There are two main types of asbestos lung cancer: small-cell (SCLC) and non-small cell (NSCLC).
Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common, accounting for 80% of all cases. It is also less aggressive, with more treatment options and a better prognosis. Around 17% of people diagnosed with NSCLC live 5 years or longer. There are three main subtypes of NSCLC, which are distinguished by the chemical makeup and appearance of their cells:
- Adenocarcinoma– Forms in the glandular tissues that line the outer part of your lungs. This type of non-small cell lung cancer is more common in women, and is the primary type of lung cancer among non-smokers.
- Squamous cell (epidermoid) carcinoma – This is the most common overall type of NSCLC. It forms in the flat cells that line the airways inside of your lungs. This is the predominant type of non-small cell lung cancer in men.
- Large cell (undifferentiated) carcinoma – This type of non-small cell lung cancer can appear in any part of the lung, and spreads more rapidly than other varieties. It accounts for 10-15% of all lung cancer cases.
Small cell lung cancer makes up the remaining 20% of all lung cancer cases. It is more aggressive and difficult to treat, with a shorter life expectancy. Only 6% of people with small cell lung cancer live 5 years or longer. There are three main forms of SCLC:
- Small cell carcinoma (oat cell cancer)
- Combined small cell carcinoma
- Mixed small cell / large cell carcinoma
Most SCLC cases are the oat cell type. Although these cancer cells are smaller in size compared to NSCLC cells, they grow more quickly and can produce large tumors. Surgery is rarely a treatment option with SCLC because of how rapidly it can spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones, lymph nodes, adrenal glands, brain, and liver. Doctors mainly rely upon chemotherapy to treat small cell lung cancer.
If you have further questions about asbestos lung cancer, please contact The Law Office of Brown | Kiely, LLP today or call (410) 625-9330 to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our experienced Baltimore asbestos attorneys. We represent asbestos victims throughout Maryland and Washington D.C.