Lung Cancer Home > Types of Lung Cancer

There are two main lung cancer types, non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is more common and spreads more slowly than small cell lung cancer. Mesothelioma is not a form of lung cancer.

Types of Lung Cancer: An Overview

There are two major types of lung cancer -- non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Each type looks different under a microscope, grows and spreads in different ways, and is treated differently.
Cancer from other areas of the body can also spread to the lungs; however, such cases of the disease are not the same as lung cancer.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer is more common than small cell lung cancer, and it generally grows and spreads more slowly. There are three main types of non-small cell lung cancer. They are named for the type of cells in which the cancer develops:
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of lung cancer that begins in squamous cells, which are thin, flat cells that look like fish scales. This form of lung cancer is also known as epidermoid carcinoma.
Adenocarcinoma is a form of lung cancer that begins in the cells that line the alveoli and make substances such as mucus.
Large Cell Carcinoma
Large cell carcinoma is a cancer that may begin in several types of large cells.
Other Types of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Less common types of non-small cell lung cancer include:
  • Pleomorphic
  • Carcinoid tumor
  • Salivary gland carcinoma
  • Unclassified carcinoma.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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