Diagnosing lung cancer

Lung cancer is not only common, it claims many lives. In the U.S. alone, one in every four cancer deaths is from lung cancer.

The good news is, you can take steps to reduce your risk of lung cancer. And new methods of screening for lung cancer allow doctors to catch it early, when it's still curable.

Complete our lung appointment request form to see if you are a good candidate for a lung screening, often covered by Medicare and most insurance plans for qualified patients meeting the following criteria:

  • 55-77 years of age and in good health

  • Have no signs or symptoms of lung cancer

  • Are a current smoker or have quit within the last 15 years

  • Have a tobacco-smoking history of at least 30 pack-years (For example, if you smoked a pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years, etc.) 

Lung cancer diagnosis

If your doctor suspects you have lung cancer, he or she will use one or more tests to confirm a diagnosis.

These tests include:

  • Biopsy—a procedure that allows doctors to take a sample of abnormal tissue or fluid

  • Navigational bronchoscopy—a minimally invasive procedure that lets doctors see inside the lungs using a small tube (bronchoscope) with a camera attached to it. During a bronchoscopy, our doctors can also collect tissue samples

  • Endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) combined with transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA) - most commonly used to:  allow doctors to diagnose, stage, and re-stage patients with suspected or known non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); to sample mediastinal masses or cancers, pulmonary nodules and endobronchial or peribronchial lesions; or it can help guide procedures, like airway stenting

  • Sputum cytology—a test to look for cancer cells in mucus coughed up from the lungs.

At The Christ Hospital Health Network, we also offer an advanced test called navigational bronchoscopy. It combines special "navigation software" and CT imaging to help doctors find suspicious lung masses. By knowing precisely where the mass is located, doctors can better reach it with a bronchoscope and take a tissue sample.

If you are diagnosed with lung cancer, your doctor will need to "stage" it (determine how advanced it is). Your treatments will depend on how far your lung cancer has spread, and whether you have small cell or non-small cell lung cancer.

Learn more about lung cancer treatment options at The Christ Hospital Health Network.