Lung cancer is a disease that affects millions of people around the world, and it can be fatal. At the very least, it will leave people extremely unwell and unable to enjoy their normal lives. However, although the term ‘lung cancer’ is one that everyone will have heard of and have some form of understanding about (even if that understanding is limited unless you are a medical expert or have gone through the disease yourself), it might surprise many people to find that there are different types of lung cancer. Read on to find out more.
Table of Content
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for around eighty-five percent of all cases. However, there are three subtypes of this form of lung cancer, each of which is slightly different.
It’s important to know exactly which type of NSCLC you might have to get the right treatment and understand the outcomes. Once you know what type of cancer you have, you can speak to the experts at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL, to discuss treatment options. The three types of NSCLC are:
- Adenocarcinoma: This is the most common subtype of non-small cell lung cancer, and it is most often found in non-smokers and younger people. The good news about this type of lung cancer is that it grows very slowly, and this means that once it is detected, treatment is highly effective.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This particular type of cancer will develop in the center of the lungs, which means that the tumors are close to the airways, which is why this can be dangerous. This type of lung cancer is most often found in smokers, and symptoms to look out for include coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
- Large Cell Carcinoma: Large cell carcinoma is much less common than the other types of lung cancer listed above, but it grows much more quickly, making it a highly dangerous form to be diagnosed with. To have effective treatment, detection has to occur early.
Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is responsible for around fifteen percent of lung cancer cases, and it is this that is most closely linked to smoking as a cause. The biggest issue with this kind of cancer is that it grows fast and spreads quickly, not just in the lungs but to other parts of the body as well.
The best course of action to treat this kind of lung cancer is usually radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Although not technically lung cancer, mesothelioma is related to lung cancer due to its association with asbestos exposure; it affects the lining of the lungs and other organs. Symptoms, such as chest pain, breathing difficulties, and a persistent cough, may appear decades after asbestos exposure, by which time much of the damage will have been done.
Unlike most other forms of lung cancer, carcinoid tumors tend to grow slowly and are relatively benign. Although most commonly detected in the digestive system, they can also manifest in the pulmonary system. Carcinoid tumors cause symptoms like flushing, wheezing, and diarrhea due to the production of hormones.