Question: around about how many cancers are there?

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  1. Hmm,tricky question!

    Cancer cells are basically cells of the body in which the DNA has been mutated, causing them to grow out of control and end up invading other parts of the body. Theoretically, cells in any tissue of the body can mutate in this way to form cancers. But there are about six main kinds of cancers that can form,and they are classified according to what kind of tissue they come from.

    So cancers forming in the different kinds of white blood cells are called lymphomas and leukemias. Carcinomas are a common kind of cancer, and they form from “epithelial cells.” Epithelial cells are the cells that line tissue cavities.Then there are sarcomas, which form from connective tissue like bone and blastomas and germ cell tumours.

    Each kind of tissue will produce different kinds of cancers. For example, there are many kinds of breast cancers: one expresses a lot of a gene called epidermal growth factor. Another breast cancer has mutations in an important gene called p53 which normally protects against cancer. The same goes for prostate cancer, there is more than one kind. So while we have about six classifications for the *kinds* of cancers, there are many different cancers. I’m not sure that anyone has really been able to count how many as we are still discovering more about different cancers every day.