Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Whether you're newly diagnosed or a person living with cancer or a caregiver, find information on the two main types of lung cancer: Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and Small Cell Lung Cancer.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

In the United States, 80 to 85 percent of lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). NSCLC and small cell lung cancer (SCLC) differ in how the cells look under a microscope, their origin, how quickly they spread to other parts of the body, and how they are treated.

Overview

The lungs are two organs in the chest that are responsible for breathing. They move oxygen from the air into the blood and carbon dioxide from the blood out of the body into the air. The lungs are divided into sections called lobes. There are three lobes in the right lung and two lobes in the left lung. A thin lining called the pleura surrounds the lobes. Air flows through your windpipe to the lung’s many tubes to help you breathe.

Treatment & Side Effects

There are many possible treatments for non-small cell lung cancer. They work in different ways and have different side effects. Be sure to ask about the side effects before you start treatment. Your treatment options will depend upon the stage of your lung cancer.

Risk Factors, Symptoms and Screening

A risk factor is something that increases your chances of developing a disease.

Coping with Lung Cancer

An important step in managing your lung cancer and its treatment is to be informed. Cancer is a complex and challenging disease that is treated in many different ways.

Small Cell Lung Cancer

Small cell lung cancer is a form of lung cancer that typically grows faster than non-small cell lung cancer and spreads to the lymph nodes and other organs more quickly. It is seen mostly in people who currently or formerly smoked (about 98 percent of cases are attributed to smoking).

Overview

Small Cell Lung Cancer, SCLC, is found in fewer than 15 percent of people with lung cancer. As the name suggests, it is defined by smaller size of the cancer cells. It is sometimes called oat cell cancer. Most people who develop SCLC are current or former smokers. About 15 percent of lung cancers in the U.S. are small cell lung cancers.

Treatment & Side Effects

As of 2018, new drugs are being used to treat small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Treatment still depends on the extent, or spread, of the cancer.

Risk Factors, Diagnosis, & Staging

A risk factor is something that increases your chances of developing a disease. Tobacco smoke is the main risk factor for small cell lung cancer. 

Coping with Lung Cancer

An important step in managing your lung cancer and its treatment is to be informed. Cancer is a complex and challenging disease that is treated in many different ways.