Abandoning the Notion of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Trends Mol Med. 2019 Jul;25(7):585-594. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2019.04.012. Epub 2019 May 30.


Non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) represent 85% of lung tumors. NSCLCs encompass multiple cancer types, such as adenocarcinomas (LUADs), squamous cell cancers (LUSCs), and large cell cancers. Among them, LUADs and LUSCs are the largest NSCLC subgroups. LUADs and LUSCs appear sharply distinct at the transcriptomic level, as well as for cellular control networks. LUADs show distinct genetic drivers and divergent prognostic profiles versus LUSCs. Therapeutic clinical trials in NSCLC indicate differential LUAD versus LUSC response to treatments. Hence, LUAD and LUSC appear to be vastly distinct diseases at the molecular, pathological, and clinical level. Abandoning the notion of NSCLC may critically help in developing novel, more effective subtype-specific molecular alteration-targeted therapeutic procedures.

Keywords: lung cancer; prognosis; therapy; tumor classification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis
  • Adenocarcinoma / etiology
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / etiology*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / therapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / etiology
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Disease Management
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcriptome
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers, Tumor