How is the adenocarcinoma subtype of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) characterized?

Updated: Jun 05, 2020
  • Author: Winston W Tan, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Nagla Abdel Karim, MD, PhD  more...
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Answer

Adenocarcinoma, arising from the bronchial mucosal glands, is the most common NSCLC cancer in the United States, representing 35-40% of all lung cancers. It is the subtype observed most commonly in persons who do not smoke. It usually occurs in a peripheral location within the lung, in some cases at the site of pre-existing scars, wounds, or inflammation (ie, a “scar carcinoma”).

Bronchoalveolar carcinoma is a distinct subtype of adenocarcinoma with a classic manifestation as an interstitial lung disease on chest radiograph. Bronchoalveolar carcinoma arises from type II pneumocytes and grows along alveolar septa. This subtype may manifest as a solitary peripheral nodule, multifocal disease, or a rapidly progressing pneumonic form. A characteristic finding in persons with advanced disease is voluminous watery sputum.


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