cancer testing can be invasive, it is debated in the medical community whether
or not screening for lung cancer is beneficial. Some believe it puts the
patient at unnecessary risk. Since people don’t usually exhibit symptoms until
the disease has advanced, others think it is the key to catching lung cancer in
the early, more treatable stages. Most likely, your doctor will recommend
testing only if there is cause to believe you might have lung cancer. Testing
is a way to rule out other diseases, as well as to determine the possibility of
doctor will check your vitals, listen to your breathing, and feel for a swollen
liver or lymph nodes.
CT (computed tomography) scan
CT scan is a special kind of X-ray that takes several internal pictures as it
rotates around your body to give a more complete idea of the size, shape, and
location of possible tumors.
Additional Lung Cancer Tests
tests can detect masses or tumors, but can’t determine if they are benign or
malignant. Based on preliminary findings, your doctor may order more conclusive
tests to determine if cancer is present. Once the tests are performed, a doctor
who specializes in reading lab results and diagnosing diseases (pathologist)
will study samples of cells or tissue from your lungs. This is called a biopsy.
is a thick fluid coughed up from the lungs. A sample of sputum (also called phlegm) is sent
to the lab for a microscopic examination to find out of cancer cells are
long needle is used to take a sample of fluid (pleural effusion) between the
layers of tissue that line your lung. The sample is then sent to the lab to be examined
for cancer cells.
thin, lighted tube (bronchoscope) is inserted through your mouth or nose into your
lung to examine the bronchi and lungs. A cell sample may be taken for
A thin needle is used to remove a
tissue or fluid sample from your lungs or lymph nodes.
Small incisions are made in your chest
and back to examine tissue with a thin tube.
chest is opened with a long incision to remove lymph node and other tissue for
will insert a thin, lighted tube through a small incision at the top of your
breastbone to take tissue and lymph node samples.
for the Spread of Lung Cancer
tests may be required to locate or track the spread of cancer (metastasis).
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
An MRI is an imaging test that uses magnets and
radio waves, instead of radiation. This test is often used in cases when lung
cancer is suspected to have spread to the brain or spinal cord.
PET (Positron Emission Tomography) Scan
A PET scan is a procedure that sends sugar
containing a radioactive atom into your body. Cancer cells consume the sugar and
a special camera locates the radioactivity, creating 3-D color images.
A trace amount of radioactive material is injected
into your vein. The radioactive material will build up in any abnormal bone.
This test is only done in cases where the cancer is suspected to have spread to
This procedure uses sound waves to guide a bronchoscope down your
windpipe to locate and photograph tumors. If present, samples from the area(s) in
question will be taken for biopsy.