If you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer, you’ll quickly realize how much lies below the surface of that simplistic title. Today, let’s look at the four most common types of lung cancer and how doctors tend to handle each of them.
4 Most Common Types of Lung Cancer
#1. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
The most common type of lung cancer divides into three smaller categories based on placement and characteristics.
- Large cell carcinomas have over-sized and oddly-shaped cells. They can rapidly develop and grow anywhere in the lungs.
- Squamous cell carcinomas usually crop up centrally in the lungs, near the bronchi.
- Adenocarcinomas sprout on the outside of the lungs. They’re also the most common type of lung cancer that appears in non-smokers.
If the disease has not spread outside the lung, a surgeon can remove any appearance of non-small cell lung cancer. For more advanced cases, they may implement chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
#2. Small Cell Lung Cancer
This category covers what most people think of — cancer due to smoking cigarettes. It divides further into oat cell cancer (affecting mainly oat cells) and combined small cell carcinoma.
Surgery isn’t usually an option for small cell lung cancer because the tumors spread rapidly to the rest of the body. Usually, your doctor will recommend chemotherapy, so you have medication circulating through your whole system alongside radiation to target cancerous cells.
#3. Lung Nodules
Nodules are masses of tissues that can appear when you get a medical test, even one unrelated. They aren’t necessarily dangerous; they can be benign, precancerous, or metastatic spread from elsewhere in the body.
You don’t need any treatment for a nodule if it turns out to be benign, but your practitioners will keep an eye on the nodule’s size and determine if they need to investigate further. If it turns out to be cancerous, they’ll revert to one of the other treatments mentioned above.
Pleural mesothelioma is rarer than the other three but still comprises around 5% of lung cancer cases. It’s most common in older people since it takes 30-50 years to develop and usually can trace its origin to exposure to asbestos particles.
Any combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy could help treat mesothelioma. Treatments are still in development, which means your case could help doctors treat similar patients in the future if you employ an experimental therapy.
As with any cancer, stay in close communication with your healthcare practitioners, and make sure that you take care of your health as best you can while treating the disease.
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