What is Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer?

non-small cell lung cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer is a type of cancer in the lungs or airways. The majority of lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancer. Lung cancer mostly affects people that smoke or are exposed to air pollution. Most people with non-small cell lung cancer are diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 70. Lung cancer typically develops slowly and symptoms often come on gradually. Typical symptoms include cough, chest pain, and breathing difficulties. Treatment of lung cancer depends on the size of cancer and whether cancer has spread.


The main cause and risk factor for lung cancer is smoking, whether a person is a smoker themselves, or if they breathe in the cigarette smoke of other people (passive smoking). Asbestos exposure can also cause non-small cell lung cancer. Other occupational fumes cause lung cancer, but these are less common. These include radiotherapy, vinyl chloride, nickel, among others. Non-small cell lung cancer is rare in younger people, and most people are diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 70.


Typical symptoms of non-small cell lung cancer include cough or coughing up blood, chest pain, wheezing, and breathing difficulties. Other general symptoms of cancer are weight loss, loss of appetite, and fatigue. Symptoms tend to come on gradually.


Although a doctor may suspect lung cancer from the symptoms and physical examination, the best tools to diagnose lung cancer are a computed tomography scan (CT scan) and taking a sample of cancer (a biopsy) to test for the specific type of cancer. Imaging helps to find out if cancer has spread outside of the lungs.


Treatment of non-small lung cancer depends on the size of cancer, the exact type of cancer, and whether cancer has spread. The combination of these factors decides the stage of cancer. Depending on the stage, non-small cell lung cancer can be treated by radiotherapy, surgery, and chemotherapy, or a combination of therapies. The treating doctor can give the best advice as to treatment.

Other names for non-small cell lung cancer

  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Non-small lung cancer

**Q: What is Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)?**

**A:** Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer ⁤(NSCLC) is the most common type ⁤of lung cancer, accounting for about 80-85% of cases. It is a cancer that originates in the lungs’ non-small​ cell tissues.

**Q: What⁤ are the ‌different types of NSCLC?**

**A:** The main types of NSCLC are:

* **Adenocarcinoma:** The most common​ type, ‌which ⁤arises from the‍ cells that produce mucus.

* **Squamous Cell Carcinoma:** Develops from the​ flat cells lining the bronchial​ tubes.

* **Large Cell Carcinoma:**‌ A less common type with large, round-shaped cells.

**Q: What are⁢ the risk factors for NSCLC?**

**A:** Major risk factors include:

* **Smoking:** The primary cause, either current or former smoking habit.

* **Secondhand smoke exposure**

* **Family history of lung cancer**

* **Exposure to radon gas**

*⁣ **Certain occupational exposures** (e.g., asbestos,⁤ silica)

**Q: What are ⁣the symptoms⁤ of ⁤NSCLC?**

**A:** ​Symptoms can vary depending on the stage and location of the‌ cancer. Common symptoms include:

* Chronic cough or worsening⁢ cough

* Chest pain or discomfort

* Shortness of breath

* Wheezing

* Bloody or blood-tinged sputum

* ⁤Weight loss or‌ fatigue

* Fatigue

*‌ Hoarseness

**Q: How is NSCLC⁣ diagnosed?**

**A:** ⁣Diagnosis involves a combination of:

* **Imaging tests (chest X-ray, CT scan)**

* **Biopsy** to obtain ⁣tissue samples for analysis

* **Additional tests** (e.g., bloodwork, lung function‍ tests) to determine the⁢ stage‍ and treatment options

**Q: How is NSCLC ⁤treated?**

**A:** Treatment depends on various factors, including the stage, type, and overall ⁣health of the patient. Options include:

* **Surgery:**​ To remove the tumor

* **Radiation therapy:** Using high-energy ⁣beams to destroy cancer cells

* **Chemotherapy:** Administering drugs to kill cancer cells

* **Targeted therapy:** Medications ​that target‍ specific proteins or ⁢molecules involved in cancer ⁣growth

* **Immunotherapy:** Enhancing the body’s immune system to fight cancer

**Q: What is the prognosis for NSCLC?**

**A:** The prognosis varies depending on factors like the stage of‍ diagnosis, type of NSCLC, and overall patient health. **Early detection ⁢and ‍treatment improve the chances of a successful outcome.**

**Q: How can I prevent NSCLC?**

**A:** While not always avoidable, reducing risk involves:

* ⁤**Quitting smoking**

*⁢ **Avoiding secondhand smoke**

* **Installing radon ⁢detectors in your home**

* **Using proper ‍safety⁣ gear at work**

* **Maintaining a⁣ healthy weight and diet**

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