Diagnosis of Lung Cancer

Initial assessment of patients with suspected lung cancer is via the GP surgery. A GP may request a chest X-ray and blood tests. If a cough is productive, microscopic examination of the sputum may reveal cancer cells. Further investigations are usually hospital based, often after referral to a Chest Physician.

A diagnosis of lung cancer requires a tumour sample that can be examined microscopically. This is often obtained at bronchoscopy where a flexible telescope is passed into the lung.

Depending on the position of the tumour, a computed tomography (CT) guided lung biopsy may be performed. Alternatively, cancer cells are sometimes obtained from a lymph node or from pleural fluid.

In addition to a chest X-ray, patients also require a CT scan of the chest and abdomen in order to determine the extent of the tumour. Other scans, such as a brain scan or a bone scan, may be performed if symptoms indicate possible malignant involvement.

"Dear Chris, I know it isn’t easy having doctors as patients! Thanks for spending the time to talk things through with us"
Dr Anon, Devon

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