Published: Sept. 2, 2011
Updated: Sept. 2, 2011
Lung cancer is divided into types based on how the cells appear under a microscope.
About 80 percent of lung cancers are non-small cell. There are several major subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer:
Small cell lung cancer starts in the bronchi (small air passages in the lungs) and can spread to the rest of the body quickly, even in the early stages of the disease.
It is rare for someone who has never smoked cigarettes to develop this type of lung cancer.
The Duke Cancer Institute has had considerable long-term success in using aggressive treatments for this type of cancer.
These rare tumors grow slowly and are usually cured by surgery. They can spread to the rest of the body, but even then the outlook is better than for most cases of small cell lung cancer or non-small cell lung cancer.
Thymomas are tumors that grow on the outside of the thymus, a small organ located under the breastbone. These tumors are uncommon and usually grow slowly.
Learn more about lung cancer: