Lung Cancer Home > Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer is one of the two general types of lung cancer (the other is small cell lung cancer). It is much more common than small cell lung cancer, and it generally grows and spreads more slowly. There are several types of this disease, each with different kinds of cancer cells that grow and spread in different ways.

What Is Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer?

Lung cancers are diseases in which the growth of malignant (cancer) cells begins in the tissues of the lung. Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, with a five-year survival rate of only 15 percent.
 
There are two general types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is much more common than small cell lung cancer. Also, non-small cell lung cancer spreads more slowly than small cell lung cancer.
 

Understanding the Lungs

The lungs are a pair of cone-shaped breathing organs that are found within the chest. The lungs bring oxygen into the body when breathing in and remove carbon dioxide when breathing out.
 
Each lung has sections called lobes. The left lung has two lobes. The right lung, which is slightly larger, has three. A thin membrane called the pleura surrounds the lungs.
 
Two tubes called bronchi lead from the trachea (windpipe) to the right and left lungs. The bronchi are sometimes also involved in lung cancer. Small tubes called bronchioles and tiny air sacs called alveoli make up the inside of the lungs.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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