Types of cancer

While you may never have expected to be diagnosed with cancer at such a young age, you’re not alone. Here, you can find information about the most common types of cancers that affect young people, an overview of each condition, its symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

What are the most common types?

The most common cancer in young men is testicular cancer, which accounts for more than a quarter of diagnosed cases. Other common types of cancer for young men include Hodgkin lymphoma and leukaemia.

The most common cancers in young women are melanoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and ovarian cancer.

Leukaemias occur when the blood cells divide and multiply abnormally. The most common types of leukaemia in young people, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), are named after the white blood cells that are affected by the cancer.

What about tumours?

This is when a lump forms because the cells in a particular part of your body, such as your bones, muscles, brain or a lymph node, have divided and multiplied abnormally.

Not all tumours are cancerous. If you have been diagnosed with a ‘benign’ tumour, this means it is not cancer. A benign tumour doesn’t have the ability to spread to other parts of your body and it will only start causing problems if it grows too large and interferes with how your body works.

However, malignant tumours do have the ability to spread through cells breaking away from the lump and beginning to grow in another part of the body. They are classified by how far they have spread (their stage) and how abnormal they look under the microscope (their grade).

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Remember, this information is not supposed to be a substitute for advice from a medical professional, so it’s also important to talk to your specialist about your diagnosis and treatment plan.

Updated March 2018, next review due 2019.