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Lung Cancer Symptoms & Diagnosis


If you have any of these do not assume it is due to lung cancer. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:

  • A cough that doesn't go away and worsens over time
  • Constant chest pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath, wheezing, or hoarseness
  • Repeated problems with pneumonia or bronchitis
  • Swelling of the neck and face
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Fatigue


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will also ask about:

  • Smoking history
  • Exposure to environmental and occupational substances
  • Family history of cancer

Tests may include:

  • Chest x-ray —a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, especially bones
  • Sputum cytology—a test that examines of a sample of mucus from the lungs
  • Spiral CT—a special type of x-ray of the lungs
  • Biopsy —removal of a sample of lung tissue to be tested for cancer cells. Methods include:
    • Bronchoscopy —a thin, lighted tube inserted into the mouth or nose and through the windpipe to look into the breathing passages; cells or tissue samples are collected
    • Needle aspiration —a needle inserted through the chest into the tumor to remove a sample of tissue
    • Thoracentesis —use of a needle to remove a sample of the fluid around the lungs to check for cancer cells
    • Thoracotomy —surgery to open the chest and examine lung tissue

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2023 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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