Effect of Small cell & Non-Small cell of lung cancer

In this article I’m going to discuss about the major points of lung cancer. Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells in the tissues of lung [1], it is also sometimes known as carcinoma of the lung [2]. According to research statistics, it is one of the leading causes of death in individuals suffering from cancer [3]. It is the leading cause of death in men with cancer, and is only second to breast cancer when it comes to women [4].

Lung cancer. Computer illustration showing a cancerous tumour in the lung and a close-up view of lung cancer cells.


There are two basic types of lung cancers. Small Cell Carcinoma and Non-Small Cell Carcinoma. Both of them are defined as under.


Among all the cases of lung cancer; small cell carcinoma is present in only 15% of the cases. This is also known as Oat Cell Carcinoma due to the fact that these cancerous cells appear like an oat grain when viewed under the microscope. These cells divide and spread rapidly and metastasis (spreading of cancerous cells to other tissues and organs of the body) is faster in small cell carcinoma.

In addition, they are common in male gender and smoking adds to the risk factor of developing this type of carcinoma. Patients with small cell carcinoma has a very poor prognosis.


Small cell carcinoma may develop rapidly and prompt treatment is required for to remove the malignant cells. The treatment methods may include surgical excision of the cancerous cells, radio-therapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy depending upon the staging and metastasis of cancer.


It is a more common form of lung cancer comprising about 85 percent of cases. It grows slowly and has a better prognosis as compared to small cell carcinoma. Therefore the rate of metastasis is also slower as compared to the other type of lung cancer.

However, it devided to 4 more cancer subtypes. Following are them.


It is the most common form of small cell carcinoma, comprising of 40 percent of all the cases. It is also the most common tumor in female and among non-smoker males.

While observing on microscope, these malignant cells resemble glandular pattern which is a key feature to distinguish it from other types of lung cancer


The prevalence of this type is about 20 percent. This is the most common type of cancer in male smokers.

While observing under microscope, the cells have a keratin pearl like appearance which is diagnostic in identification of this type of cancer.


This type of malignant lung cancer has the worst prognosis. They cells in this type of carcinoma are undifferentiated and the microscopic picture tend to be very confusing resulting in delay in diagnosis. These cells also tend to grow fast and metastasize quickly. However, only 10 percent smokers having lung cancer have large cell carcinoma.


They are present in only 5 percent of patients of lung cancer. They may be located centrally or in the periphery. However, when they are located centrally, the cancerous cells appear to form polypoid mass in the bronchus.

After that, we can move to the signs and symptoms of the lung cancer.


Many signs and symptoms are prominent in lung cancer; however they greatly depend upon the distribution of cancer, type of cancer, the size and location of cancerous cell. Above all mong them the most common symptoms are [5]

  • Hemoptysis (Coughing up blood) and coughing
  • Shortness of breath and wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Weightless, fever and weakness
  • The laryngeal nerve may be compressed resulting in hoarseness of voice
  • Super Venacava can be obstructed leading to distended veins of head and neck with edema and blue discoloration of arms and face (superioi vena caval syndrome)


  1. NCI. 12 May 2015. Archived from the original on 29 February 2016. Retrieved 5 March2016.
  2. Merck Manual Professional Edition, Online edition. Archived from the original on 16 August 2007. Retrieved 15 August 2007.
  3. Siegel R, Ma J, Zou Z, Jemal A (2014) Cancer statistics, 2014. CA Cancer J Clin 64(1):9–29. doi: 10.3322/caac.21208
  4. Ferlay  J,  Soerjomataram  I,  Ervik  M,  Dikshit  R,  Eser  S,  Mathers  C,  Rebelo  M,  Parkin  D, Forman D, Bray F (2013) GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, cancer incidence and mortality worldwide: IARC cancerbase No. 11 [Internet]. International Agency for Research on Cancer. http://globocan.iarc.fr . Accessed 12 Dec 2013
  5. Horn L, Lovly CM (2018). “Chapter 74: Neoplasms of the lung”. In Jameson JL, Fauci AS, Kasper DL, Hauser SL, Longo DL, Loscalzo J (eds.). Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine (20th ed.). McGraw-Hill.


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