There are actually two types of lung cancer; non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Lung cancer often refers to NSCLC which represents 80% of cases with SCLC representing the other 20%. In this article I will be discussing NSCLC in more detail.
As I already said NSCLC is the most common of the two types of lung cancer. It can actually be further broken down into three types; Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Adenocarcinoma and Large Cell Carcinoma. I will be discussing each of these below.
1) SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA:- This type of NSCLC develops when the cells that line the airways start to grow in a rapid and uncontrollable way. It often spreads to other areas of the body quite easily because of the regular passage of fluids (blood and lymph) through the lungs.
2) ADENOCARCINOMA:- This type of NSCLC occurs when the mucus producing cells of the lungs start to grow rapidly and uncontrollably eventually leading to the formation of a tumour. It does not spread as easily as other forms of NSCLC and often stays localised.
3) LARGE CELL CARCINOMA:- This type of NSCLC can develop in any area of the lung. It is different to the other types of NSCLC because the tumours that form lack the structure of typical cancerous cells. Large cell carcinoma generally grows more quickly and spreads more easily than any other type of non-small cell lung cancer.
The majority of non-small cell lung cancers are caused by smoking. Smokers are believed to be 10 times more likely to contract NSCLC than non-smokers whilst heavy smokers (20 or more cigarettes per day) are thought to be up to 40 times more likely to develop this type of cancer. However, there are other risk factors including exposure to asbestos, radon and even inherited faulty genes.
The symptoms of NSCLC are often related to the lungs. A chronic cough, chest pain and having trouble breathing are all thought to be possible signs for this type of cancer. If you notice any of the above you should go see your doctor and let them know. They will then be able to perform the appropriate tests and if necessary treat the cancer.
Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common form of lung cancer in the UK. It is a very dangerous condition with approximately 38,000 people contracting it each year. I hope this article has helped you understand the various types of NSCLC. If you are suspicious that you have have developed this type of cancer you should go and see your doctor right away. They are trained to deal with this condition and will be able to give you the best guidance possible.
Whilst every intention has been made to make this article accurate and informative, it is intended for general information only. Lung cancer is a very serious, life threatening condition and you should discuss any concerns, treatments or lifestyle changes fully with your doctor.