The National Cancer Institute1 defines solid tumors as any abnormal mass of tissue that usually does not contain cysts or liquid areas. Solid tumors may be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). Different types of solid tumors are named for the type of cells that form them. Examples of solid tumors are sarcomas, carcinomas, and lymphomas.
A sarcoma is a type of cancer that begins in bone or in the soft tissues of the body, including cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, fibrous tissue, or other connective or supportive tissue. The names for the types of sarcomas are based on where the cancer forms. For example, osteosarcoma forms in bone, liposarcoma forms in fat, and rhabdomyosarcoma forms in muscle.
Carcinomas are cancers that begin in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs. For example, squamous cell carcinoma may occur in the skin, mouth, or bladder, while basal cell carcinoma occurs in the skin. There are small cell and non-small cell carcinomas of the lung.2
Lymphomas are cancers that begins in cells of the immune system, particularly in B or T lymphocytes. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One kind is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other more common type of lymphoma are the non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Many different subtypes of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma exist. The most common non-Hodgkin's lymphoma subtypes include diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma.3
Some non-Hodgkin lymphomas have a predilection for the skin. While some B cell lymphomas favor the skin over other organs, the majority of skin lymphomas are T cell in origin. Mycosis fungoides is a T cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma that involves primarily the skin while Sezary Syndrome is an example of a T cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma that involves the blood and lymph nodes with frequent skin manifestations.4
Nearly all solid tumors are diagnosed via biopsy; however, blood tests and/or radiologic imaging may also be required. The treatment and prognosis of solid tumors vary dramatically. Some require no treatment or minimal topical treatment. Others may require intensive chemotherapy, radiation, and/or other cancer treatment modalities.
- Hwang ST, Janik JE, Jaffe ES, and Wilson WH. Mycosis fungoides and Sיzary syndrome. Lancet 2008, 371: 945-957.