Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

3 min read

What is NSCLC?

What is NSCLC?

NSCLC is a type of cancer that forms in the cells of the lung. There are different types of NSCLC which are named according to the types of cells in which the cancer is found. The three main types are:

  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Large cell carcinoma

NSCLC may be described in “stages” by your doctor. Typically, it is classified in 5 stages: 0 through 4. The higher the stage number, the more the cancer has spread.


What causes NSCLC?

There are many factors that can increase your risk of developing NSCLC, which include:

  • Smoking or having smoked in the past
  • Being exposed to second-hand smoke
  • Exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace (e.g., asbestos, chromium, soot or tar)
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Air pollution
  • A family history of lung cancer



What are the most common symptoms of NSCLC?

In the early stages of lung cancer, you may not experience any signs or symptoms of the disease. However, as it progresses, the most common symptoms include:

  • A cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse
  • Blood in mucus that is coughed up
  • Chest pain that gets worse with deep breathing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Hoarseness
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Weight loss

How common is lung cancer?

In 2017, nearly 29,000 Canadians were diagnosed with lung cancer, which represented 14% of all new cancer cases that year. On average, 78 Canadians were diagnosed with lung cancer every day in 2017.

If you would like more information about NSCLC, speak with your doctor.