What are the Different Types of Lung Cancer?

December 18, 2020 by ChestMed Pte Ltd.35

When it comes to lung cancer, there are two main types: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). The former accounts for as much as 9 out of 10 diagnoses. SCLC grows at a slower rate compared to NSCLC.

Small Cell Lung Cancer

Small cell lung cancer is also sometimes referred to as oat cell cancer because under the microscope, the cells resemble oats. This type of cancer typically starts in the bronchi. From there, it quickly grows and spreads to other parts of the patient’s body including the lymph nodes.

If you suspect you have small cell lung cancer, it is recommended that you see the best lung cancer specialist you can find. Small cell lung cancer represent a small percentage of lung cancers (around 20 percent). This kind of lung cancer is often attributed to tobacco smoking.

Small cell lung cancer can be aggressive and times and will require immediate lung cancer treatment. Treatment option for this type of cancer include:

  • Immunotherapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Laser therapy
  • Surgery

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer is considered more common between the two. Nearly 9 out of 10 cases are non-small cell lung cancer. This type often grows at a much slower rate compared to SCLC. Unfortunately, many people see a lung cancer specialist too late since this type of cancer doesn’t often manifest any symptoms until it’s in the advanced state.

Non-small cell lung cancer has three types:

  • Adenocarcinoma of the lung. This is the most prevalent form of lung cancer. Adenocarcinomas can be found in some common cancers such as colorectal, prostate, and breast cancer.  Adenocarcinomas of the lung usually develop in the lung’s outer region (in the glands that help people breathe and secrete mucus). Common symptoms of adenocarcinoma include hoarseness, weight loss, weakness, and coughing.
  • Large-cell undifferentiated carcinoma. This form of cancer grows and spreads quickly and can develop anywhere in the lung.
  • Squamous cell. This form of cancer is found centrally in the lung (where the larger bronchi joins the trachea). It can also be found in the lung’s main airway branches. This form of cancer accounts for around 30 percent of non-small cell lung cancer. Squamous cells are often associated with smoking.

Treatment options for non-small cell lung cancer include:

  • Immunotherapy
  • Cryotherapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Laser therapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Surgery

Lung Nodules

Lung nodules are small growth that can be found inside the lung. Also referred as pulmonary nodules, this type develops no symptoms and are often found in tests used to diagnose another condition.

Most lung nodules are smaller than a golf ball and are often benign. However, some can become cancerous tumours overtime. When it grows, it can cause breathing issues and other symptoms. 

If the lung nodule is discovered through an imaging test, your doctor might monitor it closely to see if it changes shape or grows. When it comes to lung nodules, getting an accurate and fast diagnosis is considered crucial. When diagnosed early, patients have more treatment options available.

Metastatic Lung Cancer

Since symptoms do not always develop when someone has lung cancer, it is common for cancer to metastasize before it can be diagnosed. There are also other very rare forms of lung cancer such as salivary gland-type lung carcinoma (usually found in the lung’s central airways), large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma, lung carcinoids (typically develops in younger than average patients), mesothelioma (develops in the thin issue called mesothelium), sarcomatoid carcinoma of the lung, and malignant granular cell lung tumors.


ChestMed Pte Ltd.


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