Types Of Lung Cancer And Other Vital Information You Should Know About

Today our post focuses on the types of lung cancer and what you should know about it. 

Types of lung cancer

What is lung cancer?

Before we talk about the types of lung cancer, let’s get to understand it first. Like any other cancer, lung cancer also develops when the normal process of cell division and growth is disrupted. This gives way to abnormal and uncontrollable growth. These cells grow into a tumor also known as a mass. Matter of fact any abnormal growth in the body that invades any surrounding organ or tissues and spreads to other parts of the body. And has the ability to regrow even after its surgically removed is known as a malignant or cancerous tumor.¬†

Types Of Lung Cancer 

As said above there are two types of lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer or SCLC and non-small cell lung cancer or NSCLC. The classification of cancer is based on the microscopic appearance of the cells with tumors. 

As said in the description both grow, spread and get treated in totally different manner. So, you should know the difference between them. 

Types of lung cancer

SCLC: SCLC comprises only 10%-15% of all lung cancer cases. SCLC is more aggressive and grows rapidly. SCLC is also highly related to cigarette smoking. SCLCs metastasize rapidly, reaching many sites within our body. Most often they are discovered after the cancer has spread extensively. 

NSCLC: NSCLC is more commonly reported and accounts for nearly 85% of lung cancers reported. NSCLC is of three types and is diagnosed by the cell type found in the mass. And, they are:

Adenocarcinomas: This is the most common NSCLC found in the U. S. and comprises up-to 40% of lung cancer cases. While it is associated with smoking, it’s also seen in non-smokers, women in particular. Most of the cases have tumors growing in the outer or peripheral areas of the lungs. They also tend to spread beyond being only lymph nodes.¬†

Adenocarcinoma in situ: Previously known as bronchioloalveolar carcinoma, is the subtype and develops at multiple sites within the lungs. And spreads along the alveolar walls. On the chest X-ray it will look like pneumonia. Over time it’s been increasing, particularly in women. People with this lung cancer have better prognosis than those with other types of lung cancer.¬†

Types of lung cancer

Squamous cell carcinomas: Once this was more common than above first mentioned, but today it accounts for 25%-30% of all cases. This cancer arises mostly in the central chest bronchi area. This type of lung cancer often remains in the lungs and spreads as lymph nodes. These nodes tend to grow quite large and form a cavity. 

Large cell carcinomas: At times it’s also referred to as the undifferentiated carcinomas. It’s also the least common NSCLC lung cancer with only 10%-15% of cases. This type has the highest spreading tendency and can reach distant sites in the body.¬†

Other Types Of Lung Cancer 

Apart from these, there are other types of lung cancer as well. Though these types are less common than the above SCLC and NSCLC. Together they comprise only 5%-10% of lung cancer cases. And, they are:

Bronchial carcinoids: This cancer accounts for 5% of lung cancer cases. Basically the masses are small, barely 3-4 cm or less in size on diagnosis. And is often found in people under the age of 40. This type is not related to smoking. The carcinoid tumors tend to metastasize. While a small proportion of this tumor secretes a hormone-like substance. They grow and spread much slower than bronchogenic cancers. And most of the time, it’s detected early enough for surgery removal.¬†

Metastatic cancers: This type of lung cancer differs from the other primary tumors and is found in the lungs. This tumor can spread from anywhere in the body into the lungs. It travels through either the bloodstream, or through the lymphatic system. It can travel directly from the nearby organs as well. 

 Rare Chest Cancers 

Apart from the above said ones, there are about a dozen uncommon types of tumors as well. They all develop in the chest, and not all of them arise in the lungs. Some of the lesser common types are carcinoid tumors and it’s often located in the airway.¬†

Mesothelioma: This cancer usually affects the mesothelium. It’s the protective membrane that protects the body’s internal organs. This cancer is rare and affects about 3,000 every year. And the cancer usually shows¬† in the mesothelium that surrounds the pleura or lungs. And at times is known to develop in the pericardium that covers the heart. People exposed to decades of asbestos are more prone to have it.¬†

The Stages Of Lung Cancer 

Staging the illness allows the physician to completely understand the extent of the cancer spreading in the person. It helps in predicting the outcome. Doctors have specific terms they use to describe the different stages of cancer. Here is a straightforward way for you to understand them better:

Local: The cancer is in the lungs and confined there. 

Regional: The cancer has spread into the chest lymph nodes or glands. 

Distant: The cancer is spreading to the other parts of the body. 

Symptoms You Should Look Out For 

Unfortunately the signs or symptoms are not visible until the cancer has already spread out. However, some people do show early signs making it possible to diagnose and cure them. The signs include:

  • Coughing that’s not improving
  • Blood in sputum and phlegm expelled while coughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Infections that return even after treating
  • Chest pain that worsens after coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Weakness

If the cancer has spread to other organs or parts of the body, some symptoms might include bone pain, muscle pain and weakness, eyelids drooping. 

Cancer Diagnosis And Management Process 

Usually the concern the patient might be having lung cancer is after the doctor sees an abnormal finding during the chest examine study via a CT scan or a chest X-ray. Another cause for concern arises when the disease has advanced enough to cause symptoms that include chest pain, fatigue, weight loss, shortness of breath and coughing. 


To diagnose lung cancer your doctor will need your biopsy, or removal of tissues or cells from the suspicious tumor area. Biopsies are performed in two ways. One is sending in a camera through the breathing tube known as bronchoscopy. The other is inserting a needle through the skin into the suspected tumor in the lung. 

In case, these approaches don’t prove effective, then surgery might be required to get a better diagnosis. Biopsy is the only way to determine if the person is having cancer or not and which type of lung cancer.¬†