Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common of the two types of lung cancer representing 80% of all diagnoses. Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is the less common of the two accounting for the remaining 20%. This disease develops when the cells of the lung start to grow in a rapid and out of control way. This eventually leads to the formation of a cancerous tumour which destroys the surrounding lung cells. There are a number of symptoms related to NSCLC including a constant cough, chest pains and feeling tired all of the time. If you notice these symptoms or have any other reason to suspect you have this cancer you should go see your doctor right away. They will then be able to perform a number of tests for NSCLC which I will be discussing in this article.
1) PHYSICAL EXAMINATION:- A physical examination will begin with a few questions about your overall health. They will then ask you about any symptoms you have been experiencing. They are also likely to ask you about your smoking habits. If the doctor believes you may have NSCLC after the physical exam they are likely to request that you participate in further lung cancer tests.
2) CHEST X-RAY:- If after the physical examination your doctor believes you may be at risk for NSCLC they may suggest an x-ray of your chest. This will allow them to take a picture of the lungs so that they can look for any abnormalities or potential tumours. Depending upon what the x-ray reveals your doctor may follow up with further non-small cell lung cancer tests or start you on a treatment plan.
3) COMPUTERISED TOMOGRAPHY (CT) SCAN:- A CT scan is similar to an x-ray but takes multiple pictures of your lungs. This then allows a three dimensional image of the inside of your lungs to be built. If a chest x-ray revealed any abnormalities a CT scan may be used to allow your doctor to investigate them further. Following the CT scan your doctor will either schedule another type of test or start discussing treatments with you.
4) BRONCHOSCOPY:- This non-small cell lung cancer test allows your doctor to look at the insides of your airways using a bronchoscope (a small, flexible tube containing either a camera or an eyepiece). If a chest x-ray or CT scan have revealed any abnormalities on your lungs a bronchoscopy will allow your doctor to have a look at them first hand. The bronchoscope can also take tissue samples from any abnormalities if necessary. These samples can then be tested in a laboratory for the presence of cancerous cells.
Non-small cell lung cancer is believed to cause approximately 40,000 deaths each year in the UK. Therefore, if you have any reason to be suspicious go see your doctor right away and ask them about NSCLC testing. I hope this article has given you a greater insight into the testing process and let you know what to expect.
Whilst every intention has been made to make this article accurate and informative, it is intended for general information only. Lung cancer is a very serious, life threatening condition and you should discuss any concerns, treatments or lifestyle changes fully with your doctor.