Your doctor may recommend a diagnostic screening after discussing certain symptoms or medical and genetic history with you. Your doctor will ask questions about smoking, medical and family history.
Your doctor may recommend one or more tests to get an accurate diagnosis. There are various types of diagnostic tests to help detect lung cancer and determine the stage, such as:
Blood tests cannot diagnose lung cancer. They can, however, give more insight into overall health, which is valuable information for your doctor.
If the results of the imaging scans indicate lung cancer, your doctor will want to obtain a biopsy of the tissue or fluid from your lungs. This test can be performed several different ways. Your doctor will discuss the best option for you. This test will help determine what type of lung cancer you may have.
Depending on your risk factors and eligibility, a low-dose CT scan can screen for lung cancer in its early stages and detect precancerous cells. Low-dose cancer screening tests can reduce mortality rates for those at high risk. If you're a current or former smoker aged 50 or older, you could meet the high-risk eligibility criteria. Talk to your doctor if you think you might qualify.
Lung cancer screening is recommended only for adults at high risk as they have a higher chance of getting the disease. You should talk to your doctor about scheduling a low-dose computerized tomography (CT or CAT scan) every year if you:
Frequency of screenings is determined during your first screening. Each lung cancer screening is scored into a Lung-RADS (lung imaging reporting and data system) numbered 1 through 4 with 4 being where the most frequent screenings are recommended.
Lung-RADS 1 and 2:
The most common screening test for lung cancer is either a chest x-ray or a CT scan. A chest x-ray is usually done standing up with two views; one front to back and one from the side. In a CT scan, you will be asked to lie down on a table while you go through the CT scanner. This test will take images of the inside of your body. No matter the test, your doctor and physicians will guide you through what to expect for each procedure.
If you are diagnosed with lung cancer, your doctor will perform additional tests to help determine the extent of the cancer. This process is known as staging and will assist your doctor in knowing how to best treat your lung cancer.
There are four stages of non-small cell lung cancer. The four stages include:
The stages of small cell lung cancer are:
The prognosis for lung cancer is dependent on when the cancer is originally found and if it has spread. If caught early on, the survival rate is higher and the cancer may not have spread. Consult with your doctor to better understand your prognosis.
Let the experts at Banner MD Anderson assist with all your lung cancer screening tests and questions.