Lung Cancer

Types of Lung Cancer

There are three types of lung cancer, and each type is named uniquely based on the type of cells that the cancer originates in.

  • Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer- is the most common type of lung cancer, making up 80 to 85% of all lung cancers. Squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma are all subtypes.
    • Adenocarcinoma- these cancers start in early versions of the cells that would normally secrete substances such as mucus. It is usually found in the outer parts of the lung. About 40% of all lung cancers are adenocarcinomas. It is the most common cancer found in non smokers.
    • Squamous Cell Carcinoma- these cancers start in early versions of squamous cells, which are flat cells that line the inside of the airways in the lungs. They are often linked to a history of smoking and tend to be found in the central part of the lungs, near airways.
    • Large cell carcinoma- this type of cancer is less common, and accounts for about 10% to 15% of lung cancers. Large cell carcinoma can appear in any part of the lung.
  • Small Cell Lung Cancer– usually starts in the bronchi. Small Cell Lung Cancers make up for other 10-15% of lung cancers.
  • Lung Carcinoid Tumors– only 5% of lung cancers are not classified as Non-Small Lung Cancer or Small Cell Lung Cancers. These tumors form in neuroendocrine cells which produce hormones that help detect both oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the lungs.

Lung Cancer Treatments

  • Surgery
  • Radiofrequency Ablation
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted Therapy
  • Immunotherapy

Lung Cancer Screenings

Yearly low-dose CT scans are recommended for those who have a history of heavy smoking, or have within the last 15 years, and are between 55-80 years old. (Heavy smoking means a smoking history of 30 pack years or more. A pack year is smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes per day for one year. For example, a person could have a 30 pack-year history by smoking one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years). Screenings can stop if patients have not smoked in 15 years or after their 81st birthday. Note that it is still unhealthy to smoke, even if you are getting yearly screenings.

Lung Cancer Risk Factors

The most obvious risk factors for any type of lung cancer are smoking cigarettes, cigars, or being exposed to secondhand smoke. Exposure to radon, asbestos or other harmful carcinogens in the workplace also create a risk for cancer.


Information provided by 2018