I've spent a few hours going through the Johns Hopkins short course entitled "Introduction to the Biology of Cancer" and which covers almost exactly what I was looking for: major types of cancer (lung, stomach, colon, liver, breast and prostate, but curiously not skin cancer), known causes (spoiler: don't smoke), genetic bases, metastatic process, treatment options, epidemiology, prognoses.
The course uses terms without definition at times, so the student should have a basic understanding of biology (example terms used without definition: "histology" and "allele"). But that's about it: no chemistry, cellular biology, pathology, statistics, or other background is needed.
My one concern thus far: there seem to be a few misstatements I wouldn't expect from Johns Hopkins professors (and I'm a medical lay person so I could be wrong, but I think it's they who are wrong). Example misstatements:
- A variation in nucleotides is called a "polymorphism" or a "single-nucleotide polymorphism" (while SNPs are overwhelmingly the most common polymorphisms, there are multiple-nucleotide polymorphisms as well)
- No one else has an exact copy of your DNA (tell this to an identical twin)
- A "mutation" is a detrimental genetic variation that increases the risk of developing a disease (there are benign mutations (most in fact) as well as beneficial mutations; in fact, beneficial mutations drive the process of evolution)
Am I being too pedantic? Perhaps. Overall, I am deeply grateful I have access to this resource, from experts, for free. The course is available to audit for free through Coursera (https://coursera.org/learn/cancer) or you can pay $49 USD if you want to take the exams and get course credit. (I am in no way affiliated with Coursera.)