The information on this page was reviewed and approved by
Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science at CTCA.

This page was updated on August 19, 2021.

Adenocarcinoma of the lung

Most lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancers, and most non-small lung cancers are adenocarcinomas. This form of lung cancer accounts for more than 30 percent of all lung cancers and about half of all non-small cell lung cancers.

Adenocarcinoma forms in glands that secrete mucus. Other than the lungs, adenocarcinoma is most prevalent in cancers found in the prostate, pancreas, esophagus, colon and rectum. In the lungs, adenocarcinoma tumors most often form in the alveoli, the tiny balloon-like sacs that help pump air in and out of the lungs.

Learn more about adenocarcinoma

Symptoms of adenocarcinoma of the lung

The symptoms of adenocarcinomas in the lung include:

  • Persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Raspy voice
  • Cough that produces blood
  • Unexplained weight loss

Learn more about the symptoms of lung cancer

Diagnosing adenocarcinoma of the lung

Adenocarcinoma may be diagnosed in several ways, including:

Imaging: An X-ray, MRI or CT-scan may be performed to screen for an abnormal mass in the lungs.

Biopsy: A small sample of lung tissue is removed and examined by a pathologist to determine if cancer is present.

Lab test: A sample of sputum (saliva and mucus coughed up from the airways) is tested for cancer cells.

Learn more about diagnostic procedures for lung cancer

Treatment for adenocarcinoma of the lung

Treatment options for adenocarcinoma of the lung vary depending on the patient’s condition and needs. These treatment options may be delivered alone or in combination. Treatment options include:

Surgery: The adenocarcinoma tumor is removed from the lung.

Radiation therapy: Radiation therapies used to target adenocarcinoma tumors include external beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy.

Immunotherapy: Drugs called checkpoint inhibitors help the immune system better identify and attack cancer cells.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy drugs are designed to destroy cancer cells, either throughout the whole body or in a specific area.

Learn more about treatment options for lung cancer

Next topic: What is stage 4 lung cancer?

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