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Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer

What Is Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer?

Cancers are diseases in which normal cells transform so that they grow and multiply without normal controls. In many types of cancer, this results in the growth of one or more large masses, or tumors, of these transformed cells. Such transformed cells are said to have become malignant and are then called cancer cells. This can happen in almost any part of the body. When cancer starts in the cells normally found in the lungs, the disease is called lung cancer.

Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer and is the leading cause of death from cancer in men and in women. This is because the lungs are exposed to the external environment more than most other organs are. In many cases, cancer-causing substances (carcinogens) in the air are inhaled and cause cell damage that later becomes cancer. The most common cause of lung cancer, by far, is smoking.

The two main types of lung cancer are small-cell lung cancer and non-small-cell lung cancer. Non-small-cell lung cancer is a catchall term for all lung cancers that are the not small-cell type. They are grouped together because the treatment is often the same for all non-small-cell types. Together, non-small-cell lung cancers, or NSCLCs, make up a majority of lung cancers. Each type is named for the types of cells that were transformed to become cancer. The following are the most common types of NSCLC in the United States:

Like all cancers, lung cancer is most easily and successfully treated if it is caught early. An early stage cancer is less likely to have grown to a large size or to have spread to other parts of the body (metastasized). Large or metastasized cancers are much more difficult to treat successfully. Lung cancer can advance in severity, and these advancement measures are termed stages. Stages range from I to IV, with stage IV as being the most severe stage (see staging of lung cancers below).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/8/2016

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The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer:

Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer - Treatment

What treatment did you receive for non-small-cell lung cancer?

Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer - When to Seek Medical Care

What symptoms led you to see a doctor for your non-small-cell lung cancer?

Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer Symptom


If a cough is a warning sign of an underlying cancer, the person may have a group of symptoms. If lung cancer or a cancer of the air passages is present, the person may cough up blood. Other signs and symptoms that may warn of a cancer include worsening fatigue, loss of appetite, unexplained loss of weight, or decreased ability to swallow solid or liquid foods.

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