Carcinoma: Definition, Types, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

It begins in the epithelial tissue of the skin or in the tissue that lines internal organs, such as the liver or kidneys.

Carcinoma corresponds to the most common type of cancer.

Carcinomas, like other types of cancer, are abnormal cells that manage to divide uncontrollably. They can spread to other parts of the body.

But “carcinoma in situ” remains in the cells where it started.

Types of carcinoma

  • Carcinoma in situ: An early stage cancer that is still confined to the layer of tissue from which it started and has not spread to surrounding tissue or other parts of the body.
  • Invasive carcinoma: Cancer has spread beyond the primary tissue layer into the surrounding tissue
  • Metastatic carcinoma: Cancer has spread throughout the body to other tissues and organs.

There are other types of cancer that are not carcinomas and they invade the body in different ways.

Although carcinomas can occur in many parts of the body, you can often hear people talk about these common types of carcinoma:

Basal cell carcinoma

It is the most common form of cancer. Basal cell carcinoma grows in those parts of the skin where it receives a lot of sunlight.

It is natural for the patient to be concerned when the doctor diagnoses him that he has basal cell carcinoma, but it must be taken into account that it is the type of skin cancer that represents the least risk. As long as you treat it early, it can be cured.

It is very unlikely that this basal cell carcinoma spreads from the basal cells of the skin to other parts of the body, but it can branch and reach the bone or some other tissue located under the skin.

There are several treatments that can prevent this from happening and that help you get rid of the cancer.

The tumors start as small shiny bumps and are usually located in the nose and other parts of the face.

But they can appear anywhere on the body, including the trunk, legs, and arms. If you have very fair skin, you are very likely to suffer from this skin cancer .

Basal cell carcinoma grows very slowly and often takes many years to appear after intense or prolonged exposure to sunlight.

It can appear at a young age if the individual is constantly exposed to the sun or if tanning beds are used frequently.


Exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun or from a tanning bed are the main cause of basal cell carcinoma.

Ultraviolet rays when in prolonged contact with the skin, can destroy the DNA that is present in skin cells.

DNA contains a code that regulates the way these cells will grow.

Over time, DNA damage can lead to atypical formation of these cells and lead to cancer. The process can take many years.


In a basal cell carcinoma, a skin growth that is dome-shaped with blood vessels and colored pink, brown, or black may be seen.

A carcinoma appears as a small lump that looks like a mole or pimple that does not go away. Sometimes these types of growths can look “pearly” or dark.

It can also be seen as bright red or pink patches with a slightly scaly appearance.

Another symptom to watch out for is hard, waxy growth of the skin, they are also often fragile and can bleed easily.


The doctor will look at your skin for growths, changes in shape, and color.

You can also take a small sample or biopsy of the growing tissue.

That will be sent to a laboratory, where they will be tested for the presence of cancer cells.

Basal cell carcinomas often look like this:

  • Like open wounds.
  • With red patches.
  • With pink growths.

The goal is to get rid of the cancer by leaving as small a scar as possible.

In choosing the best treatment, the doctor will take into consideration the size and location of the carcinoma, and the length of time the patient has had it.

The possibility of scarring will also be taken into account, as well as the general health of the patient.

Some of the treatment options that exist today and that the doctor may suggest are:

Excision of the tumor
  • The doctor will numb the tumor and the skin around it.
  • He will then scrape the tumor away with the help of a spoon-shaped device.
  • Then the tissue from the tumor and a small surrounding area of ​​normal-looking skin will be cut out and sent to the lab.

If the lab results show that there are cancer cells in the apparently healthy area around the tumor, the doctor may need to remove more skin.

Scraping the tumor and applying electricity
  • First, the doctor will numb the skin.
  • Then with a curette, a spoon-shaped device will scrape off the tumor.
  • The doctor will monitor the bleeding and remove any other abnormal-looking tissue with the help of an electric needle.
  • This method is known as curettage and desiccation.
  • This method freezes cancer cells.
  • The doctor kills your cancer cells by freezing them with liquid nitrogen.

