Types of Cancer (malignant neoplasia)

Cancer is not one disease; it is a group of many diseases that affect different tissues and body systems. There are many different types of cancer and most cancers are named for the cell type, tissue or body organ from where they start. For example, bone cancer starts in a bone, lymphoma starts in the lymphatic system and cancer that begins in basal cells of the skin is called basal cell carcinoma.

The different types of cancer do share some similarities but also have many different characteristics. They vary in how they affect the individual, how they can be diagnosed, treated and what the outcome of any treatment might be.

Scroll down this page to read more information about the various tumour types (main categories of cancer) and how cancers are named. 

Information sheets for specific types of cancer will be added here for cats, dogs and other species as they are developed. However, it must be stressed that these are general statements and it is important to discuss the various aspects of your pet's diagnosis with your vet.

For more definitions and information about cancer, please have a look at our FAQs.


Follow this link to discover 6 surprising facts about cancer in animals:

6 Animal Cancer Facts


















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Types of cancer word cloud

The main categories of cancer include:


Begins in the epithelial tissue of either the skin or tissues that line internal organs such as the intestinal tract, thyroid glands and bladder.

Examples include hepatic carcinoma in the liver or mammary carcinoma in the mammary glands.


Begins in the connective or supportive tissues of bone, cartilage, fat, muscle and blood vessels.

Examples include the soft tissue sarcomas, a collective term for a group of tumours that arise from the skin and subcutaneous connective tissues including:

- Fat (liposarcoma)

- Fibrous connective tissue (fibrosarcoma)

- Pericytes of small blood vessels below the skin (haemangiopericytoma)

- Vascular endothelium in the blood vessel walls (haemangiosarcoma of spleen or heart)

Blood cancers

Begin in the bone marrow and arise from the cells of the immune system. These cancers can quickly spread to lymph nodes and other organs in the body.
Classified by cell type, location and speed of progression and include:

Lymphoma (more correctly called lymphosarcoma) - arises from lymphocytes called T-cells or B-cells in the lymph tissues of the body.


Begins in the blood-forming tissues of the lymphatic system or bone marrow.
Causes large numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the bloodstream.


Begins in plasma cells, usually in the bone marrow

Central nervous system cancers

Begin in the tissues of the brain and spinal cord

Examples include meningioma and glioma as types of brain tumours





























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