Pathology dictionary

What is non-small cell carcinoma?

Pathologists divide cancers into groups based on the size of the tumour cells. Non-small cell carcinoma is a group of cancers with tumours made up of medium and large sized cells.

There are many different types of non-small cell carcinoma. The most common types of non-small cell carcinoma are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.

The diagnosis of non-small cell carcinoma is usually made after a very small sample of tissue is removed in a procedure called a fine needle aspiration (FNA). Non-small cell carcinoma on its own is a preliminary diagnosis. If you have received a preliminary diagnosis of non-small cell carcinoma, you should receive a more specific diagnosis with the type of non-small cell carcinoma (for example, squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma) after a larger piece of tissue is removed and sent to pathology for examination.

Treatment for non-small cell carcinoma is based on the specific type of cancer and the stage of the disease.

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