Which conditions should be included in the differential diagnoses of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)?

Updated: Jul 15, 2021
  • Author: Winston W Tan, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Nagla Abdel Karim, MD, PhD  more...
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Answer

Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) must be differentiated from small cell lung cancer (SCLC) in order to plan appropriate treatment. SCLC is usually more aggressive than NSCLC and presents as a central lesion with hilar and mediastinal invasion along with regional adenopathy. Many patients with SCLC already have metastatic disease at initial diagnosis. The most common sites of metastasis of lung cancer are the bones, liver, adrenal glands, pericardium, brain, and spinal cord. [43]

Other conditions to be considered include the following:

  • Benign lung tumors

  • Carcinoid lung tumors

  • Granuloma

  • Hamartoma

  • Metastatic cancer

  • Pneumomediastinum

  • Pneumonia, empyema, and abscess

  • Pneumothorax, tension and traumatic


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