Med-Surg Immune System, part 9: Tumor Classification

by Cathy Parkes October 06, 2020

In this video

Cancer tissue type (the 5 main types of cancer)

  • Carcinoma
  • Sarcoma
  • Leukemia
  • Myeloma
  • Lymphoma

Tumor grading

  • Grade 1 through grade 4

Tumor staging (TNM methodology)

  • T for tumor (T1 through T4)
  • N for node (N0 through N3)
  • M for metastasis (M0 vs M1)

Full Transcript

Hi. In this video, we are going to talk about tumor classification. Specifically, we will talk about tissue type as well as grading and staging of cancer. If you are following along with cards, I am on card number 20 in the Immune System of our Medical-Surgical Nursing 2nd Edition deck.

So when we are describing a type of cancer, we are typically referring to the type of tissue in which the cancer originates. And there are 5 main types of cancer that I would be familiar with.

The first are carcinomas. So carcinomas make up the majority of cancers, around 80 to 90%, and they originate in the epithelial tissue. So epithelial tissue, it lines your body surfaces, like the skin. It lines your body cavities, and it makes up many of the glands and organs in the body.

Within carcinomas, we have adenocarcinomas which are organs or glands that typically secrete substances such as mucus.

And then, we also have squamous cell carcinoma which originates in the squamous epithelium.

Alright. After carcinomas, we have sarcomas. So sarcomas are cancers that originate in the supportive or connective tissues of the body. So this can include bones, muscle, tendon, cartilage and fat. Some examples of sarcomas include osteosarcoma, so that is a cancer that originates in the bone, as well as chondrosarcoma, which is a cancer that originates in the cartilage.

Okay. Then we have leukemia. Leukemia is a type of cancer that originates in the bone marrow.

And then we have myeloma, and myeloma cancer originates in the plasma cells specifically, in the bone marrow.

And then lastly we have lymphoma. Lymphoma originates in the lymphatic glands or nodes, or in organs such as the thymus or spleen.

Now that we've identified the tissue type, we need to grade the cancer. So with grading, we are comparing the cancer to the tissue of origin, and we're giving it a grade of one, two, three or four.

Grade one means that the cancer is well differentiated and it resembles the tissue of origin, versus a four, which mean that the cancer has no similarity at all to the tissue of origin.

So a grade of one is definitely better, because a grade one cancer usually grows more slowly, versus a grade four cancer usually grows very quickly and spreads rapidly.

Alright. Let's talk about staging. So when we're staging cancer, we use the TNM staging methodology. So T stands for tumor, N stands for node, and M stands for metastasis.

So with T for tumor, we're going to have either a T1, T2, T3, or T4. And this is really given based on the size and extent of the tumor. So if it's a nice little small tumor, it gets T1. If it's a really big one, then it would get T4.

Then we have node, N for node. And this really corresponds to the number of regional lymph nodes involved in the cancer. So if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, this tells you the number of lymph nodes that are affected. So you can have N0, which means that no lymph nodes have been affected, but you can also have N1, N2, N3. So if you have N2, that means there are two lymph nodes where the cancer has spread and affected those lymph nodes.

And then lastly, we have metastasis. So we either have M0 or M1. M0 means we have no metastasis, so the cancer has not spread to other places in the body. And 1 means we do have metastasis to other places in the body.

Okay. So hopefully that's been helpful for you to understand the classification of tumors. In my next video, we will talk about nursing care and patient teaching regarding complications that occur with cancer treatment. Thank you so much for watching, and I'll see you on the next video!

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