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This information was reviewed and approved by Jeffrey Kern, MD, Bronwyn Long, DNP, MBA, ACHPN, AOCNS, ACNS-BC, Laurie L. Carr, MD (10/1/2019).

Are There Different Types of Lung Cancer?

There are several types of lung cancer. The major groups of lung cancer are non-small cell lung cancers, small cell lung cancers and carcinoid lung tumors.

Non-small Cell Lung Cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer. There are three main subtypes that make up the non-small cell cancer group. These include squamous cell carcinomas, adenocarcinomas and large cell undifferentiated carcinomas. What the cancer looks like under the microscope allows the pathologist (type of doctor) to assign the lung cancer to a particular subtype. Knowing these subtypes of cancer is becoming more important as treatment is becoming more targeted toward specific tumor subtypes.


Small Cell Lung Cancer

Small cell lung cancer makes up about 15 percent of all lung cancers. It is a faster growing more aggressive type of lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer is treated differently than non-small cell lung cancers.


Carcinoid Lung Tumors

Carcinoid lung tumors are a rare, slow-growing form of lung cancer.

Your doctor will discuss with you the type of lung cancer found. This is important because lung cancer treatment is based on the type and possibly the subtype of lung cancer you have.


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