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Patient Resources

Use our diagram to find immunotherapy resources for the most common cancer types in the US, and find open clinical trials for HPV-related cancers.

Anal Cancer

The most common type of anal cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma begins in flat cells lining the anal canal. The number of cases of anal cancer diagnosed each year has been increasing over the last 10 years. Infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) is a major risk factor for anal cancer. Being vaccinated against HPV lowers the risk of anal cancer.

Cervical Cancer

The main types of cervical cancer are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma begins in the thin, flat cells that line the cervix. Adenocarcinoma begins in cervical cells that make mucus and other fluids. Long-lasting infections with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) cause almost all cases of cervical cancer. Vaccines that protect against infection with these types of HPV can greatly reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Having a Pap test to check for abnormal cells in the cervix or a test to check for HPV can find cells that may become cervical cancer. These cells can be treated before cancer forms. Cervical cancer can usually be cured if it is found and treated in the early stages.

Penile Cancer

The most common type of penile cancer is squamous cell carcinoma (cancer that begins in flat cells in the top layexsr of the skin). It usually forms on or under the foreskin. Signs of penile cancer include sores or other skin changes, discharge, and bleeding. Infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) causes about one-third of penile cancer cases. Circumcision (removal of the foreskin) may help prevent infection with HPV and decrease the risk of penile cancer. When found early, penile cancer can usually be cured.

Bladder Cancer

The most common type of bladder cancer is transitional cell carcinoma, which begins in urothelial cells that line the inside of the bladder. Urothelial cells are transitional cells, which are able to change shape and stretch when the bladder is full, and this type of cancer is also called urothelial carcinoma. Urothelial cancers commonly include cancers that form in the lower tract [lower ureter] as well as the bladder itself. Other types of bladder cancer include squamous cell carcinoma (cancer that begins in thin, flat cells lining the bladder) and adenocarcinoma (cancer that begins in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids). Immunotherapy in the form of BCG has been used in bladder cancer for decades. [NCI]

Breast Cancer

Breast tissue contains fat and connective tissue, lymph nodes, and blood vessels. The most common type of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma, which begins in the cells of the ducts. Breast cancer can also begin in the cells of the lobules and in other tissues in the breast. Ductal carcinoma in situ is a condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of the ducts but they haven't spread outside the duct. Breast cancer that has spread from where it began in the ducts or lobules to surrounding tissue is called invasive breast cancer. In inflammatory breast cancer, the breast looks red and swollen and feels warm because the cancer cells block the lymph vessels in the skin. In the U.S., breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after skin cancer. It can occur in both men and women, but it is rare in men. Each year there are about 100 times more new cases of breast cancer in women than in men. [NCI]

Colon and Rectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. Most colorectal cancers are adenocarcinomas (cancers that begin in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids). Colorectal cancer often begins as a growth called a polyp, which may form on the inner wall of the colon or rectum. Some polyps become cancer over time. Finding and removing polyps can prevent colorectal cancer. ­Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer diagnosed in the United States. Deaths from colorectal cancer have decreased with the use of colonoscopies and fecal occult blood tests, which check for blood in the stool. [NCI]

Endometrial/Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer can start in different parts of the uterus. Most uterine cancers start in the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus), known as endometrial cancer. Most endometrial cancers are adenocarcinomas (cancers that begin in cells that make mucus and other fluids). Uterine sarcoma is an uncommon form of uterine cancer that forms in the muscle and tissue that support the uterus. Obesity, certain inherited conditions, and taking estrogen alone (without progesterone) can increase the risk of endometrial cancer. Radiation therapy to the pelvis can increase the risk of uterine sarcoma. Taking tamoxifen for breast cancer can increase the risk of both endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma. The most common sign of endometrial cancer is unusual vaginal bleeding. While endometrial cancer can usually be cured, uterine sarcoma is harder to cure [NCI].

Kidney (Renal Cell) Cancer

There are three main types of kidney cancer. Renal cell cancer is the most common type in adults and Wilms tumors are the most common in children. These types form in the tissues of the kidney that make urine. Transitional cell cancer forms in the renal pelvis and ureter in adults. Smoking and taking certain pain medicines for a long time can increase the risk of adult kidney cancer. Certain inherited disorders can increase the risk of kidney cancer in children and adults. These include von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell cancer, Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome, and hereditary papillary renal cancer. Kidney tumors may be benign or malignant [NCI].

Leukemia

Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells, which mostly form in the bone marrow. In leukemia, immature blood cells become cancer. These cells do not work the way they should and they crowd out the healthy blood cells in the bone marrow. Different types of leukemia depend on the type of blood cell that becomes cancer. For example, lymphoblastic leukemia is a cancer of the lymphoblasts (white blood cells, which fight infection). White blood cells are the most common type of blood cell to become cancer. But red blood cells (cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body) and platelets (cells that clot the blood) may also become cancer. Leukemia occurs most often in adults older than 55 years, but it is also the most common cancer in children younger than 15 years. Leukemia can be either acute or chronic. Acute leukemia is a fast-growing cancer that usually gets worse quickly. Chronic leukemia is a slower-growing cancer that gets worse slowly over time. The treatment and prognosis for leukemia depend on the type of blood cell affected and whether the leukemia is acute or chronic [NCI].

