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Types of Lung Cancer

Updated on June 10, 2012

There are the two main types of lung cancer being, non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer.

Non-small cell lung cancer

Is the most common of the two, accounting for 80% of cancers, mainly affecting non-smokers and women.Treatment and survival from non small-cell lung cancer are strongly determined by the stage of the cancer at diagnosis. There are four stages of lung cancer with stage 4 being the most advanced.

NSCLC can be divided into three main types that are named based upon the type of cells found in the tumor:

Adenocarcinomas are the most common and comprise up to 50% of NSCLC. Although this type of lung cancer is associated with smoking, this type of cancer has been seen in non-smokers as well. Most adenocarcinomas arise in the outer, or peripheral, areas of the lungs.

Squamous cell carcinomas used to be more common than adenocarcinomas; however, at present, they account for about 30% of NSCLC. Squamous cell cancers arise most frequently in the central chest area in the bronchi. They are also known as epidermoid carcinomas

Large cell carcinomas, sometimes referred to as undifferentiated carcinomas, are the least common type of NSCLC.

Small Cell Lung Cancer

20% of lung cancers are small cell lung cancers, a rapidly growing, rapidly spreading cancer primarily caused by smoking.

This particular cancer metastasizes rapidly to other sites within the body and are most often discovered after they have spread extensively.

It responds well to chemotherapy treatment (medication that kills cancer cells) and radiation therapy (high dose x-rays that kill cancer cells)

Small Cell Lung Cancer Staging

It is important that small cell lung cancer staging is carried out in order that the best treatment options can be determined for your particular cancer. It also helps your doctor understand and explain your prognosis to you.


Other Types of Lung Cancer

There are other types of cancers that arise in the lung; these types are not as common as the NSCLC and SCLC and together compromise 5%-10% of lung cancers:

Bronchial carcinoids account for up to 5% of lung cancers. They are small tumors that usually occur in people under the age of 40,

Carcinoids. Unrelated to cigarette smoking carcinoid tumors can metastasize, and a small proportion of them secrete hormone-like substances that may cause specific symptoms related to the hormone being produced. Carcinoids usually grow and spread much more slowly than bronchogenic cancers, and if detected early enough are amenable to surgical resection.

Metastatic Cancers from other primary tumors in the body are often found in the lung. Tumors from anywhere in the body can spread to the lungs either through the bloodstream,the lymphatic system, or directly from organs in close proximity to the lungs.


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    • editorsupremo profile image

      editorsupremo 5 years ago from London, England

      Your're welcome urmlishukla23. I am sorry to hear that you are suffering from interstitial lung disease especially as you have never smoked in your life. But there are a few other causes as to why you may have got the disease. Are you on oxygen to assist your breathing?

    • urmilashukla23 profile image

      Urmila 5 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA

      I am suffering with severe Interstitial lung disease and I have never smoked in my life. Thanks for providing a great information about Lung Cancer.

      Voted up!