Large cell lung cancer is a subtype of non-small cell lung cancer.

Large cell lung cancer is categorized as such by how the cancer cells look under a microscope. The cells do not clearly look like adenocarcinoma or squamous cell lung cancer, and they are distinguished from small cell lung cancer cells by their larger size.1

Large cell lung cancer

In the past, about 10% of all lung cancers were classified as large cell. However, as more exact ways of diagnosing lung cancer have come into use, this percentage is dropping to possibly as low as 2%. Many lung cancers that would have been considered large cell in the past are now being identified as lung adenocarcinoma or squamous cell lung cancer. Having this additional information is important for choosing treatment options.1

This type of lung cancer can be found anywhere in the lung, although it is more often found in the periphery. The majority of large cell lung cancers are diagnosed in men.1

Patient Gateway: Living with non-small cell lung cancer

The Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patient Gateway is the central hub for updates on treatment options, research news, and patient resources designed to help people live better with non-small cell lung cancer.

Updated February 12, 2021


  1. Wistuba I, Brambilla E, Noguchi M. Chapter 17: Classic Anatomic Pathology and Lung Cancer. In: Pass HI, Ball D, Scagliotti GV, eds. IASLC Thoracic Oncology Second Edition. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018: 143-163. Accessed June 20, 2019.