Liver

Primary liver cancer is cancer that starts in the liver. The most common type of primary liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma, which occurs in the tissue of the liver. When cancer starts in other parts of the body and spreads to the liver, it is called liver metastasis. Liver cancer is rare in children and teenagers, but there are two types of liver cancer that can form in children. Hepatoblastoma occurs in younger children, and hepatocellular carcinoma occurs in older children and teenagers. The bile ducts are tubes that carry bile between the liver and gallbladder and the intestine. Bile duct cancer is also called cholangiocarcinoma. When it begins in the bile ducts inside the liver, it is called intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. When it begins in the bile ducts outside the liver, it is called extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. Extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma is much more common than intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma [NCI].

Lung Cancer

The two main types of lung cancer are non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. The types are based on the way the cells look under a microscope. Non-small cell lung cancer is much more common than small cell lung cancer. Most cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in the U.S. For most patients with lung cancer, current treatments do not cure the cancer [NCI].

Melanoma

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. It usually forms in skin that has been exposed to sunlight, but can occur anywhere on the body. Skin has several layers, and skin cancer begins in the epidermis (outer layer), which is made up of squamous cells, basal cells, and melanocytes. There are several different types of skin cancer. Squamous cell and basal cell skin cancers are sometimes called nonmelanoma skin cancers. Nonmelanoma skin cancer usually responds to treatment and rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Melanoma is more aggressive than most other types of skin cancer. If it isn't diagnosed early, it is likely to invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body. The number of cases of melanoma is increasing each year. Only 2 percent of all skin cancers are melanoma, but it causes most deaths from skin cancer. Rare types of skin cancer include Merkel cell carcinoma, skin lymphoma, and Kaposi sarcoma [NCI].

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Lymphoma is cancer that begins in cells of the lymph system. The lymph system is part of the immune system, which helps the body fight infection and disease. Because lymph tissue is found all through the body, lymphoma can begin almost anywhere. The two main types of lymphoma are Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). These can occur in both children and adults. Most people with Hodgkin lymphoma have the classic type. With this type, there are large, abnormal lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) in the lymph nodes called Reed-Sternberg cells. Hodgkin lymphoma can usually be cured. There are many different types of NHL that form from different types of white blood cells (B-cells, T-cells, NK cells). Most types of NHL form from B-cells. NHL may be indolent (slow-growing) or aggressive (fast-growing). The most common types of NHL in adults are diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, which is usually aggressive, and follicular lymphoma, which is usually indolent. Mycosis fungoides and the Sézary syndrome are types of NHL that start in white blood cells in the skin. Primary central nervous system lymphoma is a rare type of NHL that starts in white blood cells in the brain, spinal cord, or eye. The treatment and the chance of a cure depend on the stage and the type of lymphoma.

Pancreatic Cancer

There are two kinds of cells in the pancreas. Exocrine pancreas cells make enzymes that are released into the small intestine to help the body digest food. Neuroendocrine pancreas cells (such as islet cells) make several hormones, including insulin and glucagon, that help control sugar levels in the blood. Most pancreatic cancers form in exocrine cells. These tumors do not secrete hormones and do not cause signs or symptoms. This makes it hard to diagnose this type of pancreatic cancer early. For most patients with exocrine pancreatic cancer, current treatments do not cure the cancer. Some types of malignant pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, such as islet cell tumors, have a better prognosis than pancreatic exocrine cancers.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the United States, after skin cancer. It is the second leading cause of death from cancer in men. Prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men than in white men. African-American men with prostate cancer are more likely to die from the disease than white men with prostate cancer. Almost all prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas (cancers that begin in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids). Prostate cancer often has no early symptoms. Advanced prostate cancer can cause men to urinate more often or have a weaker flow of urine, but these symptoms can also be caused by benign prostate conditions. Prostate cancer usually grows very slowly. Most men with prostate cancer are older than 65 years and do not die from the disease. Finding and treating prostate cancer before symptoms occur may not improve health or help you live longer. Talk to your doctor about your risk of prostate cancer and whether you need screening tests.

Thyroid Cancer

The thyroid makes hormones that help control heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and weight. There are four types of thyroid cancer: papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic thyroid cancer. Papillary is the most common type of thyroid cancer. Anaplastic thyroid cancer is hard to cure with current treatment. Other types of thyroid cancer can usually be cured. Being exposed to radiation to the head and neck as a child increases the risk of thyroid cancer. Having certain genetic conditions such as familial medullary thyroid cancer, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A syndrome, and multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2B syndrome can also increase the risk of thyroid cancer.

Vaginal Cancer

The most common type of vaginal cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, which begins in the thin, flat cells that line the vagina. Other types of vaginal cancer are adenocarcinoma (cancer that begins in cells that make mucus and other fluids), melanoma, and sarcoma. Infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) causes most vaginal cancer. Vaccines that protect against infection with these types of HPV may reduce the risk of vaginal cancer. Vaginal cancer often does not cause early signs or symptoms. It may be found during a routine pelvic exam. When found early, vaginal cancer can often be cured.

Vulvar Cancer

Most vulvar cancers are squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cancer begins in squamous cells (thin, flat skin cells) and is usually found on the vaginal lips. A small number of vulvar cancers are adenocarcinomas (cancers that begin in cells that make mucus and other fluids). This type of cancer is usually found on the sides of the vaginal opening. Vulvar cancer usually forms slowly over a number of years. Abnormal cells can grow on the surface of the vulvar skin for a long time. This condition is called vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN). Because it is possible for VIN to become vulvar cancer, it is important to get treatment. Signs and symptoms of vulvar cancer include a lump, bleeding, or itching. Infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) causes about half of all vulvar cancers. Vaccines that protect against infection with these types of HPV may reduce the risk of vulvar cancer.

You can see a comprehensive list of all cancer types here. To learn about immunotherapies for rare cancers, read about the ongoing DART trial.

Additional General Resources