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Non-Small Cell Carcinoma and Asbestos

The most common form of lung cancer is non-small cell carcinoma (NSCLC). Non-small cell carcinoma accounts for between 85 and 90 percent of all cases of lung cancer. It may develop from both long-term smoking and through exposure to asbestos.


NSCLC may take three forms. Its form depends on the type of cell that changes:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of this kind of lung cancer. It is characterized by small cells that line the airways.
  • Adenocarcinoma produces mucus on the outside of the lungs. This type of cancer is the most common type for nonsmokers.
  • Large cell carcinoma or undifferentiated carcinoma occurs in the lungs and appears as larger cells than the other forms. It spreads rapidly and makes up about 15 percent of all cases of lung cancer.

Risk Factors

Smoking remains the biggest risk factor when it comes to this form of lung cancer. The American Cancer Society has noted a correlation between the number of cigarettes smoked and how quickly the cancer develops and spreads. However, smokers are less likely to get cancer if they quit.

While not as prevalent a risk as smoking, exposure to asbestos is another leading cause of lung cancer. Asbestos was used as insulation and fire retardant coating in industrial and residential products until the 1970s.


After the cells mutate and tumors initially form, lung cancer can metastasize, or spread to other organs and systems. Some of the symptoms that signal this has occurred are bone pain, numb limbs, yellowing of the skin or eyes, lumps near the surface of the body, and headaches. Once those symptoms appear, it is likely that the cancer is in a later stage. Lung cancer goes through stages 0-IV, and each stage becomes more difficult to treat.

Once a person has been diagnosed with lung cancer, it is important for him or her to understand the available options. Treatments for NSCLC may include surgery as well as chemotherapy and radiation. A doctor who specializes in this form of cancer can tell you more about your specific case. If you have been affected by NSCLC caused by asbestos, we can help, too. Just fill out the form. We'll help you find the treatment that's right for you. We can also help you receive legal representation as well.

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