Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer: A Guide for Patients

Guides for Patients are designed to assist patients, their relatives and caregivers to better understand the nature of different types of cancer and evaluate the best available treatment choices.

What is non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)?

Non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) may arise anywhere in the tissue that lines the air passages in the lung. The term NSCLC describes a group of lung cancers, which is further subdivided into squamous and non‐squamous (mainly adenocarcinoma) cancer based on histopathological features. NSCLC accounts for 80 to 85% of all lung cancer cases. Cells found in NSCLC tumours do not look small under microscope, as opposed to another, less frequent type of lung cancer called small-cell lung cancer (SCLC).

Beyond a definition of NSCLC, in this guide for patients you will find answers to questions such as:

  • Is NSCLC frequent?
  • What causes NSCLC?
  • How is NSCLC diagnosed?
  • What is important to know to get the optimal treatment?
  • What are the treatment options?
  • What are the possible side effects of the treatments?
  • What happens after the treatment?

This guide for patients has been prepared in collaboration with Anticancer Fund as a service to patients, to help patients and their relatives better understand the nature of non-small-cell lung cancer and appreciate the best treatment choices available according to the subtype of non-small-cell lung cancer. ESMO recommends that patients ask their doctors about what tests or types of treatments are needed for their type and stage of disease.

The Patient Guide for Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer was first published in 2012 and subsequently updated in 2014 and 2016.