Pathology dictionary


What does carcinoma mean?

Carcinoma is the name given to a group of cancers. This type of cancer develops from the cells found on the surface of a tissue. These cells are called epithelial cells. The tissue can be from any location in the body. There are many different types of carcinomas and each type looks different when examined under the microscope.

Types of carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma – This is a type of cancer made up of specialized squamous cells. These cells are found on the surface of the skin and on the inner surface of the mouth, esophagus, and large airways. Squamous cell carcinoma can start in any location where squamous cells are normally found.
  • Adenocarcinoma – This is a type of cancer made up of epithelial cells that normally stick together to form round structures called glands. These kinds of cells are found inside the stomach, colon, breast, and prostate. Adenocarcinoma can start in any location where glands are normally found.
  • Neuroendocrine carcinoma – This is a type of cancer made up of specialized neuroendocrine cells. Common locations for the neuroendocrine carcinoma are the lungs, small bowel, and colon.

How will a carcinoma behave?

If you have been diagnosed with a carcinoma, the behavior of the tumour depends on many factors including:

  • The location of the tumour.
  • The size of the tumour.
  • The histologic type of the tumour.
  • The tumour grade.
  • The margin status.
  • Whether any cancer cells where found in lymph nodes.
  • Whether any cancer cells have traveled to a distant body site (metastatic disease).

Pathologists examine the tumour, lymph nodes, and other tissues and provide information about most of these factors in your pathology report.

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