Lung Cancer Home > Types of Lung Cancer

Small Cell Lung Cancer

Small cell lung cancer (sometimes called oat cell cancer) is less common than non-small cell lung cancer. This lung cancer type grows more quickly and is more likely to spread to other organs in the body.
There are three types of small cell lung cancer. The types of small cell lung cancer are named for the kinds of cells found in the cancer and how the cells look when viewed under a microscope:
  • Small cell carcinoma (oat cell cancer)
  • Mixed small cell/large cell carcinoma
  • Combined small cell carcinoma.

Metastatic Cancer in the Lungs

Metastasis means the spread of cancer. Cancer cells can break away from a primary tumor and enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system (the system that produces, stores, and carries the cells that fight infections). That is how cancer cells spread to other parts of the body.
When cancer cells spread and form a new tumor in a different organ, the new tumor is a metastatic tumor. The cells in the metastatic tumor come from the original tumor. This means, for example, that if breast cancer spreads to the lungs, the metastatic tumor in the lung is made up of cancerous breast cells (not lung cells). In this case, the disease in the lungs is metastatic breast cancer (not lung cancer). Under a microscope, metastatic breast cancer cells generally look the same as the cancer cells in the breast. The lungs are one of the most common places to which cancer from other parts the body spreads.

Is Mesothelioma a Type of Lung Cancer?

Mesothelioma is not a lung cancer type. It is a tumor affecting the lining of the lungs or abdomen. Mesothelioma can either be benign (meaning not cancerous) or malignant (cancer). Exposure to asbestos particles in the air increases the risk of developing malignant mesothelioma.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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