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To categorize lung cancers visible Pathologic features on light microscopy, are used. Lung cancers are divided into two major groups, Small Cell Lung Cancer and Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

  1. Squamous cell (epidermoid forms in the lining of the bronchial tubes). Most common type of lung cancer in men. Decreasing incidence in last two decades.  Typically develops in segmental bronchi, causing bronchial obstruction and regional lymph node involvement. Symptoms are related to obstruction : nonproductive cough, pneumonia, atelectasis, that is, a collapsed lung, chest pain is a late symptom associated with bulky tumor, Pancoast Tumor, or pulmonary sulcus tumor, begins in the upper portion of the lung and commonly spreads to the ribs and spine causing classic shoulder pain that radiates down the ulnar nerve distribution. Treatment: surgical resection is preferred before the development of metastatic disease, chemotherapy and radiation therapy to decrease the incidence of recurrence.
  2. Adenocarcinoma. Most common form in Unites States, Increasing incidence in females. Occurs in non smokers. adenocarcinoma develops in the periphery of the lungs and frequently metastasizes to brain, bone, and liver. Symptoms: no symptoms with small peripheral lesions, Identifi ed by routine chest radiograph/CT scan. Treatment: surgical resection and chemotherapy and radiation therapy to decrease the incidence of recurrence.
  3. Bronchioalveolar (BAC). Form near the lung’s air sacs. BAC may have abnormal gene in their tumor cells. Targeted chemotherapy treatment appears to be effective.
  4. Large cell. Large cell: 10% of all lung cancer cases. Bulky peripheral tumor. Metastasizing to brain, bone, adrenal glands, or liver. Symptoms related to obstruction or metastatic spread pneumonitis and pleural effusions. Treatment: surgical resection (limited because of the often aggressive course of this tumor type) and chemotherapy and radiation therapy (palliative role to minimize symptoms of advanced disease).

Small-Cell Lung Cancer


Patients with SCLC often have widespread disease at the time of diagnosis. Rapid clinical deterioration in patients with chest masses often indicates SCLC

  1. Oat cell carcinoma Oat cell carcinoma: 13% of all lung cancers. Most aggressive type, greater tendency to metastasize than Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Strongly related to cigarette smoking often occurs within the mainstem bronchi and segmental bronchi; 80% of cases have hilar and mediastinal node involvement. Symptoms: Paraneoplastic syndrome: syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone (SIADH), Hyponatremia, fluid retention, weakness, and fatigue, Ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) production, Hypokalemia, hyponatremia, hyperglycemia, lethargy, and confusion. Treatment for Oat cell carcinoma, Surgery rarely indicated even in those with limited stage disease because of the need for immediate systemic therapy and chemotherapy and radiation therapy offers the best hope for prolonged survival and quality of life. Majority of the patients respond to chemotherapy and radiation therapy but recurrence rate is very high. Two-thirds of patients demonstrate evidence of extensive disease at the time of diagnosis.
  2. Non-Bronchogenic Carcinomas. Undifferentiated non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Non-bronchogenic carcinomas undifferientated non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) : <5% of all lung cancers combined: Mesothelioma a rare tumor of the parietal pleura, Mesothelioma is another rare type of cancer which affects the covering of the lung (the pleura). It is often caused by exposure to asbestos, bronchial adenoma (carcinoid), fibrosarcoma.

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