Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) involves the growth of cancerous cells within lung tissues. Diagnostic tests for this form of cancer include physical exams, lab tests, imaging tests, and biopsies.
There are several types of NSCLC, including adenocarcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
Individuals experiencing symptoms of NSCLC may first visit a doctor for a physical exam and medical history. They may then undergo blood testing for NSCLC markers. If blood testing indicates NSCLC, imaging tests and biopsy can confirm the diagnosis.
This article discusses the process of receiving an NSCLC diagnosis from symptoms to treatment options.
People who notice signs of NSCLC should visit a doctor for a physical exam. These signs
- chest pain
- difficulty breathing and swallowing
- coughing up blood
- an ongoing or persistent cough that may get worse
- appetite and weight loss
- swelling in the face or neck
During a physical exam, a medical professional will determine which symptoms are present. They may also check for any growths or lumps that may indicate NSCLC.
As part of this initial assessment, a doctor may also evaluate a person’s medical history. Individuals may be at higher risk of developing NSCLC if they have:
- a history of smoking
- exposure to secondhand smoke
- exposure to hazardous substances like arsenic or asbestos
- exposure to radiation
- family members with lung cancer
- certain health conditions, including HIV
Anyone at risk for NSCLC should keep a close eye on their lung health. In some cases, a healthcare professional
If someone notices NSCLC symptoms, they should visit a doctor as soon as possible. Receiving an early NSCLC diagnosis can
If a doctor suspects an individual has NSCLC, they will order further lab testing. Some lab tests for NSCLC
- blood tests
- urine tests
- sputum cytology
During the sputum cytology test, a pathologist examines a sample of mucus that a person coughs up. A pathologist looks at this sample under a microscope to determine whether cancer cells are present.
Finally, a doctor may also recommend thoracentesis. In this procedure, a medical professional takes a sample of fluid located between the lung and the chest. They then use a microscope to look for cancer cells in this sample.
Once a doctor diagnoses NSCLC, they may also recommend a urine test to
Certain imaging tests can also help in the process of an NSCLC diagnosis. These tests
The first area where doctors perform imaging is typically the chest. But medical professionals may also perform these tests on the upper abdomen and head. These imaging tests may show a doctor where tumors are and whether they have spread beyond the lungs.
For doctors to
A tissue biopsy
The treatment for NSCLC depends on the individual, the NSCLC subtype, and the cancer stage. Some of the
- surgery to remove cancerous tissue
- radiation therapy
- targeted therapy
Some individuals with NSCLC may decide to join a clinical trial. These trials investigate emerging treatments that are not yet available to the public.
People living with NSCLC should speak with their doctor to determine which treatment is best for them. A healthcare professional can provide individual recommendations for treating NSCLC.
Initial diagnostic evaluations involve a physical examination and medical history. If they suspect NSCLC, doctors will perform lab tests, imaging tests, and biopsies. These tests help to confirm the presence of NSCLC as well as the cancer stage.
People should speak with their doctor if they think they are experiencing symptoms of NSCLC, or to determine their risk of developing NSCLC. Receiving an early NSCLC diagnosis may improve someone’s recovery outlook.