Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer

Non-small-cell lung cancer is more commonly referred to as NSCLC. It is the prominent type of lung cancer, as it is diagnosed in over 80 percent of total lung cancer patients. Lung cancer is divided into types due to the treatments and prognosis associated with each. The type of lung cancer a patient has can have very different outcomes and management options. The name NSCLC refers to how the cancerous cells appear under a microscope. Lung cancers can start in the cells lining the bronchi and other parts of the lung, such as the alveoli and bronchioles. Unfortunately, lung cancer often goes for extended amounts of time unnoticed due to the symptoms taking a long period of time to present. It usually is not until a patient is being seen for another reason that lung cancers are detected. Lung cancer remains among the leading causes of death due to cancer in both men and women in the United States.  It claims more lives than prostate, colon, lymph, and breast cancers combined. This is mainly due to the rate at which lung cancer metastasizes, or spreads.

Another form of cancer that also exhibits a long latency period is mesothelioma. Mesothelioma research strongly indicates that it is caused by asbestos inhalation. Exposure to asbestos has also been listed as a causation of lung cancer and other non-cancerous illnesses such as asbestosis.

Different types of NSCLC vary under a microscope, just as NSCLC and SCLC appear varied. Because of the variation in the cells NSCLC has been subdivided into four main subsets:

  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma- This is the most common type of NSCLC, forming in the lining of the bronchial tubes. Overall, it is the most common type of lung cancer exhibited in men. It can also be referred to as epidermoid carcinoma.
  • Adenocarcinoma- Commonly found among woman and people that have not smoked, this cancer is located in the glands of the lungs that are responsible for producing mucus.
  • Bronchioalveolar Carcinoma- This is a more rare form of cancer and is a subset of adenocarcinoma. This subset generally forms near the lung’s air sacs. It is listed by as the type of NSCLC most likely to respond to newer targeted therapies.
  • Large-cell undifferentiated carcinoma- A rapidly growing cancer that usually forms near the surface or outer edges of the lungs.

Along with these, there are other, less common variations of NSCLC including: pleomorphic, carcinoid tumor, salivary gland carcinoma, and unclassified carcinoma.
Asbestos-induced lung cancer can take years, even decades to present symptoms. Mesothelioma caused by asbestos is similar, with symptoms exhibiting latency periods of anywhere from 20 to 50 years. A consultation with a physician or specialist can lead to a proper diagnosis, as well as further details concerning specific treatment options and prognosis.



Mayo Clinic

National Cancer Institute