A  A  A   Print
How Does My Doctor Know I Have Lung Cancer?

How Does My Doctor Know I Have Lung Cancer?

If you’re having lung-cancer-like symptoms, your doctor will want to know why. Your doctor is likely to ask you questions about your:

  • Medical history

  • Smoking history

  • Family history of cancer or smoking

  • Exposure to other risk factors

In addition to asking you questions, your doctor may also do these things:

  • Perform a physical exam, which will include listening to your breathing.

  • Give you a sputum cytology test. For this test, each morning for 3 to 5 days, you collect the substance that you spit up from your lungs, called sputum. A pathologist then looks at the sputum under a microscope for cancer cells. Not all types of lung cancer show up in this test.

  • Schedule an X-ray of your chest to look for masses in your lungs.

  • Arrange for other imaging tests to get a better picture of your lungs. This may include a computed tomography (CT) scan and also perhaps a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test.

The results of these exams may be enough to rule out lung cancer. Or you may require further tests. However, if imaging tests show abnormal findings, such as a mass or fluid, you may need to have a sample taken. This sample, called a biopsy, is almost always required to diagnose lung cancer. A biopsy can be obtained by placing a special small camera called a bronchoscope in the airway, or by placing a needle through the skin and using images (CT scan or ultrasound) to guide where to take the sample. Or, occasionally a surgical procedure may be necessary. The method used to obtain a biopsy sample is determined partly by the location and size of the tumor.

 
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.