This type of treatment, using X-rays, is used to destroy cancer cells.

This procedure is repeated for several weeks.

Mohs surgery
  • This technique carried out by removing the tumor layer by layer.
  • A sample of tissue is removed, then viewed under a microscope to check for cancer cells, before the next layer is removed.
Creams and pills

Your doctor may suggest some type of medicine that is used to treat basal cell carcinoma.

Two creams that are used most frequently are:

  1. Fluorouracilo (5-FU).
  2. Imiquimod.

If the carcinoma has spread to other parts of the body, the doctor can usually prescribe a pill called Erivedge (vismodegib).

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma often appears on the skin.

When squamous cell carcinoma develops on the skin, it is often found in areas exposed to the sun, such as:

  • Face.
  • Ears.
  • The neck.
  • The lips.

Squamous cell carcinoma that develops on the skin is usually caused by spending too much time in the sun over the course of your life.

This type of skin carcinoma tends to develop and spread more than basal cell carcinomas.

Squamous cell carcinoma is a very slow-growing skin cancer.

Its behavior is very different from other types of skin cancer, as it can spread to the nearest tissues, bones, and lymph nodes, where it becomes more difficult to treat.

However, when it is detected early, it can be successfully treated.

Risk factor’s

Certain things make the individual more prone to developing squamous cell carcinoma:

  • Old age.
  • The male sex.
  • The White skin.
  • Blonde or red hair.
  • Spending a lot of time exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
  • Tanning beds.
  • Long-term exposure to chemicals like arsenic in water.
  • Diseases such as Bowen’s disease, the human papillomavirus, or AIDS.
  • Exposure to radiation.

Squamous cell carcinoma usually begins as a dome-shaped lump or a red, scaly patch of skin.

It is usually rough and crisp, and can bleed easily when scraped off.

Large growths can be itchy and even painful.


The doctor may refer the patient to a dermatologist who specializes in skin conditions.

Lesions elsewhere on the body will also be looked for and the lymph nodes will be palpated.

If the doctor detects a lump with questionable characteristics, a skin biopsy will be taken for analysis in the laboratory.


Depending on the size and location of the carcinoma, the doctor may choose to use any of the following techniques to remove it:

  • Excision: removing the cancer lesion and some healthy skin around it.
  • Surgery: Using a small curettage tool and an electronic needle to kill cancer cells.
  • Mohs surgery : excision and then inspection of the removed skin under a microscope.
  • Lymph node surgery: remove a piece of the lymph node, general anesthesia is used.
  • Dermabrasion: “sanding” the affected area of ​​the skin with a tool to make way for a new layer.
  • Cryosurgery: freezing the spot with liquid nitrogen.
  • Topical chemotherapy: the use of a gel or cream applied to the skin.

After you have been treated for these carcinomas, there are steps you should take to reduce your chances of getting cancer again:

  • Check the skin frequently. You must be attentive to new growth.
  • Some of the signs of carcinomas include areas on the skin that grow, change color and texture, or bleed.
  • Avoid the sun.
  • Use sunscreen daily.
  • Cover areas exposed to the sun and wear light clothing.
  • Avoid UV exposure from tanning beds.

Renal cell carcinoma

This is a common type of kidney cancer. Generally, it grows as a single tumor within the kidney.

Renal cell carcinoma is usually discovered when CT scans or ultrasounds are done to diagnose another disease.

It may be detected after it is large or has spread to other organs.

Renal cell carcinoma also called renal cell cancer is a disease that occurs when certain kidney cells become malignant or cancerous and grow out of control, forming a tumor in one or both kidneys; there may be more than one tumor formed.

Kidney cancer cells can metastasize or spread to other areas of the body.

