There are several types of lung cancer, distinguished by the appearance under the microscope. The two main types are non small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. The sub type of small cell lung cancer is important to recognise separately as the as the management of this condition differs from its more common counterpart, non small cell lung cancer.
Non small cell lung cancer consists of different sub types including squamous call carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, a combination of adeno and squamous carcinoma, large cell carcinoma. There are rare types of primary lung cancer including giant cell carcinoma and bronchial alveolar lung cell carcinoma.
Many cancers arising from other organs of the body can spread to the lung (lung metastases) and it is important to differentiate these from a primary lung cancer which has arisen from within the lung as the management would be dictated by organ from which they have arisen.