Thoracic (Lung Cancer) Oncology

Lung Cancer (Thoracic Cancer) Diagnosis

If you have early stage thoracic or lung cancer, you may not notice any concerning symptoms. In these cases, your doctor may find signs of lung cancer during a test or X-ray for a different condition. 

Symptoms of Lung Cancer 

As lung cancer progresses, though, you may experience difficulty breathing or chest pain, develop a constant cough, or cough up blood. If you experience symptoms like these, it is important to see your doctor quickly. Your doctor will discuss your general health and family history, and perform a physical exam to check for signs of wheezing or fluid in your lungs. 

If these symptoms pertain to you, contact your primary care physician.

Diagnosing Lung Cancer  

Armed with this basic information from your doctor, our thoracic oncology experts at the Comprehensive Cancer Center can determine the most cutting-edge and effective way to diagnose with accuracy what your condition is, and how advanced it is. Using a multidisciplinary approach, with different specialists offering their expert opinions on the particulars of your diagnosis, you will receive a personalized treatment plan that encompasses all aspects of your treatment.

Waiting to find out your diagnosis can be nerve-wracking and difficult. We understand, and do everything we can to minimize your wait. On the first day you visit us, we will determine what diagnostic tests you need, perform them, and offer you a diagnosis before you leave.

The diagnostic methods we use at the Cancer Center include:

Bronchoscopy

In this procedure, your specialist inserts a thin tube through your mouth or nose into your lungs. Generally, the tube has a light and a camera attached to it to give your pulmonologist a detailed look at your airways. In some cases, your specialist will also perform a biopsy during this procedure, which removes tissue from your lungs to examine them for lung cancer under a microscope. 

Learn more details about bronchoscopy

Lung Cancer or Thoracic Biopsy

In a biopsy, your lung cancer specialist removes tissue from your lungs to examine them closely under a microscope for signs of cancer. We use a variety of methods to perform a biopsy, including: 

  • Computed Tomography (CT)-directed biopsy – CT technology combines powerful computers with X-rays to produce a very detailed image of your chest and upper abdominal organs. In this procedure, your specialist uses CT technology to guide a needle directly to the affected area of your lungs and remove tissue for further examination.
  • Fine needle biopsy – In this procedure, your specialist uses a long, thin needle to draw fluid or tissue from the lung or lymph node to examine for signs of lung cancer.

Lung Cancer Imaging

If other diagnostic tests indicate the presence of malignant, or cancerous, cells, then our specialists may want to perform additional imaging tests to determine the stage of your lung cancer. The stage of your cancer means how advanced it is, and whether it has spread to any other parts of your body. Our specialists use the information about the stage of your cancer to determine an effective treatment plan.

These imaging tests can include: 

  • Chest X-ray – An X-ray can show if you have tumors or fluid in your lungs. Learn more about chest X-rays
  • Thoracic CT scan – The CT scan can help your specialist pinpoint affected areas in your lungs with better accuracy than just an X-ray alone. Learn more about thoracic CT scans
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan – This scan not only shows an image of your lungs, but also demonstrates how well your lungs are working. A PET scan helps your specialists determine how advanced your lung cancer is. Learn more about lung PET scans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – This test uses powerful magnets and computers to create a detailed picture of your brain, or other organs. An MRI helps your specialists determine whether your lung cancer is spreading to other areas of the body, including the brain. Learn more about chest MRI.

Quick Reference

Comprehensive Cancer Center

1st Floor Information Desk
336-713-6979
Appointments 336-716-WAKE
Toll-Free 888-716-WAKE

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Last Updated: 11-19-2014
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.