Tests That Can Be Used To Diagnose Lung Cancer

Many health experts recommend that people who are over the age of 50 and are at an increased risk for lung cancer undergo regular screening. Studies have shown that lung cancer screening can help save lives. There are many ways that lung cancer can be diagnosed. Below are some examples of tests that can be used to diagnose lung cancer:

Lung Cancer Tests

Imaging Tests

Doctors may order an x-ray of your lungs. The x-ray may reveal abnormal nodules or masses. Doctors often order CT scans to check for lung cancer. A CT scan can reveal lesions in the lungs that the x-ray may not be able to detect.

A PET scan is another imaging test that can used to diagnose lung cancer. A PET scan involves injecting a person with radioactive sugar. A special camera will also used to detect radioactivity. A PET scan can not only show whether a person has lung cancer, but it can also reveal with the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.


A bronchoscopy is another tool that can be used to detect lung cancer. It involves inserting a tube through the nose or mouth into the airways of the lungs. The bronchoscopy allows doctors to see whether there are tumors present in the lungs. The doctor may also take a sample of cells in order to determine whether they are cancerous.

Sputum Cytology

Sputum is a mixture of saliva and mucus. Many patients who are suffering from lung cancer produce sputum. Doctors can examine sputum under a microscope in order to determine whether there are cancerous cells present.

Lung Biopsy

A lung biopsy involves taking a sample of tissue and then studying it underneath a microscope. There are several ways that biopsy can be performed. Doctors can insert a needle into the chest wall in order to remove the tissue. An open biopsy is another option. It involves making an incision between the ribs and removing a collection of cells.

Open biopsies are typically performed when physicians need a larger cell sample. An open biopsy may also be performed if other tests detect something abnormal. Additionally, a video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, or VATs surgery, can be used to perform a biopsy. It involves inserting a device called a thoracoscope into the chest in order to remove a sample of tissue.