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Large Cell Carcinoma of the Lung


by Adele Shenoy MD and Charles L. Fishman, MD

carcinoma of the lungs

Large-cell carcinomas are a diagnosis of exclusion when a lung malignancy does not meet the criteria of small-cell lung cancer (SCLC), adenocarcinoma, or squamous-cell carcinoma based on light microscopy and immunohistochemical-marker expression.

Large-cell carcinomas are aggressive and represent about 5%-10% of lung cancers. Histologically, they are malignant epithelial neoplasms (poorly differentiated) without glandular or squamous differentiation or small-cell features.

Causes and Risk Factors

Smoking is the primary risk factor for all lung cancers, including large-cell carcinoma. The median age of presentation is 61 years; men are three times more likely than women to develop these cancers.

Read the full In Brief for more about:

  • Signs and Symptoms

  • Diagnostic Evaluation and Differential Diagnosis

  • Treatment Options

  • and a summary of Lung Cancer Classification

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Travis WD, Brambilla EW, Burke AP, Marx A, Nicholson AG, eds. WHO Classification of Tumours of the Lung, Pleura, Thymus, and Heart. Lyon, France: IARC Press; 2015.

Clinical Lung Cancer Genome Project; Network Genomic Medicine. A genomics-based classification of human lung tumors. Sci Transl Med. 2013;5(209):209ra153.

Rajdev K, Hasan Siddiqui A, Ibrahim U, Patibandla P, Khan T, El-Sayegh D. An unusually aggressive large cell carcinoma of the lung: undiagnosed until autopsy. Cureus. 2018;10:e2202.

Derks J, Hendriks L, Buikhuisen W, Groen H, Thunnissen E, Van Suylen RJ, Houben R, Damhuis R, Speel E, Dingemans AM. Clinical features of large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma: a population-based overview. European Respiratory Journal 2016 47: 615-624; DOI: 10.1183/13993003.00618-2015.

Limaiem F, Tariq M, Wallen J. Lung Carcinoid Tumors. StatPearls. Last Update: October 16, 2020.

Pulmonary Neuroendocrine Tumors. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.



Chuck Fishman, M.D.

Dr. Fishman is an assistant professor of medicine at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York, and is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine in Pulmonary disease. He has been a practicing pulmonologist for 26 years. He completed residency and chief residency in Internal Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, NY, and fellowship training in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at New York University-Bellevue Medical Center. Prior to this, he completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and received his MD degree from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. His hobbies include snow shoeing, pickleball, and serving in the leadership of his Synagogue.

Adele Shenoy, M.D.

Dr. Shenoy graduated from New York Medical College and is currently a first year resident in Internal Medicine at Mount Sinai West/Mount Sinai Morningside. She will begin her Dermatology residency at Northwell next year. A native of Westport, Connecticut. Dr. Shenoy completed her undergraduate education at Dartmouth College. Her hobbies include running, ballet, and playing the viola.


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