Bronchogenic carcinomas include small cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, large-cell carcinoma and undifferentiated carcinoma. Bronchogenic carcinoma is clearly associated with tobacco smoking. Once the diagnosis of bronchogenic carcinoma is confirmed by a biopsy study, disease staging with CT or FDG-PET is indicated because treatment is stage-based. While stage I and II disease benefit from surgical lobectomy, chemotherapy is essential for patients with stage III and IV.

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large cell carcinoma of the lung

Image: “LOWER RESPIRATORY TRACT: LARGE CELL CARCINOMA The corresponding surgical resection shows neoplastic cells with abundant pale eosinophilic cytoplasm and a surrounding infiltrate of inflammatory cells which can also be seen among the tumor cells in the fine needle aspirate specimen. A histologic section shows a proliferation of atypical cells along the alveolar walls (A).” by The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) – PEIR Digital Library (Pathology image database). Image# 408049. Image and description are from the AFIP Atlas of Tumor Pathology. License: Public Domain


Definition of Bronchogenic Carcinoma

Bronchogenic carcinoma includes small and non-small cell lung cancer. These tumors arise from the bronchial and bronchiolar tree in the lungs and are considered the leading cause of death from cancer in both men and women combined. Squamous-cell carcinoma, small-cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large-cell carcinoma, are all types of the bronchogenic carcinoma spectrum.

Epidemiology and Etiology of Bronchogenic Carcinoma

The incidence of bronchogenic carcinoma is estimated to be more than 200,000 cases per year, while bronchogenic carcinoma related deaths are about 160,000 per year in the United States. These figures put bronchogenic carcinoma as the second most common malignancy in the United States, after prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women.

small cell carcinoma

Image: “Histopathologic image of small cell carcinoma of the lung. CT-guided core needle biopsy. H & E stain.” by KGH. License: CC BY-SA 3.0

Tobacco smoking is the most important etiology and the risk factor for bronchogenic carcinoma.

Another important category of smokers is called the never smokers. These are people who smoked less than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime. While small-cell lung cancer is rare in this group, adenocarcinoma is being increasingly identified. Environmental air pollution from fuel combustion has also been suggested as a possible etiological factor for bronchogenic carcinoma in non-smokers.

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