Large-cell lung cancer

Large-cell lung cancer is one of the histological types of non-small-cell carcinomas of the lung.

It is thought to account for approximately 10% of bronchogenic carcinoma 1.

Patients present with dyspnea, chronic cough and hemoptysis.

Microscopically large cell carcinoma is characterized by large nuclei/nucleoli with a moderate amount of cytoplasm, hence the name large cell carcinoma. This undifferentiated tumor lacks distinctive features of small cell carcinoma, glandular or squamous differentiation.

According to the last international consensus, the diagnosis of large cell carcinoma should not be achieved based on small biopsy or cytology samples and is, therefore, restricted to resection specimens where the tumor is completely sampled to exclude a differentiated component 4.

On immunophenotyping, characteristic features include 2:

  • loss of staining with CK5/6
  • CK14 positive in most squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
  • lack of MOC 31 positive in most adenocarcinomas
  • positive immunoreactivity to EGFR, PDGFR-alpha and c-kit.

A histological subtype is of a large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma 3.

Large-cell lung cancer of the lung typically presents as a large peripheral mass of solid attenuation and irregular margin. Focal necrosis can be present. Other characteristics include rapid growth and early metastasis. 

The histologic subtype of large cell neuroendocrine tumor has a more aggressive pattern and is associated with poorer prognosis. 

Share article

Article information

rID: 22405
System: Chest, Oncology
Tag: cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Large cell carcinoma of the lung
  • Large cell cancer of the lung
  • Large cell cancer of lung
  • Large cell carcinoma of lung
  • Large cell carcinomas (LCC) of the lung
  • Large cell carcinomas of the lung

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Case 1: apical location invading the chest wall
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.