Non-small cell lung carcinoma

Approximately 80% of lung cancer patients have non-small cell lung carcinoma, making it the most common type of lung cancer. In non-small cell lung cancer, the tumor cells are the same size as – or larger than – regular cells in the lungs. This can be seen through a microscope. Non-small cell carcinoma grows relatively slowly and is less likely to spread throughout the body. Non-small cell carcinoma can be present in the body for years without causing any symptoms or problems. Once issues do arise, the tumor may already be metastatic.

There are three distinctive types of non-small cell lung cancers:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Large-cell carcinoma

Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of non-small cell lung carcinoma and can develop in people who smoke and people who do not smoke. The tumor is usually located on the outer parts of the lungs. Squamous cell carcinoma develops in cells coating the inner lining of the larger airways. About 30% of people with lung cancer have squamous cell carcinoma, most of them are or were smokers. This subtype tends to grow and spread quickly, which makes it harder to treat. Large-cell carcinoma represents about 10% of lung tumors.

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