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What is a Carcinoma Tumor?

A carcinoma tumor may need to be surgically removed.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2014
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A carcinoma tumor is a malignant tumor which classically arises in the epithelial cells, the cells which line the organs and interior cavities of the body, in addition to providing the outer layer of the skin. The bulk of human cancers are carcinomas, and there are a wide variety of carcinoma tumors, classified by structure and location. Prognosis for someone with a carcinoma tumor varies, depending on the location and grade of the tumor. As a general rule, the earlier the tumor is caught, the better for the patient.

Tumors are areas of uncontrolled cell growth which are caused by a genetic defect in a cell which leads the cell to continue replicating itself without any checks in place. Normally, the body tightly controls the number of cell replications, ensuring that cells make enough copies of themselves to replace dying and damaged cells, without causing uncontrolled growth. In the case of a tumor, something goes awry, and cells start to form a lump of tissue which may be benign or malignant.

Carcinomas arise when a genetic defect occurs in the epithelial cells. These tumors are classified as malignant because they have the ability to metastasize through surrounding tissue, spreading to other parts of the body, and they also grow very rapidly and aggressively. An untreated carcinoma can lead to pain, unpleasant symptoms, and eventual death as the body becomes riddled with cancerous tissue.

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If a carcinoma is caught early, it may be classified as a “carcinoma in situ,” meaning that the tumor is pre-malignant. The carcinoma will be removed and the site will be monitored to check for recurrences. Typically, the margins of the area around the carcinoma tumor are removed as well, to ensure that no rogue cells are still present. A pathologist usually examines the tumor and the margins after removal to confirm that everything has been successfully taken out.

When a carcinoma tumor is identified, it is usually biopsied to determine to determine whether it is an adenosarcoma, a squamous cell carcinoma, or an undifferentiated carcinoma. The biopsy will also be used to grade the tumor by size and area of spread, to determine how serious the condition is. Once the results of the biopsy have been received, a doctor can work with the patient to develop a treatment plan, with the goal being removal or shrinkage of the carcinoma tumor, and a halt to its spread through the body.

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Discuss this Article

Planch
Post 3

@littleman -- You're right, small cell carcinoma is the more aggressive form.

It usually shows up in the lungs, but it rarely shows up in the prostate as well.

LittleMan
Post 2

I had heard of something called small cell carcinoma -- it's supposed to be really aggressive, right?

pharmchick78
Post 1

One of the most common kinds of carcinoma tumors is basal cell carcinoma. This is also the most common kind of skin cancer.

Basal cell carcinoma tumors generally show up as lumps or sores that won't go away, and can be caused by excessive exposure to UV rays.

It is most common in light-skinned people, and those with a family history of skin cancer.

When treated early and properly, the prognosis is very good for basal cell carcinomas.

However, without treatment, they can metastasize to the surrounding tissue, and become very serious.

People can help prevent basal cell carcinoma by wearing sunscreen, getting enough vitamin D, and not tanning.

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