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Home > Mesothelioma articles > Adenocarcinoma - type of non-small-cell lung cancer

Adenocarcinoma - type of non-small-cell lung cancer

Adenocarcinoma is the type of non-small-cell lung cancer.

Non-small cell lung cancers make up over three quarters of all new lung cancer cases in the United States. While there is only one type of small cell lung cancer, there are three types of non-small cell lung cancer. The three types of non-small cell lung cancer are squamous carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma. Adenocarcinoma is the most common non-small-cell lung cancer - especially in women.

Adenocarcinoma of the lung is the most common type of lung cancer and accounts for 30 to 35 percent of primary lung tumors.

Most adenocarcinoma cases originate in the outer lungs, but roughly 33 percent first surface in the lungs' central regions. Once adenocarcinoma cancer cells develop, they form thick tumors that inhibit breathing and lung function. Sometimes, these tumors spread to the liver, adrenal glands, and bones, making adenocarcinoma much more difficult to treat. In about half of the cases in which adenocarcinoma spreads from the lungs, it forms metastases in only the brain.

Symptoms of adenocarcinoma lung cancer may include shortness of breath, the coughing up of blood, fatigue, chest pains, and unexplained weight loss. Adenocarcinoma is usually treated with surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

Metastasis (or metastases, pleural) means that a cancer has left its primary site and spread to a different part of a body.

Brain metastasis refers to when a cancer has spread to the brain from another site in the body, most commonly the lung or breast. There can be one or more than one metastases to the brain, and the cancer can go to different parts of the brain.

Symptoms of Adenocarcinoma of the Lung and Brain Metastases

Metastatic brian tumors manifest in a similar way as do primary brain tumors. They can cause increased pressure in the brain which can create headaches, nausea, vomiting, and tiredness. Because each part of the brain affects different parts of the body, metastatic cancer to the brain can cause changes in the nervous system such as weakness of part of the body, difficulty walking or speaking, or changes in sight. Some metastases can increase the chance for a seizure. Brain metastases almost never cause pain.

Adenocarcinoma of the lung manifests as do most lung cancers. Patients can develop shortness of breath, persistent cough, voice changes, weakness, or occasionally some bleeding with cough. Patients with lung cancer can also manifest signs of weakness, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Unfortunately most lung cancers are recognized at a late (advanced) stage.

The diagnosis of Adenocarcinoma of the Lung and Brain Metastases relies upon the medical history, physical examination, and radiological studies such as a chest CT (computed tomography) scan for lung cancer. Imaging of the brain is with a head CT or a head MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). CT scans and MRIs are often administered with a contrast agent by vein (IV contrast) which allows for better definition of suspicious areas that could be cancer.

The treatment for Adenocarcinoma of the Lung and Brain Metastases of brain metastases depends on factors such as the tumor of origin (for example, adenocarcinoma of the lung), the number and location of the lesions within the brain, and the extent of cancer in places other than the brain. Most patients are placed on steroids (Decadron) to relieve significant brain swelling that can cause severe symptoms. Patients may also take an anti-seizure medicine, since seizures are a common complication, although there is no evidence that anti-seizure medicines benefit patients who have not had a seizure.

The blood supply of the brain has a "barrier" which does not allow for chemotherapy to reach brain tumors. For this reason, radiation therapy is a cornerstone of treatment of brain metastases.

The standard approach with brain metastases of any other origin is to decide whether the tumor can be removed. A head CT scan or a head MRI is helpful in determining if there is more than one tumor and to define the specific sites in the brain where the tumor or tumors are located. In patients with only a single brain tumor, or two or three different sites of metastases, who are otherwise healthy, it may be possible to surgically remove the tumor and then treat with irradiation.

Adenocarcinoma is now the predominant histologic subtype in many countries, and issues relating to subclassification of adenocarcinoma are very important. One of the biggest problems with lung adenocarcinomas is the frequent histologic heterogeneity. In fact, mixtures of adenocarcinoma histologic subtypes are more common than tumors consisting purely of a single pattern of acinar, papillary, bronchioloalveolar, and solid adenocarcinoma with mucin formation.

Criteria for the diagnosis of bronchioloalveolar carcinoma have varied widely in the past. The current WHO/International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) definition is much more restrictive than that previously used by many pathologists because it is limited to only noninvasive tumors.

If stromal, vascular, or pleural invasion are identified in an adenocarcinoma that has an extensive bronchioloalveolar carcinoma component, the classification would be an adenocarcinoma of mixed subtype with predominant bronchioloalveolar pattern and either a focal acinar, solid, or papillary pattern, depending on which pattern is seen in the invasive component. Several variants of adenocarcinoma are recognized in the new classification, including well-differentiated fetal adenocarcinoma, mucinous (colloid) adenocarcinoma, mucinous cystadenocarcinoma, signet ring adenocarcinoma, and clear cell adenocarcinoma.

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