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Lung Cancer - Types and Stages

There are two main types of lung cancer - NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer) and SCLC (small cell lung cancer). Stages of lung cancer are based upon whether the tumour is localised or has spread from lungs to lymph nodes and other organs.

Since, lungs are large organs; tumours get the opportunity to grow in them for a long period of time before they get detected. Even when symptoms begin to appear like coughing, fatigue or pain, people tend to overlook them. Therefore, stages I and II (early stage lung cancer) is difficult to get detected. Hence, mostly people with lung cancer are diagnosed at later stages (stages III and IV).

Lung Cancer - Types and Stages

Types of Lung Cancer

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

This type of cancer accounts for about 85 % of lung cancer cases. There are various types of this type of tumor:

  • Adenocarcinoma - Commonest type of lung cancer in both men and women
  • Squamous cell carcinoma - This forms in the lining of the bronchial tubes
  • Large cell carcinomas - Cancers that are neither epidermoid cancers nor adenocarcinomas

Stages of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Stage I : When the cancer is located only in the lungs and has not yet spread to lymph nodes or adjoining tissue

Stage II : The cancer has spread to the lung and nearby lymph nodes

Stage III : The cancer spreads in the lung and reaches lymph nodes in the middle of the chest, also known as locally advanced disease. Stage III has two subtypes - stage III A & stage III B.

Stage IV : This is the advanced or final stage of lung cancer, when the cancer spreads to both lungs, into the fluid found in pleura or to other parts of the body such as the liver or other organs.

Small Cell Lung Cancer

This type of cancer accounts for the remaining 15 % of lung cancers. This type usually results from smoking and grows & spreads more rapidly to other parts of the body than non-small cell lung cancer. Thankfully, it is also more responsive to chemotherapy.

Stages of Small Cell Lung Cancer

There are 2 stages of this type of cancer.

Limited stage : Cancer is found only on one side of the chest, involving only one part of the lung and some nearby lymph nodes.

Extensive stage : Cancer spreads to other regions of the chest or other parts of the body.

Early detection of lung cancer plays a vital role in effective treatment of the disease. Staying away from risk factors such as smoking and tobacco usage and getting regular medical checkups is the key to catching the diseases in initial stages.

To live healthy & happy, one must keep a check on the body’s functioning by going for regular health checkups. This helps in assessing risk factors and diagnosing diseases at an early stage, which will result in effective treatment and better management of the condition.


Know your complete health status by full body checkup packages designed and facilitated by Indus Health Plus, the preventive checkup specialist.


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