If a lung mass, or tumor, turns out to be cancerous, the cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood or the lymph, a fluid that surrounds the lung tissue. This process is called metastasis and can hinder organ function wherever the cancer spreads, as stated by the American Lung Association.
Lung cancer comes in two primary types: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer happens in about four of five lung cancer cases. It usually develops and spreads more slowly than small cell lung cancer. Adenocarcinoma, large cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the three types of non-small cell lung cancer, but all three of them generally require the same type of treatment, reports the American Lung Association.
Small cell lung cancer is either known as oat cell cancer or combined small cell carcinoma. Small cell lung cancer is usually connected with smoking cigarettes. However, whether the cancer is small cell or non-small cell, lung cancer is dangerous because it is difficult to find in its initial stages. The cancer can take several years to grow, and in the early phases there are often no noticeable symptoms. Once symptoms begin to appear, the cancer usually has metastasized through lymph or the bloodstream to places elsewhere in the body, according to the American Lung Association.