"Malignant cancer" is the general term used to describe the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in any location of the body. Cancer cells are damaged cells that do not die. These cells continue to grow out of control and form cancer cell masses called tumors. When the term "malignant cancer" is used, it describes any one of more than 200 forms of cancer. There are six categories used to classify cancers: carcinoma, sarcoma, leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and central nervous system (CNS) cancers.
Carcinomas are malignant cancers that start in the skin or the lining and covering tissues of organs. Cancers that have begun in these areas but have spread to other areas are known as secondary carcinomas. Basal cell, squamous cell and small cell carcinomas are some examples. Any area that contains epithelial cells can develop a carcinoma.
A sarcoma is a type of malignant cancer that forms in connective tissue. Sarcomas use abnormal mesenchymal cells in the connective tissue to form a tumor. Affected connective tissues include cartilage and tendons. Soft tissue sarcomas are a subtype. They form in soft tissues that are located in connective tissue, such as blood vessels and muscles.
Leukemia and some types of lymphoma result from blood-forming cells called hematopoietic cells. Lymphoma is a malignant cancer that also can begin in the cells of the immune system. On the other hand, until it metastasizes, leukemia works in bone marrow to create abnormal red blood cells.
Another form of malignant cancer is myeloma. This cancer also occurs in bone marrow, similar to leukemia. Unlike leukemia, though, myeloma affects the plasma cells, which are responsible for making antibodies. Myeloma can be multiple or solitary. Multiple myeloma affects multiple sites, and solitary myeloma affects only one site.
Malignant cancer that begins in the brain or spinal cord is classified as central nervous system cancer. This type of cancer affects the cells in the spinal cord and the brain, causing them to grow out of control and form tumors. CNS tumors can cause problems with basic body functions and can be difficult to remove.
Treatment for a malignant cancer depends on of the type of cancer, its location and its aggressiveness. Common treatments generally include combinations. Doctors usually will remove as much of the tumor as possible and then follow with chemotherapy, radiation therapy or immunotherapy. For cancers that affect bone marrow, a bone marrow transplant typically is recommended.