Common Types of Lung Cancers
Lung cancers are classified by cell type, tumor location and progression of the disease at the time of diagnosis. Systems for categorizing lung cancer tumors help determine how clinicians approach treatment and assign a prognosis. Cancers of the lungs are identified as malignant cells in the respiratory pathways, the squamous cells of the lung tissue lining or anywhere in the pleural cavity of the chest area.
Over 75% of recorded cases are considered non-small cell cancer of the lung. Distinguished by the appearance of these cells under the microscope, this type is often operable. Squamous cell, basaloid and adenocarcinoma are variations of the non small-cell variety. In addition to non small-cell or large carcinomas, small cell carcinoma (SCLC) is a main classification for lung cancers. It comprises approximately 20% of diagnosed cases worldwide. Programs of treatment and prognosis are adjusted for small cell patients. This variation can begin in other organs, but has an aggressive nature when it originates in the lungs. Consequently, this form of the disease often has a dismal prognosis.
It is important for doctors to identify SCLC as early as possible. The disease frequently blocks major arteries to the heart and can cause restricted blood flow to the brain and head. Swelling and redness in the face can occur as a result. This cancer is often identified by measuring the presence of chemicals secreted by malignant cells.
People with large cell cancers of the lung can experience chest pain, coughing with bloody sputum and difficulty breathing. As with SCLC, an early diagnosis is beneficial for the prognosis of the patient. That said, many cases are not diagnosed until they are in advanced stages.
Prognosis and Treatment
SCLC metastasizes rapidly and is likely to spread to other parts of the body. According to a Harvard medical study, most cases of small cell carcinoma are in advanced stages at the time of diagnosis. Surgical removal is rarely an option and will be coupled with other forms of therapy when it is performed. In NSCLC, surgery is often used to remove primary tumors and followed by radiation or chemotherapy to lower the chances of a recurrence.