There are two main types of lung cancer: non-small cell
lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Each looks different under a microscope
and grows and spreads differently. But both types of lung cancer share the same staging system. Your doctor will consider the type and the stage of lung cancer
in determining the possible options for treatment.
Non-small cell lung cancer
Non-small cell lung
cancer is more common than small cell lung cancer. About 85% of all lung
cancers are non-small cell cancer. It typically grows
and spreads more slowly than small cell lung cancer.
Adenocarcinoma. This type often begins
near the outside surface of the lung and may vary both in size and how fast it
grows. Adenocarcinoma is likely to spread to lymph nodes and other organs. This
type is more common than other types of lung cancer in women, nonsmokers, and
Squamous cell carcinoma, also called epidermoid
carcinoma. This type usually begins in one of the larger airway tubes
(bronchi), typically grows more slowly than the other types of non-small cell
cancer, and may vary in size from very small to very large. Squamous cell
carcinoma may spread to nearby lymph nodes or to other
Large cell carcinoma. This type often begins near the
surface of the lung and usually is large when diagnosed. Large cell carcinoma
is likely to spread to lymph nodes and other organs.
Small cell lung cancer
Small cell lung cancer is
less common than non-small cell lung cancer. About 15% of lung cancers are
small cell. This type of cancer grows very rapidly
and in most people has already spread to other organs in the body
by the time it is diagnosed.
Small cell lung cancer is divided into two categories:
Limited disease, where the tumor is only in one lung, in the tissues between the lungs, and in nearby lymph nodes.
Extensive disease, which means the tumor has spread beyond the lung and nearby lymph nodes, or pleural effusion is present.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerMichael Seth Rabin, MD - Medical Oncology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.