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  • Small Cell Lung Cancer and Non-small Cell Lung Cancer

  • There are several types of non-small cell lung cancer.

    Each type of non-small cell lung cancer has different kinds of cancer cells. The cancer cells of each type grow and spread in different ways. The types of non-small cell lung cancer are named for the kinds of cells found in the cancer and how the cells look under a microscope:

    • Squamous cell carcinoma: Cancer that begins in squamous cells, which are thin, flat cells that look like fish scales. This is also called epidermoid carcinoma.
    • Large cell carcinoma: Cancer that may begin in several types of large cells.
    • Adenocarcinoma: Cancer that begins in the cells that line the alveoli and make substances such as mucus.
      Other less common types of non-small cell lung cancer are: pleomorphic, carcinoid tumor, salivary gland carcinoma, and unclassified carcinoma.

    There are two types of small cell lung cancer.

    These two types include many different types of cells. The cancer cells of each type grow and spread in different ways. The types of small cell lung cancer are named for the kinds of cells found in the cancer and how the cells look when viewed under a microscope:

    • Small cell carcinoma (oat cell cancer).
    • Combined small cell carcinoma.

    As with any cancer, cells can break from the original tumor and spread to other areas of the body. The spreading of cancer cells is known as metastasis. While lung cancer can spread to any organ in the body, certain organs, particularly the adrenal glands, liver, brain, and bone, are the most common sites for lung cancer metastasis. The extent of metastasis is measured in stages. Lung cancer tends to metastasize very early after it forms.