Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Diagnosis & Detection
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Diagnosing Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
The non-small cell lung cancer staging process begins with a diagnosis. Currently there are no guidelines established for lung cancer screening and most doctors do not recommend testing healthy people. Sometimes a tumor is found during a routine chest X-ray or during the evaluation and treatment of another chest condition, like bronchitis or heart disease.
You and your doctor can determine what kind of tests or screenings may benefit you. There are a variety of tests your doctor may use to make a non-small cell lung cancer diagnosis, including:
Imaging Tests - There are several types of imaging tests that may assist your doctor in diagnosing non-small cell lung cancer. Some of these tests include: chest X-ray, computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan and positron emission tomography (PET) scan.
Biopsies - Cancerous cells can be distinguished from normal cells under a microscope. A biopsy is a method of taking a tissue sample to check for abnormal cells. There are several ways for doctors to collect samples from abnormal areas in the lung. A bronchoscopy is a method where a pathologist inserts a long tube into your airway and bronchi. Small instruments can be used to remove a tissue sample for analysis by a pathologist.
Lab Work and Blood Tests - Samples of cells can be analyzed in the lab to help find cancer cells or determine the type of cell affected. A sputum cytology looks at phlegm coughed up from the lungs under a microscope. The chemistry of a cell sample may also be analyzed using immunohistochemistry tests. And at the molecular level, there are ways to test for specific genes. However, these are not widely available and this information is more often used to help determine treatmens than it is to make a non-small cell lung cancer diagnosis.
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