What is lung cancer?
- There are two main types of primary lung cancer – small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.
- Small cell lung cancer is usually caused by cancer; it is rare for someone who has never smoked to develop this type of lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer is fast-growing and can spread quickly.
- Non-small cell lung cancer involves three main types. It is not always possible to identify which type someone has because when the cells are looked under a microscope, they are not developed enough or the biopsy does not contain enough cells. For this reason, it can become difficult to diagnose the different types of non-small cell lung cancer.
The three main types of non-small cell lung cancer are:
Squamous cell carcinoma – The most common type of lung cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma develops in the cells that line the airways. It is often caused by smoking.
Adenocarcinoma – This develops from the cells that produce mucus in the lining of the airways. Adenocarcinoma is becoming more common.
Large Cell Carcinoma – The name of this cancer originates from the large, rounded cells that are seen when they are examined under a microscope. It can also be known as undifferentiated carcinoma.
- A less common type of cancer that can affect the pleura, the covering of the lungs, is called mesothelioma. This is a cancer of the membrane that covers the surface of the lungs and lines the inside of the chest.
Symptoms of lung cancer
- A continuing cough or a change in a long-standing cough
- A chest infection that does not improve
- Breathlessness and/or wheezing
- Coughing up blood-stain phlegm
- Chest or shoulder pain
- A hoarse voice
- A sharp pain when coughing or taking a deep breath
- Loss of appetite and loss of weight
- Difficulty swallowing
- Swelling of the lymph nodes (glands) in the neck area