Can you explain the different types of lung cancer to me?

There are two major types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.

The types are named for how the cells look under a microscope. It is important to distinguish between the two types because the cancers act differently and are treated differently.

According to the National Cancer Institute, about 13 percent of lung cancers are small cell lung cancers. This type tends to spread quickly and is usually only seen in heavy smokers.

Small cell lung cancer begins in the nerve cells or hormone-producing cells of the lung. People with limited stage small cell lung cancer usually have radiation therapy and chemotherapy. For a very small lung tumor, a person may have surgery and chemotherapy. Most people with late-stage small cell lung cancer are treated with chemotherapy only.

Most lung cancers (about 87 percent) are non-small cell lung cancers. Non-small cell lung cancer grows from the epithelial cells in the lungs. This type usually spreads more slowly than small cell lung cancer and is seen in smokers and non-smokers alike.

Nonsmall cell lung cancer actually refers to several types of lung cancers that act similarly, such as squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma.

People with non-small cell lung cancer may have surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of treatments. The treatment choices are different for each stage. Some people with advanced cancer receive targeted therapy.

The Shine A Light on Lung Cancer vigil serves to give hope, support and compassion to those impacted by lung cancer and those at risk, as well as loved ones and the community at large. Cancer Services will be hosting the local vigil at their offices on Nov. 19 at 6 p.m.

Anyone in the community is welcome to attend. In continued recognition of November as National Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Cancer Services will also be hosting a survivorship luncheon in partnership with Our Lady of the Lake, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, on Friday, Nov. 21 at noon. Survivors are asked to RSVP to the luncheon.

ä Internet Resources:

What you Need to Know about Lung Cancer – NCI: cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/lung

Lung Cancer Alliance – Shine a Light on Lung Cancer: lungcanceralliance.org/shine-a-light-on-lung-cancer.html