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4 Important Tests for Diagnosing Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

By eHealthIQ
Reviewed: September 28, 2016

Maintaining good health is a lot easier than trying to regain it once it is gone. Practically speaking, this means being able to identify the symptoms of dangerous illnesses like cancer as early on as possible. Few forms of cancer are as widespread and potentially fatal as non-small cell lung cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, between 80% – 85% percent of cancers of the lungs are classified as non-small cell tumors. This indicates that a large number of people are at risk of developing this ailment, and it’s thus of prime importance for individuals to learn what the signs tend to be. This article will highlight some symptoms-as well as four important tests-that can help people to identify this disease early.

What Characterizes Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer?

Non small cell lung cancer growths are generally organized into three basic types.


These kinds of cancers often form from the lung cells that produce mucus. Estimated to be responsible for close to 40% of lung cancer diagnoses, they tend to grow mostly in the outer areas of lung tissue.

Squamous Cell Carcinomas

These account for about 30% of lung cancer cases, and usually begin as the airway lining squamous cells. Long linked to smoking, squamous tumors tend to begin in the center of the lungs.

Large Cell Carcinomas

Making up about 15% of cancer instances is the large cell variety. Large cell growths have been known to spread and multiply quickly, and are seen in all areas of the lung.

What are Some Symptoms?

The earlier non small cell lung cancer is diagnosed, the better the odds of survival for victims of the disease. Because of this, it’s vital for people at risk of getting this illness to know what some warning signs may be. Included are:

  • Bone and joint pain
  • Chest pain
  • Unusual and mysterious weight loss
  • General weakness
  • Coughing up bloody mucus
  • Unexplained and ongoing coughing

What are Four Key Tests To Help Identify It?

Having accurate information about which type of non small cell lung cancer may be forming can make all of the difference. The following four diagnostic tests are widely used by many patients and medical professionals to track down the cause of symptoms.

Sputum Cytology

This test involves the patient providing a mucus sample by coughing up sputum. The material is then studied under a microscope to identify any cancerous cells.


This test searches for growths in the lung airways. A special flexible fiber optic tool is inserted into the airways to inspect and sample affected tissues.

CT Scan

A computed tomography scan uses x-ray technology to scan cross sections of the body. This method can show the shape, area, and size of various lung tumors.

MRI Scan

The magnetic resonance imaging test comes in handy for finding tumors in the softer tissues of the body.

This is not a complete list of all available tests, but it provides readers a starting point for catching symptoms early and getting the help they may need.



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