Large Cell Carcinoma

Pulmonary large cell carcinoma is an aggressive type of non-small cell lung cancer. Large cell carcinoma can be caused by smoking, asbestos exposure, and other factors. Medical treatment can help you live longer after a large cell carcinoma diagnosis. Get help for large cell carcinoma from our team right now.

Free Case Review

What Is Large Cell Carcinoma?

Large cell carcinoma is one of the types of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This type of cancer is very rare, accounting for approximately 7% of all lung cancers. It’s also called large cell lung cancer, according to the LUNGevity Foundation.

X-ray slideLarge cell carcinoma tumors have a white or tan color, and tend to grow in clusters or sheets throughout the body.

Doctors typically diagnose a patient with large cell carcinoma if their cancer cells are not readily classified into one of the other types of NSCLC (those being squamous cell lung cancer or adenocarcinomas).

In fact, as diagnostic technology advances, many cases of large cell carcinoma are now being classified as one of the other two types.

Like all forms of lung cancer, large cell carcinoma can be caused by exposure to harmful substances like cigarette smoke and asbestos exposure. Fortunately, those with large cell carcinoma can pursue medical treatment — and some may qualify for financial aid. Learn more by getting a free case review.

Get Help for Asbestos Lung Cancer
  • Access Financial Aid and Justice
  • Learn About Your Options
  • Contact Us for Free
Free Case ReviewAn older man and his wife hold each other.

What Causes Large Cell Carcinoma Tumors?

Like other lung cancers, large cell carcinoma tumors can develop if carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) damage the cells lining the lungs.

Possible causes of large cell carcinoma include:
  • Asbestos: Inhaling or swallowing asbestos fibers can cause large cell carcinoma or other types of lung cancer. People who worked with or around asbestos in shipyards, construction lots, or on other job sites are more likely to develop large cell carcinomas and other forms of lung cancer.
  • Smoking cigarettes: Cigarettes remain the biggest underlying cause of all types of NSCLC.
  • Radon: This is a radioactive, tasteless, odorless, and invisible gas that is usually concentrated in houses and basements.
  • Other carcinogens in the workplace: Arsenic, air pollution, uranium, nickel compounds, mustard gas, and diesel exhaust can all lead to large cell carcinoma or other types of NSCLC.
  • Secondhand smoke: This is the inhalation of tobacco smoke by individuals other than the smoker. Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of large cell carcinoma and lung cancer.

Some of the causes have a synergistic effect, meaning the risks are multiplied. For example, smokers who were exposed to asbestos regularly have a higher chance of developing lung cancers than those who just smoked or only suffered from asbestos exposure.

Symptoms of Large Cell Carcinoma

People with large cell lung carcinoma may not experience symptoms, especially in the early stages of this cancer.

Common symptoms of large cell carcinoma include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Bone pain
  • Coughing up rust-colored mucus or blood
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Voice hoarseness

The symptoms of large cell carcinoma are not significantly different from the other types of NSCLC.

Diagnosing Large Cell Carcinoma

There are several ways to diagnose large cell carcinoma. Which tests may be right for you will be determined by your doctor and health care team.

Diagnostic tests for large cell carcinoma include:

  • Bronchoscopy, which is a procedure that lets doctors look at your air passages and lungs. During bronchoscopy, your health care provider passes a thin tube through your mouth or nose and into your lungs.
  • Chest X-rays, which can show doctors whether you have tumors or suspicious growths in your lungs.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans, which combine a series of X-ray images taken from different angles. This way, the CT scans create cross-section slices of the interior of your body.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, which use computer-generated radio waves and a magnetic field to create images of tissues and organs in your body.

A female medical researcher holds up a small tubeThe tests above can help narrow down if you have lung cancer, but to determine if you have large cell carcinoma, doctors must perform a biopsy.

A biopsy is a tissue or fluid sample taken from your body. Pathologists examine the sample to determine whether it has large cell carcinoma cells. They may also perform a cytology, which is a biopsy performed with smaller pieces of tissue.

Diagnosed with large cell carcinoma after asbestos exposure? See if you qualify for financial compensation. Call (877) 446-5767 now.

Large Cell Carcinoma Misdiagnosis

Sometimes, large cell carcinoma can be misdiagnosed despite the best efforts of doctors.

