Types of Lung Cancer
There are many specific types of lung cancer based on what type of cell the cancer starts in. The most common lung cancer is non-small cell lung cancer. It starts in the epithelial cells that line different areas of your lungs. There are three main types of non-small cell lung cancer:
- Adenocarcinoma, which begins in the alveoli
- Squamous cell carcinoma that starts in the bronchial tubes
- Large cell carcinoma which starts in other epithelial cells in the lung
Small cell lung cancer is rarer, but also more aggressive cancer. It can also be called oat cell cancer and occurs in other tissues of the lungs.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the pleura around the lungs. It is strongly associated with exposure to asbestos, a substance that was used as insulation in building in the past. Some professions, like firefighting or shipbuilding, may put you at risk of inhaling asbestos and developing this form of cancer.
Lung Cancer Symptoms
Lung cancer can be a very aggressive, but largely quiet disease initially. It typically does not have any early warning signs or symptoms until the cancer advances. Some symptoms, like coughing up blood, are a clear warning sign that something is not normal. But other symptoms, such as feeling tired or a lingering cough, may be dismissed, ignored, or attributed to other conditions such as the flu or a cold.
Lung cancer might not cause symptoms in early stages, but symptoms can grow worse as lung cancer grows. You should tell your doctor about symptoms such as:
- Becoming short of breath faster than usual
- Constant chest pain
- Cough that gets worse or won’t go away
- Coughing up blood
- Frequent lung infections, such as pneumonia
- Shortness of breath
- Unexplained weight loss
Lung Cancer Risk Factors
Your lifestyle, family history and your environment can all impact your lung cancer risk. Some of the biggest risk factors include:
- Age older than 65
- Exposure to radon, asbestos or air pollution
- Family history of lung cancer, even if you don’t smoke
- Lung disease like emphysema, tuberculosis and COPD
- Personal history of esophageal, head and neck cancer or lung cancer
- Smoking, having a history of smoking or frequent exposure to cigarette smoke
If you do develop lung cancer, the experts at Ellis Medicine and Roswell Park can work together to create a treatment plan that’s right for you. We offer clinical trials, immunotherapy and other advanced treatments for even the most advanced or complex lung cancers.