Understanding Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer. About 80 percent to 85 percent of all lung cancers are of this type.

Types of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

There are three main subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer:

  • Adenocarcinoma. Starts in the cells that normally secrete substances like mucus. It mainly occurs in smokers and former smokers, although it is also the most common type of lung cancer seen in non-smokers. It is usually found in the outer parts of the lung and is more likely to be diagnosed before it has spread.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma. Starts in the flat cells (squamous cells) that line the inside of the airways in the lungs. They are often seen in patients who have a history of smoking and are usually found near the main airway in the central part of the lungs.
  • Large cell carcinoma. Can be found in any part of the lung. It tends to grow and spread quickly, which makes it hard to diagnose and treat in its early stages.

Learn more about non-small cell lung cancer causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Why Choose Us for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment

Together with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, we have the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, meeting the highest standards in cancer research, treatment, prevention and education in the nation. We offer the most advanced treatment options, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy and access to clinical trials, many of which are not available elsewhere.

Logos of The Rutgers Cancer Center of New Jersey-Rutgers Health and NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center

New Jersey’s Largest Network of Cancer Specialists

We offer access to New Jersey’s largest network of cancer specialists, including nationally and internationally recognized hematologists/oncologists, radiation oncologists, advanced practice nurses and oncology support professionals with advanced credentials in cancer specialty care with expertise in lung and thoracic cancers.

Our Oncology Nurse Navigators Will Guide You Through Your Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Journey

Oncology nurse navigators help secure appointments, coordinate follow-up visits related to treatments and procedures and guide you through aspects of survivorship.

To schedule an appointment with one of New Jersey’s best lung and thoracic cancer specialists, call 844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Symptoms

Non-small cell lung cancer symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain, if a tumor spreads to the lung lining or other parts of the body near the lungs
  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing up phlegm or mucus
  • Coughing up blood
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Hoarseness

Talk to your doctor if you experience any non-small cell lung cancer symptoms. They will be able to analyze them and determine what tests need to be performed to potentially diagnose or rule out cancer.

In some cases, patients may not experience any non-small cell lung cancer symptoms. Cancer may be noticed on an imaging test performed for other reasons, such as a chest X-ray or CT scan checking for heart disease.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment

Non-small cell lung cancer treatment requires a multidisciplinary approach. This means different types of doctors work together to create the patient’s treatment plan. There are five main non-small cell lung cancer treatment options:

  • Surgery. Used to completely remove the tumor and nearby lymph nodes in the chest.
  • Radiation therapy. High-energy X-rays or other particles are used to kill cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy. Drugs are used to destroy cancer cells.
  • Targeted therapy. Blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy. Boosts the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer.

Non-small cell lung cancer treatment options are chosen based on the type and stage of cancer, potential side effects of treatment, the patient's personal preferences and overall health.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Prognosis

The 5-year survival rate for non-small cell lung cancer is 26 percent, compared to 7 percent for small cell lung cancer. It is important to note that survival rates and non-small cell lung cancer life expectancy depend on several factors, including the lung cancer subtype and the disease stage.

To schedule an appointment with one of New Jersey’s best lung and thoracic cancer specialists, call 844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

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