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Types of Lung Cancer and Staging

Types of LC

Lung cancer arises from in the lung that have grown abnormally and multiplied to form a lump or tumor. Non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a type of lung cancer, which is different from small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) because of the way the tumor cells look under a microscope. About 15% of lung cancers are small cell lung cancer (SCLC), while about 85% are non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

There are three major types of non-small cell lung cancer:

  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Squamous cell lung cancer (also called epidermoid carcinoma)
  • Large cell lung cancer

Less common types of lung cancer include pleomorphic, carcinoid tumor, salivary gland carcinoma, and unclassified carcinoma.

Staging

Complex tests may be used to diagnose lung cancer and determine whether it has spread to other parts of the body. Some can also help to decide which treatments might work best for the patient. The steps and tests used in diagnosing lung cancer include medical history, imaging tests, laboratory tests, biopsies and biomarker tests.

The stage of your lung cancer is one of the factors that will help your healthcare professionals to decide on the best kind of treatment to offer you. Cancer is staged using a number system – described as stages I-IV.

The classification system is based on tumor size, how much it has spread into your lymph nodes/glands, and whether there is another tumor in your body that the doctor thinks is related to the main tumor in your lung (metastasis). This staging process is sometimes referred to as TNM (tumor, node and metastasis).

Stage IA
The tumor is no larger than 3cm, is still inside the lung and has not spread to any of the nearby lymph nodes
Early-stage

Stage IB 
The tumor is 3-5cm in size, is still inside the lung and has not spread to any of the nearby lymph nodes 
 

Stage IIA 
The tumor is 5-7cm in size, is still inside the lung and has not spread to any of the nearby lymph nodes; or
 

The tumor is no larger than 5 cm, has spread to nearby lymph nodes but is not in any other part of the body
 

Stage IIB
The tumor is 5-7cm in size, has spread to nearby lymph nodes but is not in any other part of the body; or
 

The tumor is larger than 7cm or there is more than one tumor in the same lobe; it has not spread to nearby lymph nodes but may invade other parts of the lung, the airway or the surrounding areas just outside the lung, e.g. the diaphragm
 


Stage IIIA
The tumor is no larger than 7 cm, has spread to nearby lymph nodes but is not in any other part of the body; or
Locally advanced
The tumor is larger than 7cm or there is more than one tumor in the same lobe; it has spread to nearby lymph nodes and may invade other parts of the lung, the airway or the surrounding areas just outside the lung, e.g. the diaphragm; or
The tumor is of any size and invades tissues and structures further away from the lung, such as the heart, windpipe or oesophagus, but it has not spread to other parts of the body; or there is more than one tumor in different lobes of the same lung. The cancer may or may not have spread to nearby lymph nodes
Stage IIIB
The tumor is of any size and invades tissues and structures further away from the lung, such as the heart, windpipe or oesophagus, but it has not spread to other parts of the body; or there is more than one tumor in different lobes of the same lung; the cancer has also spread to nearby lymph nodes; or
The tumor is of any size and may or may not invade tissues and structures further away from the lung, such as the heart, windpipe or oesophagus; or there is more than one tumor in different lobes of the same lung; the cancer has spread to more lymph nodes, but not to other parts of the body

Stage IV
The tumor is of any size and may or may not have spread to the lymph nodes. The cancer is in both lungs, has spread to another part of the body (e.g. the liver, adrenal glands, brain or bones) or it has caused a collection of fluid around the lung or heart that contains cancer cells. Metastases are present either at diagnosis (in nearly 40% of patients) or they are discovered during follow-up tests of previously treated NSCLC
Metastatic
NEXT: Diagnostics and Molecular Testing