What’s in a Name? Dissecting the ’Omas: Sarcoma, Melanoma, Lymphoma and Others

Cancer” is a general word for a very complex disease. Two syllables don’t even come close to describing the 120 different types of cancer that affected nearly 18 million people worldwide in 2018.

Perhaps the best possible way to grasp cancer is to look at the major types. They are sarcoma, melanoma, lymphoma and leukemia (not technically an oma, we know).


’Oma #1: Sarcoma

A sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that most commonly starts in the connective tissue of the body, such as bone, cartilage or muscle. Soft-tissue sarcomas can begin in fat, muscle, nerves, fibrous tissues, blood vessels or deep skin tissues. Bone sarcomas are knowns as osteosarcoma (the most common cancer in kids and teens).

Treatment for sarcoma will depend on what type you have, where it is located, how advanced it is, and whether or not it has spread to other parts of the body.


’Oma #2: Melanoma

Melanoma cancers develop in and grow from the cells that create pigment in skin, often starting in moles or birthmarks. The most serious of skin cancers, melanoma can be aggressive and life-threatening. It is often detected as brown or black tumors on the surface of the skin, but can also appear as pink, tan or white.

Because it can be more easily detected, Melanoma is typically curable when treated early. But this type of cancer also grows faster than other kinds of skin cancer, and if left unchecked can on rare occasions spread into the bones, brain and other internal locations.

Treatment for melanoma may include surgery, radiation, immunotherapy, drug therapy or other methods.


’Oma #3: Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a form of cancer that starts in in cells of the lymph (or lymphatic) system, a network of nodes (where lymphocytes are formed). The lymphatic system is part of the immune system. Lymphona is caused by the uncontrollable multiplication of lymphocytes (white blood cells). This produces malignant cells that can invade other tissues throughout the body.

The two main types of lymphoma are:

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) – NHL begins in white blood cells and most often affects adults, but children can also develop this form of cancer.
  • Hodgkin lymphoma (Hodgkin disease) – This cancer also starts in white blood cells, but a different type of them. It occurs most often in young people ages 15 to 35 and in adults age 50 and over.

Lymphoma is treatable. The therapy your doctor recommends will depend on which type of lymphoma you have, its stage and other key factors.


’Oma #4: Leukemia

A cancer of the blood, leukemia occurs when white blood cells multiply and outnumber red blood cells. The high amount of white blood cells (which fight infection) crowd out red blood cells (which transport oxygen) and platelets (which help blood to clot).

The two kinds of leukemia are:

  • Acute leukemia – Occurs when abnormal blood cells fail to mature and function normally. This type of leukemia can progress rapidly.
  • Chronic leukemia – Occurs among some immature and normal-functioning cells. This type of leukemia progresses slowly.


 Connecting oncologists to the most personalized and powerful cancer therapies.

Should you or a loved one be diagnosed with cancer, know that a highly advanced method of testing may be available to you. At Certis Oncology Solutions, our specialized orthotopic PDX testing is performed at our Cancer Treatment Center in San Diego. We test multiple drug therapies on your tumor (only the tumor, not you), at the same time, on specialized mice that have your tumor tissue implanted and growing. This testing can reveal extensive and precise data about what treatments will work most effectively against your tumor.


To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, call 858-228-4110.