Lung Cancer Diagnosis
Although most lung cancers do not cause symptoms until they have spread, some of the most common early symptoms may be:
Since most people with early lung cancer do not have any symptoms, only about 15% of lung cancers are found in the early stages. These early cases are often found incidentally, when a chest X-ray, CT scan, or other test are being done for another reason.
If the doctors suspect that a patient is at risk for lung cancer, they will most likely discuss their medical history and perform a physical exam. Suspected lung masses are usually first evaluated through a chest X-ray or a CT scan. These tests can provide information regarding the size and location of a lung mass but most often they cannot tell if the abnormality is benign or cancerous. To characterize the lung mass further, the physician may want to order a PET/CT scan. When lung cancer is found, accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment could save the patients life.
Physicians utilize PET/CT scans to characterize solitary pulmonary nodules and other lung masses as benign or malignant.