The diagnostic tests and procedures that are conducted to examine the affected lungs help to determine the type, stage and severity of the cancer.
Initially, the doctor will carry out a physical exam to determine any unusual lump or mass throughout the body. He or she will also check for general signs of cancer and inquire about your health habits, smoking and drinking habits, medical and genetic history of cancer or any other illness associated with it. Later on, he will ask you to get a chest x-ray done to look for any tumour or spot in your lung.
If your doctor notices something suspicious, he or she might ask you undergo more imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT) scan, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan, Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan and Bone scan. If these tests confirm the presence of malignancy, your doctor might ask for more tests such as bronchoscopy, endobronchial ultrasound, endoscopic esophageal ultrasound and mediastinoscopy to check how far it has spread.
For your better understanding of how these tests work, we have explained a few of them.
• Chest X-ray : It will help to determine the exact location, where cancer has originated and presents a picture of the organs and bones inside the chest.
• CT scan (CAT scan) of the brain, chest, and abdomen : It is a procedure that helps to obtain a detailed picture of areas inside the body, taken from different angles. This displays a better picture of the organs and tissues affected by the malignancy.
• Sputum cytology : Sputum (mucus coughed up from the lungs) is checked under microscope for cancerous cells.
• Bronchoscopy : This test involves examining the inside of the trachea and large airways in the lung for abnormal areas. A sample of tissues may be obtained to be checked under a microscope for possible cancer signs.
Read more articles on Small Cell Lung Cancer.