Health & Well-Being

What Are the Types of Lung Cancer?

We live in a time of technological advancement, yet we continue to experience issues with curing and treating some of the most severe health conditions. When it comes to lung cancer, specifically, a massive percentage of the population associates it with smoking and only looks at it from one perspective.

There are many forms of lung cancer, just as there are many forms of other health conditions.

Each requires a different kind of treatment. Regardless of whether you or a family member has a form of lung cancer, it is important to know how these types differ from one another.

Although there are other rarer forms of lung cancer, most cases will fall into two categories: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). The most common type of lung cancer is NSCLC. Nine out of 10 cases will be diagnosed as this type.

NSCLC and SCLC are treated differently. Doctors will perform a lung biopsy to determine which type, classifying the lung cancer based on the microscopic appearance of the cells retrieved from the tumor. 


Any variety of epithelial lung cancer that isn’t small-cell lung cancer is considered non-small cell lung cancer. The following types of carcinomas differ from SCLC because they don’t respond to chemotherapy. 

Adenocarcinoma accounts for approximately 30% of all lung cancer diagnoses. This type of cancer affects the lungs’ outer region, where the glands that secrete mucus are located. The survival rate for adenocarcinoma is approximately 33%. 

Squamous Cell Lung Cancer
Squamous cell lung cancer accounts for 30% of all NSCLC cases. Its leading cause is smoking. This type affects the central area of the lung where the trachea and the bronchi meet. Around 16% of those diagnosed with this type of cancer survive five years or more.

Large-Cell Undifferentiated Carcinoma
Large-cell undifferentiated carcinoma can be found anywhere on the lung. This type of cancer spreads fast and tends to grow quickly. It accounts for 10-15% of all diagnosed lung cancer cases. This type of cancer generally has a five-year survival rate.


Lung cancer cells that look like oats under the microscope indicate small-cell lung cancer. This type of lung cancer tends to begin in the bronchi before rapidly metastasizes to other parts of the body. It is caused by cigarette smoking.

Small-cell lung cancer is an aggressive type of lung cancer, so those diagnosed with it begin treatment right away. There are two types: oat-cell cancer and combined small cell carcinoma. These types of cancer are much more likely to respond to chemotherapy


There are other types of lung cancer besides large-cell and small-cell. Though they are rare, they can be just as deadly, if not more so. 

Mesothelioma is caused by inhaling tiny asbestos particles. There is no cure for pleural mesothelioma, no matter how early diagnosed. In most cases, this type of lung cancer won’t be diagnosed until the end stages because the symptoms are the same as several less-serious conditions. Unfortunately, once a patient is diagnosed, they won’t have long to live. 

How do you get tested for mesothelioma? If you feel you are having lung cancer symptoms, like chest pain and a dry cough, and have ever been exposed to asbestos, tell your doctor so they can give you a CT scan or an X-ray.

Sarcomatoid Carcinoma of the Lung
This very aggressive form of lung cancer accounts for only 0.1-0.4% of all lung cancers. Like mesothelioma, even if this type of cancer is caught in the early stages, it still has a poor prognosis.

Malignant Granular Cell Lung Tumors
Malignant granular cell lung tumors are so rare that there have only been a few cases reported. The treatment options for this kind of lung tumor will depend on its size.

Adenosquamous Carcinoma of the Lung
This relatively rare type of lung cancer is a hybrid of lung squamous cell lung cancer and adenocarcinoma. This form of lung cancer has a five-year survival rate of just 6.2%.

Large Cell Neuroendocrine Carcinoma
This form of pulmonary cancer is an aggressive subtype of NSCLC that also contains SCLC cells. The five-year survival rate is 54%.

Salivary Gland-Type Lung Carcinoma
This kind of lung cancer is rare and typically found in younger patients. Salivary gland-type lung carcinoma typically begins in the lungs’ central airways. This cancer has a five-year survival rate of 65%. 

Once doctors form their diagnosis and determine the type and stage of lung cancer, they will create a treatment plan to for the longest and highest quality of life possible.

If you’re experiencing any lung cancer symptoms and believe you may be at risk, make sure to voice your concerns to your physician.


Charles Britton

Charles Britton is a USA based blogger and amateur photographer with a background in journalism, covering health-related matters. He enjoys experimenting with various writing techniques in both print and digital.

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