Large cell carcinoma may be misdiagnosed as:

  • Asthma
  • Acid reflux
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Inflammatory myofibroblastic tumors
  • Lymphoma
  • Lung nodules
  • Tuberculosis
  • Pulmonary embolism

A misdiagnosis can prevent you from receiving proper treatment on time. If you believe your large cell carcinoma has been misdiagnosed, get a second opinion from a cancer expert.

Types of Large Cell Carcinoma

As a diagnosis is being confirmed, doctors may classify your large cell carcinoma into one of several subtypes.

Types of large cell carcinoma include:

  • Basaloid carcinoma: This type is usually located in the center of the lung or bronchus (one of the major airways connecting the lung and windpipe).
  • Clear cell carcinoma: This is a very rare subtype. It develops when glycogen, a type of sugar stored in the body, builds up over time.
  • Large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma (LCNEC): These tumors usually develop in the lung or gastrointestinal tract and are very aggressive.
  • Combined LCNEC: This is an extremely rare tumor which has features of other types of lung cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, lung adenocarcinoma, and giant cell carcinoma.
  • Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma: This is extremely rare, with only 200 known cases. It’s linked to the Epstein-Barr virs, which commonly causes mononucleosis (mono).
  • Rhaboid large cell carcinoma: This is a rather aggresive subtype that can be found in both children and adults.

Large Cell Carcinoma vs. Small Cell Carcinoma

Examples of Small and Large Cell Carcinoma

Large cell carcinoma should not be confused with small cell lung carcinoma, also known as small cell lung cancer (SCLC).

SCLC is a rare, fast-growing lung cancer that usually affects people with an extended history of smoking tobacco.

The cells of this cancer look flat, much like oats, and are also much tinier when viewed under a microscope compared to those of large cell carcinoma.

Prognosis for Large Cell Carcinoma

The prognosis, or likely outcome, of large cell carcinoma of the lung varies depending on the size, subtype, and staging of the tumors. However, the prognosis is generally poor.

Doctors typically measure the prognosis for large cell carcinoma using survival rate and life expectancy.

The general five-year survival rate for large cell carcinoma patients is 19%, according to a 2020 study from the journal Translational Lung Cancer Research. The overall life expectancy for large cell carcinoma was 35 months in the same study.

However, the prognosis for large cell carcinomas can vary by subtype. For instance, LCNEC patients only have a median life expectancy of approximately 6 months after diagnosis.

A great way to improve your large cell carcinoma prognosis is to get treated. Afford lung cancer treatments now: Get a free case review to learn more.

Get Help for Asbestos Lung Cancer
  • Access Financial Aid and Justice
  • Learn About Your Options
  • Contact Us for Free
Free Case ReviewAn older man and his wife hold each other.

Treatment Options for Large Cell Carcinoma Patients

There are several lung cancer treatments for large cell carcinoma patients, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and clinical trials.

Which treatment is the best choice for you or a loved one depends on various factors. These factors include the stage of the cancer, your age, medical history, and whether cancer metastasis (spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body) has occurred.


Surgery may be an option if the large cell carcinoma was detected early and has not spread. Depending on how extensive your cancer is, doctors may remove all or part of your lung in a process known as lung resection.


Chemotherapy uses drugs that kill fast-growing cells like large cell carcinoma lung tumors. Chemotherapy drugs have multiple negative side effects, such as hair loss, weight loss, anemia, tiredness, and infections. However, chemotherapy is often an effective way to fight this cancer.

Radiation Therapy

Your health care provider may use radiation therapy if the large cell carcinoma has grown too large to remove through surgery. Radiation slows cell growth by damaging their DNA. Eventually, the cancer cells stop dividing and die, causing the tumor to shrink.

Targeted Cell Therapy

Targeted therapy attacks the mutations in lung cancer cells that help them grow, divide, and spread. Unlike radiation and chemotherapy, targeted cell therapy can spare more healthy cells.


Immunotherapy drugs stimulate your immune system to fight cancer. There are many types of immunotherapy that could be used to treat large cell carcinoma, including cancer vaccines, tumor-infecting viruses, and checkpoint inhibitors.

Find Help for Someone Facing Large Cell Carcinoma

Receiving a large cell carcinoma diagnosis can be traumatic, especially if you don’t know what the future holds. Treatments can also be costly without insurance.

Fortunately, if you have large cell carcinoma, Lung Cancer Group can help you pursue financial compensation for your medical bills, pain, and suffering.

