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About These Cancers

Bladder Cancer

The bladder is the organ in the body that stores urine before it leaves the body. Smoking is the greatest risk factor associated with bladder cancer. The relationship between bladder cancer and drinking water contamination has also been researched extensively. High levels of arsenic in drinking water have been well-established as causing cancer. Read more about bladder cancer.

Cancer of the Brain and Central Nervous System

Brain cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the tissues of the brain and central nervous system including the spinal cord, meninges, and cranial nerves. Little is known about the causes of cancers of the brain and other parts of the central nervous system. Several studies of environmental risk factors have presented inconsistent and inconclusive results. Read more about brain and central nervous system cancers.

Childhood Cancers

Researchers have studied childhood cancers for many years but still do not know a lot about what causes them. Finding the causes of childhood cancers is challenging because cancer in children is rare and each type of cancer may have different factors that lead to its development. It is especially difficult to identify environmental factors related to childhood cancer because environmental exposures to the parent, the child in the womb, or the child after birth may play a role. Read more about leukemia in children.

  • Childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia

    Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL, also called acute lymphoblastic leukemia) accounts for about 3 out of 4 cases of childhood leukemia. ALL is most common in early childhood, peaking between 2 and 4 years of age. This leukemia starts from the lymphoid cells in the bone marrow and then spreads to the blood. From there it can go to the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, central nervous system, and other organs.

  • Childhood acute myeloid leukemia

    Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML, also called acute myeloid leukemia) accounts for most of the cases that are not ALL. Cases of AML are more spread out across the childhood years, although it is slightly more common during the first 2 years of life and during the teenage years. This leukemia starts from the cells that form white blood cells (other than lymphocytes), red blood cells, or platelets.

Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer is a cancer that forms in the esophagus, a muscular tube in the chest that is part of the digestive tract. Research is needed to better understand the relationship between the environment and esophageal cancer. Read more about esophageal cancer.

Female Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a tumor that starts from cells of the breast and can spread to distant areas of the body. Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in the United States., but men can have breast cancer too. The exact causes of breast cancer are unknown; however, there are some known risk factors. Read more about breast cancer.

Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer is a cancer that forms in tissues of the kidneys. Kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in both men and women. Research is needed to better understand the connection between the environment and kidney cancer. Read more about kidney cancer.

Laryngeal Cancer

Laryngeal cancer is a cancer that forms in the tissues of the larynx. The larynx is also known as the voice box. Research is needed to better understand the relationship between the environment and laryngeal cancer. Read more about laryngeal cancer.


Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells. When someone has leukemia, the body makes large numbers of abnormal blood cells. Leukemias are a diverse group of diseases including those listed below. The relationship between leukemia and the environment is still not well understood; however, studies have determined that exposure to high levels of ionizing radiation has been linked to specific types of leukemia in both adults and children. Read more about leukemia.

  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia

    Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a type of cancer that starts in the white blood cells (lymphocytes) in the bone marrow. It then invades the blood. Leukemia cells tend to build up in the body over time. In many cases people have no symptoms for at least a few years. Compared to other types of leukemia, CLL usually grows slowly.

  • Acute myeloid leukemia

    Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) goes by many names, including acute myelocytic leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia, acute granulocytic leukemia, and acute non-lymphocytic leukemia. "Acute" means that the leukemia can progress quickly, and if not treated, would probably be fatal in a few months.

    AML is a cancer that starts in the cells that are supposed to mature into different types of blood cells. AML starts in the bone marrow (the soft inner part of the bones, where new blood cells are made), but in most cases it quickly moves into the blood. Both children and adults can get leukemia.

Liver Cancer

Liver cancer is a disease in which cancer forms in the liver cells. The liver plays an important role in removing harmful substances from our blood. This includes environmental contaminants people come into contact with during their lifetimes. Even though the liver usually does a good job at removing those harmful substances, certain chemicals have been shown to damage the liver. For example, studies have shown that some people who drink water containing high levels of arsenic over many years could experience health effects including liver cancer. Read more about liver cancer.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer forms in the tissue of the lung, usually in the cells lining the air passages. The lungs are the organs we use to breathe. Cigarette smoking is the single most crucial risk factor for, and leading cause of, lung cancer. Exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Read more about lung cancer.


Melanoma is a type of cancer in skin cells that produce the pigment that colors the skin (melanin). It is the most dangerous and one of the most common cancers among adolescents and adults under 40. Most melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. However, a growing number of people are being overexposed to sun rays and other sources of artificial UV radiation used in industry and other settings such as indoor tanning (using a tanning bed, booth, or sunlamp). Read more about skin cancer.


Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer which is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. This type of cancer happens when harmful, or malignant, cells develop in the protective lining that covers most of the body's internal organs. The most common sites for mesothelioma are in the chest or belly, where cells become abnormal in response to asbestos fibers that have embedded in the outer lining of the lungs or chest cavity, the lining of the abdominal cavity (belly), or the sac that surrounds the heart. Read more about mesothelioma.

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (also called non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, NHL, or just lymphoma) is a group of cancers that start in lymphoid tissue (also called lymph or lymphatic tissue) and can then spread to other organs. The causes of Non-Hodgkin lymphomas are mostly unknown. Specific viruses, immune deficiency, and specific autoimmune conditions have been implicated in increased risk. However, some environmental issues, including exposures to pesticides and solvents, are also being investigated. Read more about lymphoma.

Oral and Pharyngeal Cancer

Oral and pharyngeal cancers, which are cancers of the mouth and throat, include cancers in the tongue, gum, floor of mouth, palate, lip, oral cavity, pharynx, and other areas of the mouth. Research is needed to better understand the relationship between the environment and oral and pharyngeal cancers. Read more about oral and pharyngeal cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is a cancer that forms in the pancreas, the thin, pear-shaped gland behind the stomach. The pancreas plays an important role in the digestive system by producing fluids to help break down food and hormones to control blood sugar levels. Research is needed to better understand the relationship between the environment and pancreatic cancer. Read more about pancreatic cancer.

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer affects the testes in men, and it often begins in the cells that make sperm. Testicular cancer is rare and is often curable. Men between the ages of 20-34 years old are the most frequently diagnosed with testicular cancer. The incidence of testicular cancer has risen in the past 20 years, and studies are being conducted to explore possible connections with environmental exposures. Read more about testicular cancer.

Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer is a cancer that starts in the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is under the Adam's apple in the front part of the neck. The excessive risk for thyroid cancer associated with exposure to external ionizing radiation has been well-established. No other environmental chemicals or physical agents have been associated with this cancer. Read more about thyroid cancer.

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