Your doctor may have told you about the specific type of lung cancer you have. And it may have been difficult to absorb the different terms and phrases. It’s important to learn as much as you can about the type and stage.  It’s also good to know what happens in each stage of lung cancer, how certain treatments can help, and to ensure you get the right treatment for you.

Generally, there are two main types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC).

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Most people with lung cancer are diagnosed with NSCLC. In fact, about 85% of lung cancer cases are NSCLC, meaning it starts in the larger cells in the lungs, like the ones that line the lung airways or produce mucus. There are 3 types of NSCLC:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma forms from flat cells on the inside of lung airways and is usually found in the middle of the lungs. People who have a history of smoking are more likely to have this type of NSCLC. About 25% to 30% of lung cancers are squamous cell carcinoma
  • Adenocarcinoma grows slowly on the outside parts of the lung. This type of NSCLC occurs more frequently in women than in men. It is also more common in non-smokers and younger people than other types of lung cancer. About 40% of lung cancers are adenocarcinoma
  • Large cell carcinoma is a fast-growing cancer found anywhere in the lung. About 10%-15% of lung cancers are this type

Small Cell Lung Cancer 

SCLC is much less common than NSCLC and starts in small, hormone-releasing cells. SCLC only accounts for about 10% to 15% of lung cancers.

Over recent years, there have been new and extraordinary advancements in the lung cancer space. That means people are living longer with better quality of life, because lung cancer is treatable. Talk with your doctor about the right testing and treatment options for you.