The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Last Modified: May 8, 2013
What is the difference between small cell and non-small cell lung cancer? Are they treated the same way? How do I know which one I have?
Charu Aggarwal, MD, MPH, Medical Oncologist at Penn Medicine, responds:
Small cell cancer of the lung is a subtype of lung cancer, which is different from non-small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is much more common and accounts for approximately 85% of all lung cancers. The two types can be distinguished based on the way they look under the microscope. They also behave differently and are treated with different modalities that can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and/or surgery. The best way to know which cancer you have is to ask your doctor and look at the pathology report.
This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Focus on Lung Cancer transcript.