Risk factors for renal cell carcinoma

Risk factors for developing renal cell carcinoma include:

  • Smoke.
  • Male gender.
  • Obesity.
  • Long-term dialysis.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Black race.
  • Have lymphoma

Also, having a family history of renal cell carcinoma or having certain genetic conditions will increase a person’s risk.

The causes of kidney cancer are unclear, however, kidney cancer likely starts when kidney cells mutate or a person inherits certain genes.

Symptoms and Signs of Renal Cell Carcinoma

Although renal cell carcinoma often does not cause symptoms in its early development, over time signs and symptoms can develop and include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Weightloss.
  • Constant back pain.
  • A mass or lump in the lower back or side.
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria).
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count).
  • Intermittent fevers
Types of renal cell carcinoma

Renal cell carcinoma subtypes are based primarily on their microscopic appearance.

The most common type is the clear cell type (70%), with cells that appear clear or pale.

Papillary renal cell cancers (10%) form small finger-like projections called papillae, these are also called chromophiles because these types of renal cell carcinoma capture certain dyes and may appear pink.

The third type is chromophobic (5%), these cells resemble the appearance of clear cells but are considerably larger.

Diagnosis and Staging of Renal Cell Carcinoma

The diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma begins with a person’s history and physical exam.

Tests such as blood and urine tests and imaging such as ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI may be ordered.

Tests such as a bone scan, angiogram, intravenous pyelogram, or a positron emission tomography scan may also be considered.

A tissue sample (biopsy) may be removed from the affected area of ​​the kidney to accurately determine the type of kidney cancer and the stage or extent of the cancer.

The specialists who recommend and perform some of these tests are oncologists, urologists, and occasionally urological surgeons and radiologists.

Staging of cancer for kidney cancer usually ranges from stage I to stage IV, with stage IV being the most serious cancer.

Staging is as follows:

  1. Stage I tumors are confined to the kidney and are less than 7 cm in diameter.
  2. Stage II tumors are confined to the kidney and are larger than 7 cm in diameter.
  3. Stage III tumors have spread from the kidney to surrounding tissue or nearby lymph nodes.

And finally, stage IV tumors have already spread outside the kidney to the lymph nodes and other organs such as bones or lungs.

Another staging system may be used by some doctors either in conjunction with the previous staging system or separately.

It is called the TNM system, where T indicates the size of the tumor and whether it has spread to other areas, N describes the extent of tumor spread to the lymph nodes, and M indicates metastasis to other organ systems and is more detailed than the stage system. I to IV but essentially similar to it.

Carcinoma ductal

This common form of breast cancer begins in the milk ducts, which are under the skin and lead to the nipple.

There are two kinds:

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ, also called intraductal carcinoma.
  • Carcinoma ductal invasivo.

The symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment for each are different.

Carcinoma ductal in situ

Ductal carcinoma in situ represents 1 out of every 5 new breast cancer diagnoses.

It is an uncontrolled growth of cells within the breast ducts.

The phrase ‘in situ’ means ‘in its original place’.

Ductal carcinoma in situ is the earliest stage in which breast cancer can be diagnosed.

It is known as stage 0 breast cancer.

Although it is not invasive, it can cause invasive cancer.

It is important that women with the disease receive urgent medical treatment.

Experts believe that up to 30% of women with ductal carcinoma in situ will develop invasive breast cancer within 10 years of diagnosis of ductal carcinoma in situ.

Invasive cancer usually develops in the same breast and in the same area where the ductal carcinoma in situ occurred.

Diagnosis of ductal carcinoma in situ

This type of cancer usually does not cause a lump in the breast that you can feel.

Symptoms of ductal carcinoma in situ include sore breasts and a bloody discharge from the nipple.

About 80% of cases are found by mammograms, appearing as a dark area.

If your mammogram suggests you may have ductal carcinoma in situ, your doctor should order a biopsy to analyze the cells and confirm the diagnosis.

Typically, biopsies for ductal carcinoma in situ are done using needles to remove tissue samples from the breast.

