Lung Cancer (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Exams and Tests
To determine whether lung cancer may be causing your respiratory symptoms, your doctor will evaluate your:
Initial exams and tests for suspected lung cancer include:
If your medical history, physical exam, or chest X-ray suggest that lung cancer is present, your doctor may recommend other tests, such as:
After the type of lung cancer has been diagnosed, testing is done to find out whether the cancer has spread (metastasized) to other organs in your body and to determine the stage of the cancer. Treatment of lung cancer is based on the stage of the cancer. Tests used to determine whether the cancer has spread may include:
An MRI of the spine may be done if there is concern that the lung cancer has already spread to the spine. An MRI of the chest may also be done, but a chest CT scan is used most often to find out whether the cancer has spread in the chest.
Lung function studies, including a lung scan (ventilation and perfusion scans, V/Q scan), may be done if surgery to remove cancer in all or part of a lung is being considered. A person who has very poor lung function may not be a good candidate for surgery.
If small cell lung cancer is diagnosed, additional testing may include a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy.
Several studies have examined the usefulness of chest X-rays, sputum cytologies, or spiral CT to screen for lung cancer in people who do not have symptoms. Although these tests can sometimes diagnose early lung cancer, they have not been proved to affect the long-term outcome (prognosis) of lung cancer. Currently no medical professional organizations recommend routine screening for lung cancer. Experts continue to study the benefits of screening tests.
Screening may help people whose risk for lung cancer is higher than normal. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of screening tests if you:
Your doctor can help you decide whether a screening test for lung cancer is right for you. He or she may also help you lower your lung cancer risk and plan for regular checkups.
Screening tests may aid in the early diagnosis of lung cancer, but the tests can also show abnormal findings, such as nodules, that are not cancer (false-positives). The finding of a solitary pulmonary nodule (SPN) on a chest X-ray does not always mean that cancer is present. Certain tests can help doctors determine whether an SPN is noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). If cancer is suspected and the tissue is located close to the chest wall, a needle biopsy is recommended to confirm or rule out the presence of cancer. A needle biopsy uses a long needle inserted through the chest wall to remove a sample of lung tissue. Imaging procedures such as CT scan, ultrasound, or fluoroscopy usually are used to help guide the needle to the right spot.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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