Types of lung cancer
In general the disease is split into two main categories, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer.
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
Approximately 85 in every 100 people with lung cancer have non-small cell making it the most common group. All types of NSCLC are potentially suitable for surgery if they are diagnosed at an early enough stage.
Types of non-small cell lung cancer:
Small cell lung cancer
Around 15 of every 100 people with lung cancer have small cell lung cancer.
This type of lung cancer is made up of small round cells that form fleshy lumps and usually start in the larger airways. This type of lung cancer cell reproduces and grows very quickly. It may spread to the lymph nodes and/or other organs in the body. Small cell lung cancer is generally more responsive to chemotherapy treatment than other treatments. However radiotherapy may also be used. In rare cases this type of lung cancer can be surgically removed. Small cell lung cancer often reoccurs within a short space of time, so it is usual for you to attend regular check-ups to ensure any reoccurrence is found quickly.
Other lung cancers
There are a variety of other cancers that can affect the lungs but most of them are rare. Mesothelioma, pancoast and carcinoid tumours are three of the more common types, and are detailed below.
Mesothelioma can be difficult to treat as it is often found when it is at an advanced stage. Patients should therefore discuss treatment options with their cancer doctor or lung cancer nurse specialist. Treatment may include chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery. Please note that financial compensation from the government may be available if lung damage from exposure to asbestos is proven.
Other tumours are so rare that current information is best given by your doctor or lung cancer nurse specialist. Below are some further unusual types of lung cancer:
- Bronchial gland tumours.
- Pleural fibroma.
The most common places for lung cancer to spread to are the lymph nodes, bones (including the spine), liver, adrenal glands, skin and the brain. It is important to find out if any spread is present at diagnosis as this will help in deciding which treatment is best for the patient.
The following symptoms are sometimes associated with lung cancer metastasis. Anyone with concerns about any symptoms, pain or changes following a lung cancer diagnosis should talk to their hospital doctor of lung cancer nurse specialist.
- Frequent headaches
- Blurring of vision
- Pain in the bones, for example, ribs, legs, arms
- Weakness/numbness in the legs
- Sickness (especially in morning)
- Fluid between the lung and it’s lining (pleural effusion)
- Lumps on the skin