When ductal carcinoma in situ is diagnosed, the doctor may order more tests to gather information about the cancer.

These tests may include an ultrasound or MRI.

Based on the results of various tests, the doctor will be able to determine the size of the tumor and how affected the cancer is.

Ductal carcinoma in situ treatment

No two patients are the same.

The doctor will personalize the treatment plan based on the results of the exam and the medical history.

Among other things, your doctor will consider:

  • The location of the tumor.
  • The tumor size.
  • The aggressiveness of cancer cells.
  • Family history of breast cancer.
  • The results of tests for a gene mutation that would increase the risk of breast cancer.

Most women with ductal carcinoma in situ do not have their breast removed with a mastectomy. Breast-conserving surgery is usually performed.

The most common surgery is lumpectomy followed by radiation. In a lumpectomy, the surgeon removes the cancer and a small area of ​​healthy tissue around it.

The tissue is taken to make sure all cancer cells have been removed.

The lymph nodes under the arm do not need to be removed as with other types of breast cancer.

Some women with an extremely low chance of cancer recurrence may have only one lumpectomy.

This may be an option for older women with small tumors whose surgery showed large amounts of healthy tissue on all sides of the cancer.

Your doctor may suggest a mastectomy to remove your breast as the best treatment if you have any of the following:

  • A strong family history of breast cancer.
  • A genetic mutation that increases the risk of breast cancer.
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ lesions located in multiple areas throughout your breast.
  • Inability to tolerate radiation therapy.

The use of hormone therapy may also be considered.

It can reduce the risk of invasive breast cancer not only in the breast with cancer, but also in the opposite breast.

This risk reduction continues even after you stop taking the drug.

Carcinoma ductal invasivo

Invasive ductal carcinoma accounts for approximately 80% of all invasive breast cancers in women and 90% in men. Like ductal carcinoma in situ, it begins in the milk ducts.

But unlike ductal carcinoma in situ, invasive ductal carcinoma is not contained. Instead, it grows through the walls of the duct and into the surrounding breast tissue.

It can even spread to other parts of the body.


Other symptoms can include:

  • Rash or redness of the breast.
  • Swelling in one breast
  • Pain in one breast
  • Nipple pain, nipple that turns inward, or nipple discharge.
  • Lumps in the armpit area.
Diagnosis of invasive ductal carcinoma

Invasive ductal carcinoma can cause a hard, immobile lump with uneven edges in the breast. In some cases, the cancer causes the nipple to invert.

A mammogram can show areas of calcification, where calcium has built up.

If the physical exam and a mammogram indicate that you may have invasive ductal carcinoma, a biopsy is done to collect the cells for analysis.

The doctor can make a diagnosis from the results of the biopsy.

Since invasive ductal carcinoma often spreads, additional tests will likely be done to look for cancer cells in other areas of your body.

These tests can include:

  • Computed tomography: which together with positron emission tomography can help detect cancer in the lymph nodes and other areas.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging: which uses strong magnets and radio waves to take pictures of the breasts and other structures within the body.
  • X-ray: A radioactive substance called a tracer is injected into your arm and pictures are taken to find out if cancer may have reached your bones.
  • Chest X-ray – Uses low-dose radiation to create images of structures within your chest.

Your doctor will also take samples of your lymph nodes in your armpits to check for cancer.

The results of these tests will determine the stage of your cancer, and knowing the stage will help guide treatment.

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Treatment

Most women with invasive ductal carcinoma have surgery to remove the cancer.

The choice between a lumpectomy will depend on the size of the tumor and how much it has spread through the breast and the surrounding lymph nodes.

In addition to surgery, most doctors will recommend other treatments, such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these treatments.

Chemotherapy and hormone therapy target cancer cells throughout the body.

Radiation specifically targets the area around your breast cancer.

The use of radiation will depend on the type of surgery you have (lumpectomy or mastectomy), the size of the tumor, whether it has spread, and the number of lymph nodes with cancer cells.


Adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer that forms in the glands, the cells that secrete substances inside or outside the body.

Prognosis, treatment, and survival rates for adenocarcinoma depend on the location, size, stage, and individual factors of the tumor, including the person’s general health.


The glands secrete various substances in the body.

Adenocarcinoma is a cancer that forms in the glands and can spread to other areas of the body.

The glands secrete various fluids into the tissues that line many organs in the body.

Adenocarcinomas account for the majority of cancers in the following areas:

  • Chest.
  • Lung.
  • Prostate.
  • Pancreas.
  • Colon.

A rare type of adenocarcinoma called adenoid cystic carcinoma begins in the glands of the head, such as the sinus glands.

It is a slow-growing cancer but it can spread to the skull.

The brain can also develop adenocarcinoma.


Since adenocarcinoma is a cancer that can occur in many areas of the body, no diagnostic test or list of symptoms can confirm it.

Most people seek care first because of some unusual symptoms that they have started to experience.

Below is a list of the types of adenocarcinomas and the symptoms that may indicate their presence:

  • Brain or skull: headaches, nausea, vomiting, seizures, blurred vision, personality changes, strange sensations in the legs or arms, or changes in thinking.
  • Lung: cough, hoarseness, bloody mucus, weight loss, weakness and exhaustion.
  • Breast: a lump or other unusual growth on the breast.
  • Prostate: painful urination, bladder control problems, more frequent urges to urinate at night, blood in the semen, and painful ejaculation.
  • Pancreas: involuntary weight loss, back and stomach pain, oily or light-colored stools, and itchy skin.
  • Colon – A feeling that the intestines are full, bloody stools, rectal bleeding, stomach pain, and unexplained weight loss.

To accurately diagnose adenocarcinoma, a biopsy or imaging may be done.

Diagnosis usually begins with an examination that includes a complete medical history of the individual. A number of tests can diagnose adenocarcinoma.

Multiple tests may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

Tests may include the following:


This procedure involves removing a small sample of tissue to test for cancer cells.

A biopsy can also provide information about where in the body a cancer started.

Some cancers are cancers that are metastatic or have spread from one area to another.

Image scans

A CT scan is an X-ray that provides three-dimensional images of a growth on the body.

Doctors sometimes use them to measure change over time and to assess whether treatment is working.

MRI is another option and uses radio waves to create an image of various parts of the body.

Blood test

The blood test can measure changes in blood cells that suggest cancer.

Chemicals in the blood can also be associated with specific cancers.


Treatment for adenocarcinoma depends on the location of a cancer, how large it has grown, and whether it has spread.

Doctors will also consider how healthy the person with cancer is as treatment can cause serious side effects.

Treatment options may include the following:

Remove the tumor

Surgical removal is a common option. It is the safest option for some cancers.

For example, a lumpectomy is the removal of breast cancer and is a relatively safe procedure, while brain surgery to remove a tumor can be life-threatening.

Doctors may also choose radiofrequency ablation, a treatment that uses waves of energy to destroy or shrink the tumor.

The surrounding lymph nodes can also be removed at the same time as the tumor.


Chemotherapy is a type of treatment that kills cancer cells but can also kill some healthy cells.

Targeted therapy

Some drugs are designed to target specific cancer cells, offering a less dangerous alternative to chemotherapy.

The availability of these drugs depends on the type of cancer and the health of an individual.


Radiation uses high-energy waves to kill cancer cells. Similar to chemotherapy, radiation can also kill healthy cells.


Immunotherapy uses drugs that support the immune system to kill cancer.

Most immunotherapy drugs only prolong life and do not completely cure cancer.

However, since they are supported by the immune system, they often produce fewer side effects than chemotherapy or radiation.

The availability of immunotherapy depends on the type of cancer, its stage, and the general health of the person with cancer.

Some examples of cancers that can be adenocarcinomas include the lung, pancreas, and colorectal types.