By the term ‘Lung cancer’, it is clear- cancer in the lung. Depending on the disease's severity, lung cancer is categorized into different stages; Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, Stage 3A, Stage 3B, and Stage 4.


On the basis of types of cancer cells, lung cancer is categorized into two; Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and Small cell lung cancer (SCLC). As per the American Cancer Society, (80-85)% of the lung cancer cases are NSCLC, and the rest (10-15)% cases are SCLC type.


This article will cover some useful information about the two types of cancer cells; SCLC and NSCLC, starting with the statistics.


Is Small Cell Or Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer More Common?

Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer among humans(both men and women). Apart from this, prostate cancer is more common in men, and breast cancer is more common among women. 


According to the American Cancer Society’s estimation, the lung cancer in the United States for 2021 is about:-

  • 235,760 new cases of lung cancer were reported, of which 119,100 were men and 116,660 were women.
  • 131,880 deaths occur due to lung cancer, in which 69,410 were men, and 62,470 were women.

Among the statistics as mentioned earlier, 13% of all lung cancer are small cell lung cancer (SCLC), and 84% are Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).


Which Is More Aggressive SCLC Or Nsclc?

In people with small cell lung cancer(SCLC), cancerous cells appear small and round under a microscope whereas non-small cell lung cancer(NSCLC) appears to be large. Both SCLC and NSCLC cause similar symptoms but sometimes the symptoms may appear until cancer reaches greater stages.


The possible symptoms that appear as a result of both SCLC and NSCLC are as follows:-

  • Hoarse voice
  • Persistent cough
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath & wheezing
  • Difficulty while swallowing
  • A loss of appetite
  • Pain in chest and discount
  • Bloody mucus while coughing
  • Swelling in the veins of face and neck

Although the symptoms of both SCLC and NSCLC are similar but small cell cancer cells spread more rapidly than non-small cell lung cancer. The symptoms of lung cancer will appear more clearly when the disease reaches a later stage.


What Causes Non-Small Cell And Small Cell Lung Cancer?

The causes of non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer tend to be similar. Smoking is the major factor behind the cause of both SCLC and NSCLC. Its chemicals and the smoke lead to cellular changes that result in cancer. Additionally, other factors also contribute to such type of lung cancer, such as:-

  • Passive smoking
  • Living in an area with significant air pollution
  • Older age
  • Exposure of arsenic and other chemicals
  • Exposure to asbestos, nickel, chromium, soot, or tar
  • If you have a family history of lung cancer
  • HIV prevalence 

Smoking is the major risk factor for lung cancer, especially in the case of small cell lung cancer. Almost (5-10)% of the lung cancer cases are mixed- both SCLC and NSCLC. As per the researchers, it may be easier to treat mixed cases as compared to small cell lung cancer alone. 


How Is SCLC & NSCLC Diagnosed?

The diagnosis process of SCLC and NSCLC involves multiple common tests based on your medical history and occurring symptoms. In order to diagnose such lung cancer, the doctor will request you for some imaging tests, such as an X-ray, CT-scan, or look for a sign of a tumor, scarring, or buildup of fluid.


The doctor may also ask for samples of phlegm in order to perform a sputum test. This will help the doctor to know the presence of cancer cells. Depending on the result, the doctor may also ask for a sample every morning continuously for 3 days.


To get more precise information about cancer, the doctor may ask for a biopsy. In this process, a sample of the infected tissue is talked with the help of a needle to observe under a microscope. This can also be performed as a surgery.


Close monitoring of the cancer tissues will help to indicate whether cells are cancerous or not. If yes, then what type of cancer is it and every information related to it. In some cases, the doctor may request a bronchoscopy. In this procedure, a tool with an inbuilt camera is inserted into the lungs through the mouth or nose. This helps to clearly examine the infected area so that they may take a sample without any complications.


The above procedures are performed only to know about cancer. Further tests may also occur in order to know how widely the disease has spread and the severity.


What Is The Best Treatment For Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer?

After diagnosing cancer, the doctor will describe the treatment option and will develop a treatment plan accordingly based on the following factors, such as:-

  • The type of cancer
  • Age and overall health
  • Available therapies
  • Personal preferences

As every human being has their own potential and body function, the treatment will be suggested accordingly.


Non-small cell lung cancer:

Below is the list of treatment for non-small cell lung cancer:-


It is a procedure in which the doctor would like to remove the cancerous cells from the infected areas and the nearby lymph nodes. But this method is only applicable when the cancerous cells have not spread severely.



This is a procedure in which the doctor will try to cure the disease with the help of powerful drugs that can kill cancer cells.


Endoscopic stents:

In some cases of cancer, the disease blocks the airway. Such cases are treated by inserting a stent.


Radiation therapy:

This procedure involves the direct use of a beam of radiation towards malignant cells in order to destroy them.


Targeted treatment:

Some of the specific genes or other factors are responsible for the growth of cancer, targeting such genes or other factors can stop or delay the growth of cancer. The treatment that targets such cells is called targeted treatment.



This type of emerging treatment aims to boost the body's immune system to defend it against cancerous diseases.


Small cell lung cancer:

In the case of small cell lung cancer, below are the options to treat the disease:-


Some groups of medicines help to control the growth of cancer cells. Depending on the severity, the doctor will provide you with the respective medication.


Radiation therapy:

In this procedure, radiation is used to treat the infected cancer cells. Such treatment helps to boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy or prevents cancer from spreading.


Surgery with Chemotherapy:

The combination of surgery with chemotherapy is one of the most effective cancer treatments.


Depending on the patient’s health condition and the disease's severity, the doctor will provide the necessary treatment.