Types, Stages and Grades
The stage of a cancer tells you how big it is and whether it has spread. The type tells which type of cell the cancer started from and the grade means how abnormal the cells look under the microscope.
Types of lung cancer
The are two main types of lung cancer:
- Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC),
- Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC).
NSCLC is the most common form of lung cancer and has better survival rates than SCLC, which tends to spread more rapidly. Most lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). There are three main types of NSCLC. These include:
- Squamous cell carcinoma,
- Large cell carcinoma.
Knowing which type you are helps your doctor decide what treatment is best for you.
Get information about the tumour, node and metastasis (TNM) staging system for lung cancer.
The stage of a cancer tells you how big it is and whether it has spread. Knowing the stage helps your doctor decide which treatment you need.
Your scans and tests will give some information about the stage of your cancer. But your doctor might not be able to tell you the exact stage until after you have surgery.
The TNM staging system is the most common way for doctors to stage non small cell lung cancer. And it is sometimes used for small cell lung cancer.
TNM stands for Tumour, Node, Metastasis. Find out about TNM Staging here.
Doctors use the TNM system to create a number staging system: with stages 1 to 4.
Doctors sometimes use a simpler staging system for small cell lung cancer. They might describe it as limited disease or extensive disease.
Grades of lung cancer
Grading is a way of dividing cancer cells into groups based on how the cells look under a microscope. This gives you and your doctors an idea of how quickly or slowly the cancer might grow and whether it is likely to spread.
There are 2 main types of lung cancer: non small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Grading is not used for small cell lung cancer.
Grades of non small cell lung cancer
The cells look very like normal cells. They tend to be slow growing and are less likely to spread than higher grade cancer cells. They are called low grade.
The cells look more abnormal and are more likely to spread. This grade is also called moderately well differentiated or moderate grade.
Grades 3 and 4
The cells look very abnormal and not like normal cells. They tend to grow quickly and are more likely to spread. They are called poorly differentiated or high grade.