Diagnosis

In addition to a complete medical history to check for risk factors and symptoms, and a physical examination to provide other information about signs of lung cancer and other health problems, procedures used to diagnose lung cancer may include:

  • Chest x-ray – to look for any mass or spot on the lungs.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET scan): Positron emission tomography (PET) uses small amounts of radioactive materials called radiotracers, a special camera and a computer to help evaluate your organ and tissue functions. By identifying body changes at the cellular level, PET may detect the early onset of disease before it is evident on other imaging tests.
  • Computed tomography scan (CT or CAT scan.) – a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.
  • Sputum cytology – a study of phlegm (mucus) cells under a microscope.
  • Needle biopsy – a needle is guided into the mass while the lungs are being viewed on a CT scan and a sample of the mass is removed and evaluated in the pathology laboratory under a microscope.
  • Bronchoscopy – the examination of the bronchi (the main airways of the lungs) using a flexible tube (bronchoscope) passed down the mouth or nose. Bronchoscopy helps to evaluate and diagnose lung problems, assess blockages, obtain samples of tissue and/or fluid, and/or to help remove a foreign body.
  • Mediastinoscopy – a process in which a small cut is made in the neck so that a tissue sample can be taken from the lymph nodes (mediastinal nodes) along the windpipe and the major bronchial tube areas to evaluate under a microscope.
  • X-rays and scans of the brain, liver, bone, and adrenal glands - to determine if the cancer has spread from where it started into other areas of the body.

Other tests and procedures may be used as well.

Source: Adapted from content provided by StayWell Custom Communications (http://ssov3.staywellsolutionsonline.com/). Always consult a physician about specific medical problems.