Home  >  Health Encyclopedia  >  Health Encyclopedia Home

Health Encyclopedia

 

Health Encyclopedia Home



Lung Cancer Introduction

Lung Cancer Introduction

 

lung carcinoma
Microscopic image of lung carcinoma.

What is lung cancer?

Lung cancer is cancer that begins in the lungs. It is the second most common cancer in both men and women, as well as the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women.  

There are two main types of lung cancer. They are non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. A doctor called a pathologist uses a microscope to look at the cancer cells collected during your biopsy to tell which type of cancer you have. These two types of lung cancer grow and spread in different ways. Therefore, they are treated differently. Non-small cell lung cancer usually grows and spreads more slowly than small cell lung cancer. 

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

About 85% to 90% of lung cancers are non-small cell. There are three main types of NSCLC. While there are slight differences between them, they tend to have a similar prognosis (outlook) and are generally treated the same way:

  • Adenocarcinoma. This is the most common kind of non-small cell lung cancer. And it's the most common type of lung cancer in nonsmokers. It tends to grow in the outer edges of your lungs, and usually grows more slowly than other types of lung cancer. 

  • Squamous cell carcinoma (epidermoid carcinoma). This type of non-small cell lung cancer develops more often in smokers. These cancers tend to start in the middle part of the lungs.

  • Large cell. This is the least common of the three kinds of non-small cell lung cancer. It tends to grow and spread early to other organs, which can make it harder to treat.

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)

Only about 10% to 15% of people diagnosed with lung cancer have small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer is also called oat cell cancer. It grows and spreads more quickly than non-small cell lung cancer. It often spreads to other parts of the body at an early stage. This type of cancer is almost always associated with smokers. If you don't smoke, you aren't likely to get small cell lung cancer.

 
Related Items
Wellness Library
  Medical Symptoms You Should Never Ignore
Content Type 134
  AIDS-Related Malignancies
Cancer Source
  Statistics About Lung Cancer
  Am I At Risk for Lung Cancer?
  Can I Get Checked for Lung Cancer Before I Have Symptoms?
  What Are the Symptoms of Lung Cancer?
  How Lung Cancer Spreads
  How Does My Doctor Know I Have Lung Cancer?
  Tests That Help Evaluate Lung Cancer
  Questions to Ask About Treatment for Lung Cancer
  Making the Decision to Have Surgery for Lung Cancer
  Advances in Early Detection of Lung Cancer
  Photodynamic Therapy for Lung Cancer
  Struggling to Breathe: Tips for Managing Dyspnea
  Superior Vena Cava Syndrome
  Do What You Can to Ease Side Effects of Treatment and Symptoms of Lung Cancer
  I’ve Just Been Told I Have Lung Cancer
  What to Know About Radiation Therapy for Lung Cancer
  How Your Doctor Uses Biopsies to Make a Diagnosis of Lung Cancer
  Stages of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
  Stages of Small Cell Lung Cancer
  Can I Survive Lung Cancer? What Is My Prognosis?
  What Can I Do If I’m At Risk for Lung Cancer?
  What Happens During PDT for Lung Cancer
  What to Expect After PDT for Lung Cancer
  What Happens During Surgery for Lung Cancer
  What to Expect After Surgery for Lung Cancer
  Making the Decision to Have Radiation Treatment for Lung Cancer
  What Happens During External Radiation Treatment for Lung Cancer
  Making the Decision to Have Chemotherapy to Treat Lung Cancer
  What to Expect After Chemotherapy for Lung Cancer
Cancer FAQs
  Frequently Asked Questions About Lung Cancer
NCI Patient Summary
  Lung Cancer Prevention (PDQ®)
  Lung Cancer Screening (PDQ®)
Adult Diseases and Conditions
  Home Page - Respiratory Disorders
  Lung Cancer
Test and Procedures
  Lung Biopsy