of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the most common cancer in the world and is the leading cause of cancer death, with 160,000 deaths in the U.S. annually. While there are more than a dozen different kinds of lung cancer there are two main types; non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC), which together account for over 90% of all lung cancers. Malignant mesothelioma is a rare cancer that develops in the tissues that comprise the lining of the lung. Non-small cell lung cancer accounts for approximately 75% of these cancers and consists of squamous cell, adenocarcinoma and large cell types. Small cell lung cancer represents 20-25% of all lung cancers and is also referred to as “oat cell cancer”

Lung cancer is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or both of the lungs. The majority of lung cancers begin in the bronchial tubes that conduct air in and out of the lungs. Cancers of the lung are classified by how they appear under a microscope.

Precision cancer treatments have emerged and are improving the treatment of lung cancer.  Precision cancer medicine utilizes molecular diagnostic and genomic testing, including DNA sequencing, to identify cancer-driving abnormalities in a cancer’s genome. Once a genetic abnormality is identified, a specific targeted therapy can be designed to attack a specific mutation or other cancer-related change in the DNA programming of the cancer cells. Precision cancer medicine uses targeted drugs and immunotherapies engineered to directly attack the cancer cells with specific abnormalities, leaving normal cells largely unharmed.  As a result, patients with lung cancer now typically receive molecular testing that guides their physicians in determining which therapies are more likely to boost the chances of survival while limiting the potential for adverse effects.

Next: Symptoms of Lung Cancer


American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2017.