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The early detection of the lung cancer is a challenging problem, due to the structure of the cancer cells. This paper presents two segmentation methods, Hopfield Neural Network (HNN) and a Fuzzy C-Mean (FCM) clustering algorithm, for segmenting sputum color images to detect the lung cancer in its early stages. The manual analysis of the sputum samples is time consuming, inaccurate and requires intensive trained person to avoid diagnostic errors. The segmentation results will be used as a base for a Computer Aided Diagnosis (CAD) system for early detection of lung cancer which will improves the chances of survival for the patient. The two methods are designed to classify the image of N pixels among M classes. In this study, we used 1000 sputum color images to test both methods, and HNN has shown a better classification result than FCM, the HNN succeeded in extracting the nuclei and cytoplasm regions.