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All about lung cancer types of lung cancer small cell lung cancer non-small cell lung cancer causes of lung cancer risk factors for lung cancer lung cancer symptoms diagnosis of lung cancer lung cancer stages lung cancer treatments treatment for small cell lung cancer non-small cell lung cancer treatment treatment for non-small cell lung cancer by stage lung cancer survival rate prevention of lung cancer asbestos lung cancer

What types of lung cancer are there?

The lungs are made up of several kinds of cells that perform different functions. The type of lung cancer depends on which cell type is affected. There are two kinds of lung cancers, primary and secondary. Primary lung cancer starts in the lung itself. Primary lung cancer is divided into small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer, depending on how the cells look under the microscope. Primary lung cancer is uncommon in nonsmokers, but cancer of the breast, colon, prostate, testicle,

kidney, thyroid, bone or other organs may spread to the lungs. In that case, however, the cancer is still referred to by the name of the organ in which it originated, rather than being called lung cancer. Secondary lung cancer is cancer that starts somewhere else in the body (for example, the breast or colon) and spreads to the lungs. There are two main types of lung cancer categorised by the size of the malignant cells seen under a microscope: small and non-small cell lung cancer. This classification although based on simple pathomorphological criteria has very important implications for clinical management and prognosis of the disease.

Small cell lung cancer

Small cell lung cancer (also called oat cell carcinoma, SCLC) is the less common form of lung cancer, making up 20% of cases. It tends to start in the larger breathing tubes and grows rapidly becoming quite large. This type is a very aggressive cancer and spreads to other organs within a short time. This is important because it means that treatment must include drugs to kill the widespread disease. The cancer cells can multiply quickly, form large tumors, and spread to lymph nodes and other organs such as the bones, brain, adrenal glands, and liver. This type of cancer often starts in the bronchi near the center of the chest. Small cell lung cancer is almost always caused by smoking. It is very rare for someone who has never smoked to have small cell lung cancer. Other names for SCLC are oat cell carcinoma and small cell undifferentiated carcinoma.

Non-small cell lung cancer

Non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) account for the remaining 75% of lung cancers. They can be further subdivided into three categories. Non–small cell lung cancer is more common than small cell lung cancer. Over 80% of all lung cancers are non–small cell cancer. It generally grows and spreads more slowly than small cell lung cancer. The cells in these sub-types differ in size, shape, and chemical make-up.

About 25% - 30% of all lung cancers are squamous cell carcinomas. They are associated with a history of smoking and tend to be found centrally, near a bronchus. Adenocarcinoma accounts for about 40% of lung cancers. It is usually found in the outer region of lung. People with one type of adenocarcinoma, known as bronchioloalveolar carcinoma (sometimes called bronchioalveolar carcinoma or bronchoalveolar carcinoma), tend to have a better outlook (prognosis) than those with other types of lung cancer. Large-cell undifferentiated carcinoma accounts for about 10% - 15% of lung cancers. It may appear in any part of the lung, and it tends to grow and spread quickly resulting in a poor prognosis.

Other types of lung cancer

In addition to the 2 main types of lung cancer, other tumors can occur in the lungs. Some of these are non-cancerous (benign). Carcinoid tumors of the lung account for fewer than 5% of lung tumors. Most are slow-growing tumors that are called typical carcinoid tumors. They are generally cured by surgery. Although some typical carcinoid tumors can spread, they usually have a better prognosis than small cell or non-small cell lung cancer. Cancers intermediate between the benign carcinoids and small cell lung cancer are known as atypical carcinoid tumors.

More information on lung cancer

What is lung cancer? - Lung cancer is a malignant tumour of the lungs. Lung cancer is the cancer that originates in the tissues of the lungs. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths.
What types of lung cancer are there? - The lungs are made up of several kinds of cells that perform different functions. The type of lung cancer depends on which cell type is affected.
What is small cell lung cancer? - Small cell lung cancer is a type of lung cancer in which the cells look like oats. Small cell lung cancer is almost always caused by smoking.
What is non-small cell lung cancer? - Non-small cell lung cancers include squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, large cell carcinoma, adenosquamous carcinoma, and undifferentiated carcinoma.
What causes lung cancer? - Cigarette smoking is the most significant cause of lung cancer. Asbestos exposure increases the risk of lung cancer. Lung diseases create a risk for lung cancer.
What're the risk factors for lung cancer? - Risk factors for lung cancer include tobacco smoking, marijuana, asbestos, radon, lung diseases, radiation therapy, work-related exposure to substances.
What're the signs and symptoms of lung cancer? - Lung cancer may cause a number of symptoms. The primary symptoms of lung cancer are cough, shortness of breath, hoarseness, blood in the sputum, and pain.
How is lung cancer diagnosed? - Diagnosis of lung cancer may be made by physical examination, chest X rays, bronchoscopy, or percutaneous needle biopsy. Lung biopsy is the most definitive diagnostic tool for cancer.
What're the lung cancer stages? - Lung cancer is staged according to its location, size, cell type, and spread. Knowing the stage of lung cancer helps the doctor set the treatment plan.
What're the treatments for lung cancer? - The treatment of lung cancer depends on the type and stage of the disease and includes surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
What's the treatment for small cell lung cancer? - At limited stage treatments for small cell lung cancer include various combinations of chemotherapy, radiation.
What's the treatment for non-small cell lung cancer? - Surgery is the primary treatment for all non¨Csmall cell lung cancers. Radiation therapy may be administered.
Treatment for non-small cell lung cancer by stage - Stage III non-small cell lung cancer are treated with radiation and sometimes with surgery, chemotherapy, or combinations of each.
What's the prognosis of lung cancer survival rate? - The prognosis of lung cancer depends on the type of lung cancer, its stage, and the overall health of the patient.
How to prevent lung cancer? - Prevention of lung cancer includes quitting smoking and avoiding exposure to potentially cancer-causing substances in the work environment.
Asbestos lung cancer - The most serious hazard of exposure to asbestos is cancer. Lung cancer causes the largest number of deaths related to asbestos exposure.
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005