Get a free case review now to find out your eligibility.

Large Cell Carcinoma FAQs

Who is at risk of large cell carcinoma?

People at risk of large cell carcinoma and other types of lung cancer include those who smoked and those who were exposed to asbestos, radon, and other toxins.

Smoking cigarettes remains the biggest overall cause of all types of lung cancer.

Large cell carcinoma generally has a poor outlook. However, it may be curable if your providers catch and treat it in the early stages.

Yes, large cell carcinoma is rare. It only accounts for 7% of all lung cancer cases.

Yes, large cell carcinoma can go into remission, especially if the provider diagnoses and treats the condition in its early stages.

The survival time for non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) like large cell carcinoma is 35 months. For NSCLC patients who don’t receive treatment, the average survival time is just slightly over 7 months.

Lung Cancer Group was established by a team of caring advocates so those with lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases can get the help they deserve. Our site provides the most accurate and up-to-date information about lung cancer, its link to asbestos, and financial compensation available to patients. Contact us to learn more and get assistance.

  1. American Cancer Society (2023 January 12). “Lung Cancer Risk Factors.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  2. American Cancer Society (2022 March 2). “Lung Cancer Survival Rates.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  3. American Cancer Society (2023 January 12). “What Is Lung Cancer?” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  4. BMC (2020 July 20). Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery. “Clear cell tumor of the lung could be aggressive: a case report and review of the literature.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  5. BMC (2019 November 21). Respiratory Research. “Primary pulmonary lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma: a rare type of lung cancer with a favorable outcome in comparison to squamous carcinoma.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  6. Cleveland Clinic (2022 September 28). “Small Cell Lung Cancer.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  7. ClinicalKey (2021). Diagnostic Histopathy of Tumors. “Tumors of the Lung and Pleura.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from!/content/book/3-s2.0-B9780323428606000065.

  8. ClinicalKey (2011). Netter Collection of Medical Illustrations: Respiratory System. “Diseases and Pathology.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from!/content/book/3-s2.0-B9781437705744500135.

  9. Elsevier. Pulmonary Pathology (2008). “Chapter 26 – Usual Lung Cancers.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  10. European Respiratory Journal (2008). “Lung carcinomas with a basiloid pattern: a study of 90 cases focusing on their poor prognosis.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  11. Frontiers in Oncology (2021 August 27). “Management of Large Cell Neuroendocrine Carcinoma.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  12. Journal of Orthopedic Oncology (2016 April 6). “Case Report Open Access
    Long-term Survival of Large Cell Neuroendocrine Lung Carcinoma with Bony Metastases: A Case of Immunoprotectivity?.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  13. Mayo Clinic (2019 May 31). “Bronchoscopy.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  14. Mayo Clinic (2022 January 6). “CT scan.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  15. Mayo Clinic (2021 September 4). “MRI.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  16. National Cancer Institute. “Large cell carcinoma.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  17. National Library of Medicine: PubMed Central (2015). Annals of Thoracic Surgery. “Misdiagnosis of a small cell lung cancer resulting from inaccurate pathology.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  18. National Library of Medicine: PubMed Central (2014 July to September). Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics. “Large cell lung carcinoma with rhabdoid phenotype: report of a rare entity presenting with chest wall involvement.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  19. National Library of Medicine: PubMed Central (2013). Systematic Reviews. “Survival of patients with non-small cell lung cancer without treatment: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  20. National Library of Medicine: PubMed Central (2013). World Journal of Surgical Oncology. “Combined large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma with giant cell carcinoma of the lungs: a case report.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  21. National Foundation for Cancer Research (2020 November 4). “Small Cell Lung Cancer vs. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: What is the Difference?” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  22. ScienceDirect. The Teaching Files: Chest. “Online Case 24.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  23. World Health Organization: International Agency for Research on Cancer (2015). “WHO Classification of Tumours of the Lung, Pleura, Thymus and Heart.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

Free Case Review

Get Financial Compensation for Lung Cancer

  • Afford medical expenses and any other bills
  • Find peace of mind for you and your family
  • Get justice from the companies that harmed you

Call (877) 446-5767 or fill out the form to connect with our team and pursue financial compensation after a lung cancer diagnosis.

Start a Free Case Review

Secure Submission

Call us at (877) 446-5767 Talk to us via Live Chat