A series of tests are available and necessary to correctly diagnose lung cancer. If lung cancer is identified, further testing is typically done to type and stage the cancer, which then determines the treatment options.
Chest x-rays have been shown ineffective to screen for lung cancer but for some, a problem in the lungs may first be identified by chest x-ray. A CT (computed tomography) scan is the preferred diagnostic test for lung cancer.
Other tests used to diagnose include Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET). Some machines combine PET and CT procedures into one. PET/CT scans tend to take less time to administer and provide a more accurate picture of what is going on inside the body.
To determine if a problem area is indeed lung cancer, a biopsy will be performed. There are a number of ways that tissue or fluid can be obtained by biopsy. The type of procedure is typically determined by the size of the tumor and where it is located in the lungs. Surgery can also be used to obtain tissue for a biopsy.