulcerative colitis. Colon cancer misdiagnosis may also involve conditions such as hemorrhoids. Data shows that colon cancer rates are higher in patients age 65 and older.




Alexander, Rachel Louise. “Main Types of Skin Cancer and Treatment Options.” Nursing Times Jul 2012: 18-20. ProQuest. Web. 14 Nov. 2013 .

Canavan, T P, and N R Doshi. “Cervical Cancer.” American Family Physician 61.5 (2000): 1369-1376. MEDLINE with Full Text. Web. 14 Nov. 2013.

Lutschg, James H. “Lung Cancer.” The New England Journal of Medicine 360.1 (2009): 87-88. MEDLINE with Full Text. Web. 14 Nov. 2013.

Stefanik, Dawn Christine, and Esther Muscari Lin. “Colon Cancer.” American Journal of Nursing. 100.4 (2000): 36-40. Print.

“Types of breast cancers.” American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, 11 Sept 2013. Web. 14 Nov 2013. <http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-breast-cancer-types>.