Lung Cancer Symptoms and Diagnosis

The most crucial step in treating lung cancer is receiving an accurate diagnosis. Our cancer centers provide expert detection of lung cancer, which is imperative to assess the best and most effective therapies.

Our programs provide state-of-the-art screening methods, including low-dose CT of the chest as part of our multidisciplinary program.

  • Our lung cancer oncologists and specialists use leading-edge, minimally invasive technology for lung cancer diagnosis.
  • Pathologists identify the precise form of lung cancer, stage the extent of the disease and provide critical information to help you decide on a treatment you can feel good about.
  • Genetic testing can be performed to determine the best drug treatment based on the biology of an individual patient’s cancer.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of lung cancer is important. You can make an appointment with your doctor before the symptoms and condition worsen.

Lung Cancer Symptoms

Lung cancer symptoms can include:

  • A cough that does not go away or worsens
  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm)
  • Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing
  • Hoarseness in your voice
  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent or worsening cough
  • Chest pain, which might be worse when coughing or breathing in deeply
  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored mucus
  • Shoulder pain
  • Swelling in the face and arms
  • Wheezing
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Fatigue or feeling weak
  • Recurrent, long-lasting bronchitis and pneumonia

Lung Cancer Diagnosis

Diagnostic tests are chosen based on:

  • Medical history
  • Symptoms of lung cancer
  • Findings from a physical exam and tests results

Diagnostic imaging tests create pictures of the lungs which are useful in detecting lung cancer, determining if lung cancer has spread, or assessing whether treatment is working. The most common diagnostic imaging tests are:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan

Diagnostic procedures may be performed to collect and examine a piece of lung tissue or fluid for cancer. The most common diagnostic procedures are:

  • Bronchoscopy biopsy. A flexible tube is passed through the mouth or nose into the lungs so the doctor can see tumors and collect tissue samples if needed.
  • Endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS). A flexible tube fitted with an ultrasound device is passed down the windpipe into the chest to examine the lymph nodes and other structures and take biopsies if needed.
  • Endoscopic esophageal ultrasound (EUS). An endoscope is passed down the throat into the esophagus and into the chest to examine the lymph nodes and take biopsies if needed.
  • Mediastinoscopy and mediastinotomy. Allow the surgeon to examine and take samples from the lymph nodes in the area between the lungs (the mediastinum).
  • Thoracentesis. A needle is placed between the ribs to drain fluid which is later tested for cancer.
  • Thoracoscopy or video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) biopsy. A small incision is made in the chest and a thin tube is used to examine the space between the lungs and the chest wall. Small tumors on the lung or lining of the chest wall can be seen and pieces of tissue can be removed for further examination. Video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) is a new type of surgery that involves a small incision and the potential removal of cancer.
  • Sputum cytology. A sample of coughed-up mucus is examined under a microscope to see if there are cancer cells.
  • Fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy. A long, fine needle is used to remove potentially cancerous cells so they can be examined in a laboratory.
  • Open biopsy. An incision is made in the chest to obtain a tissue sample or remove cancer. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia.

Lung cancer screening and an early lung cancer diagnosis are critical. They can increase survival by as much as 20 percent.

To schedule an appointment with one of New Jersey’s best lung and thoracic cancer specialists, call 844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

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Lung & Thoracic Cancer Treatment & Care

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