What are the symptoms of lung cancer?
You may not have any symptoms, which is one reason lung cancer is difficult to diagnose in early stages. If you do have symptoms, they may include:
- Chronic cough
- Constant chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Recurring lung infections, such as pneumonia or bronchitis
- Bloody or rust-colored sputum
- Swelling of the neck and face
- Pain and weakness in the shoulder, arm or hand
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
How is lung cancer diagnosed?
Because lung cancer often has no symptoms, the first sign of it may be a suspicious spot on an X-ray or other imaging test. Your doctor may then refer you to us for diagnosis and treatment. We’ll conduct a physical exam and review your health and family history, and then begin testing to diagnose lung cancer and help plan its treatment. The most common tests for diagnosing lung cancer include:
- Chest X-rays
- Imaging tests, such as computed tomography (CT or CAT) scans, positive emission tomography (PET) scans, bone scans, magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound
- Sputum cytology, to study mucus or phlegm cells
- Thoracentesis, to remove fluid from the chest wall and check for cancer cells
- Bronchoscopy, examining the bronchi using a thin flexible tube with a tiny camera and removing a small sample for biopsy
- Fine-needle aspiration, using a small needle to remove a small amount of tissue for biopsy
Once lung cancer has been confirmed, you will need additional testing to tailor your treatment plan. Everyone treated at Miami Cancer Institute for lung cancer receives molecular analysis to identify the molecular subtype of the cancer and any markers or characteristics that can be used to target the cancer with powerful therapies that can seek and destroy cancer cells.
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