Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a malignant tumor that develops in the lungs. There are two main types of lung cancer: Non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer. There are three subtypes of NSCLC: Squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma. Non-small cell lung cancer affects more men than women, and is more likely to be diagnosed in people over the age of 60 years.

Symptoms of NSCLC may include one or more of the following:

  • New cough or any changes in chronic (“smoker’s”) cough
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Hoarseness or voice change
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Wheezing

Non-small cell lung cancer is highly associated with smoking and the inhaling of carcinogens found in tobacco, either by active use or through secondhand smoke. Related risks may include exposure to radon, asbestos, and other carcinogens, such uranium, arsenic, coal products, mustard gas, and diesel exhaust. Other suggested risk factors include air pollution, a family or personal history of lung cancer, a personal history of HIV/AIDS, and previous radiation therapy. Non-small cell lung cancer is serious, but early detection when the disease is at an early stage may lead to curability. Even when not curable, treatment and supportive care can help improve symptoms and prolong survival.

Treatment options for NSCLC typically depend on the subtype and stage, but may include one or more of the following:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Therapy with targeted agents