Nonsmall Cell Lung Cancer

Carcinoma of the lung is the most common cause of death due to cancer in both men and women. Lung cancer can be divided into two fundamental types— small cell lung cancer (which is synonymous with oat cell lung cancer) and nonsmall cell lung carcinoma. The differentiation is clinically important as small cell lung carcinoma has a much lower survival rate than nonsmall cell carcinoma.

The histologic subtypes of nonsmall cell lung carcinoma include adenocarcinoma, large cell carcinoma and squamous carcinoma. There is another histologic subtype called bronchoalveolar carcinoma which is most likely a subtype of adenocarcinoma, but has a better prognosis overall. Adenocarcinoma of the lung is the most frequent histologic type, responsible for 50% of lung cancers. Squamous cell is the next most frequent cancer accounting for 30%, and small cell lung cancer represents 15%. Large cell cancer makes up less than 5%.

The rare primary malignant tumors include sarcomas (which may be parenchymal or endobronchial), or lymphoma (either Hodgkin's or nonHodgkin's). Only 0.3% of lymphomas actually originate in the lung.

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