Lung Cancer

What is lung cancer?

Lung cancer starts from different types of cells in the lungs, which serve to take in oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide as you breathe.

The two main types of primary lung cancer include:

  • Non-small cell lung cancer - an umbrella term for several types of lung cancers that behave in a similar way. Non-small cell lung cancers include squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma. These subtypes start from different types of lung cells but are grouped together because their treatment and outlook are often similar.
  • Small cell lung cancer - occurs almost exclusively in smokers and is less common than non-small cell lung cancer. This type of lung cancer tends to grow and spread more quickly than other types, and has usually already spread by the time it is diagnosed.

More information about lung cancers (American Cancer Society)

What lung cancer is not

Lung cancer should not be confused with other thoracic cancers and lung conditions such as esophageal cancer or mesothelioma because these cancers can have different symptoms, outlooks, and treatments. Other cancers that spread to the lung are also not included as lung cancer.


It’s possible that you could have one or more of the following tests (but not all of these will apply to your condition):

  • Imaging: computerized tomography (CT) scan, positron emission tomography (PET) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Biopsy
  • Meeting with your surgeon, medical oncologist and radiation oncologist to form a treatment plan


Depending on your unique set of conditions and how far the disease has spread, your treatment could include one or more of the following treatments (but not all of these will apply to your condition):

  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Clinical trial
  • Follow-up care including imaging, blood tests and physical exams

Your full team of care providers will work closely together to review your diagnostic tests, identify the best course of treatment particular to you, and help you understand your diagnosis and what to expect with any treatment you have.