Lung Cancer

Published by Ken Dunn
Dunway Enterprises

Diagnosing Lung Cancer

http://lung-cancer.dunway.com

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To help find the cause of symptoms, the doctor evaluates a person's medical history, smoking history, exposure to environmental and occupational substances, and family history of cancer.

The doctor also performs a physical exam and may order a chest x-ray and other tests.

If lung cancer is suspected, sputum cytology (the microscopic examination of cells obtained from a deep-cough sample of mucus in the lungs) is a simple test that may be useful in detecting lung cancer. To confirm the presence of lung cancer, the doctor must examine tissue from the lung.

A biopsy - the removal of a small sample of tissue for examination under a microscope by a pathologist - can show whether a person has cancer.

A number of procedures may be used to obtain this tissue:

  • Bronchoscopy. The doctor puts a bronchoscope (a thin, lighted tube) into the mouth or nose and down through the windpipe to look into the breathing passages. Through this tube, the doctor can collect cells or small samples of tissue.

  • Needle aspiration. A needle is inserted through the chest into the tumour to remove a sample of tissue.

  • Thoracentesis. Using a needle, the doctor removes a sample of the fluid that surrounds the lungs to check for cancer cells.

  • Thoracotomy. Surgery to open the chest is sometimes needed to diagnose lung cancer. This procedure is a major operation performed in a hospital.

Explanatory Terms.

x-ray A type of high-energy radiation. In low doses, x-rays are used to diagnose diseases by making pictures of the inside of the body. In high doses, x-rays are used to treat cancer.

sputum (SPYOO-tum) Mucus and other matter brought up from the lungs by coughing.

biopsy (BY-op-see) The removal of cells or tissues for examination by a pathologist. The pathologist may study the tissue under a microscope or perform other tests on the cells or tissue. When only a sample of tissue is removed, the procedure is called an incisional biopsy. When an entire lump or suspicious area is removed, the procedure is called an excisional biopsy. When a sample of tissue or fluid is removed with a needle, the procedure is called a needle biopsy, core biopsy, or fine-needle aspiration.

pathologist (pa-THOL-o-jist) A doctor who identifies diseases by studying cells and tissues under a microscope.

bronchoscopy (bron-KOS-ko-pee) A procedure in which a thin, lighted tube is inserted through the nose or mouth. This allows examination of the inside of the trachea and bronchi (air passages that lead to the lung), as well as the lung. Bronchoscopy may be used to detect cancer or to perform some treatment procedures.

bronchoscope (BRON-ko-skope) A thin, lighted tube used to examine the inside of the trachea and bronchi, the air passages that lead to the lungs.

aspiration (as-per-AY-shun) Removal of fluid or tissue through a needle. Also, the accidental breathing in of food or fluid into the lungs.

thoracentesis (thor-a-sen-TEE-sis) Removal of fluid from the pleural cavity through a needle inserted between the ribs.

thoracotomy (thor-a-KAH-toe-mee) An operation to open the chest.

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