Lung Cancer Diagnostic Tests & Imaging
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After you’ve been evaluated for lung function and any other symptoms you are experiencing, your team at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) will use a variety of advanced lung cancer imaging tests to check for tumors in the lungs and elsewhere in the body.
In addition to diagnosing the disease, these tests also help us identify the cause of other symptoms you may be experiencing, such as shortness of breath or coughing up blood. The results of these lung cancer diagnostic tests enable our interventional pulmonologists to treat the disease, as well as any symptoms that impact your quality of life.
Some of the sophisticated imaging technology we use for the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer include:
Video: X-ray Medical AnimationMedical animation
Chest X-ray - This is commonly the first lung cancer imaging test you'll experience. It uses high-energy electromagnetic radiation to provide images of the lungs and surrounding tissues. Chest X-rays may reveal abnormalities such as shaded areas, which may be evaluated further to determine whether or not they are tumors.
Video: CT Scan Medical AnimationMedical animation
CT (Computerized Tomography) Scan – An advanced X- ray technique that creates a detailed, 3D image of the lungs and chest. A CT scan reveals the anatomy of the lungs and surrounding tissues, which our cancer doctors use to diagnose and monitor tumor growth. If neurological symptoms are present, a CT scan of the brain may be performed to check for metastases. Our doctors also use spiral CT, which is an even more advanced form of CT technology that uses a continuous spiraling motion to take detailed pictures of the body in mere seconds.
Lung Nodule Analysis – Our radiation oncologists use advanced post-treatment technology to evaluate how lung cancer tumors are responding to treatment. This technology compares CT scans taken at regular intervals to measure changes in tumor volume and density, which our doctors use to guide ongoing lung cancer treatment.
CT Angiogram – A CT angiogram allows our cancer doctors to examine the pulmonary artery, which is the main artery that supplies blood to the lungs from the heart. In this test, a special iodine-based contrast material is injected into the body before a CT scan to illuminate the pulmonary artery and smaller blood vessels in the chest. Your radiologist may perform a CT angiogram if you are experiencing shortness of breath to check for blood clots or other blockages in the lungs.
Video: Discovery PET\/CT 600 scannerLearn about the Discovery PET\/CT 600 scanner
PET/CT (Positron Emission Tomography/Computerized Tomography) – This revolutionary lung cancer diagnostic test combines two imaging technologies in one to locate small tumors in the lungs. A CT scan creates a 3D picture of the lungs, but it can miss small tumors if part of the lung has collapsed, as is sometimes the case. A PET scan goes beyond anatomy to show what is happening at a cellular level in the tissues of the lung. Combining PET/CT technology enables our doctors to know where the healthy lung tissue ends and the tumor begins. A PET scan also reveals cancerous cells before any structural changes are present. This precisely pinpoints tumors, so that we can properly diagnose and stage the disease, and best focus treatment on the cancerous tissues.
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MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) – An MRI uses radiofrequency waves to create a detailed, cross-sectional image of the lungs and surrounding tissues. This lung cancer imaging technology has much greater soft tissue contrast than a CT scan, making MRIs especially useful in detecting tumors and metastases in other parts of the body, such as the brain.
Video: Bone Scan Medical AnimationMedical animation
Bone Scan – If you are experiencing bone pain or blood tests reveal elevated calcium levels, your radiation oncologist may perform a bone scan to detect if lung cancer has spread to the bone.
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