Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Lung Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Less-Invasive Method Finds Stage of Lung Cancer

Study Shows Patients May Not Need Surgical Procedure to Learn the Stage of Their Lung Cancer

Comparing Staging Techniques continued...

The new strategy, he says, also reduces the number of unnecessary incisions into the chest wall (thoracotomies). The number of unnecessary thoracotomies was 21 (18%) of the surgical staging group compared to nine (7%) of the ultrasound-first group.

Complication rates were similar. Most common, the researchers found, was persistent hoarseness.

"'The conclusion is, if you stage patients according to the new strategy and do endosonography first, then surgical staging, you significantly detect more spread of the disease," he says, while reducing the number of unnecessary chest incisions.

Second Opinion

The expertise of the doctor performing the ultrasound is a critical factor, says Mark D. Iannettoni, MD, MBA, department chair of cardiothoracic surgery and executive director of the Heart and Vascular Center, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, who wrote an editorial to accompany the study.

The ultrasound techniques used to stage lung cancer, he tells WebMD, are typically done by different doctors -- either a gastroenterologist, pulmonologist, or thoracic (chest) surgeon.

The findings of the new study, he tells WebMD, may eventually be good news for some patients. If the ultrasound is positive, the doctor can decide on treatment. But if it's negative, ''it still needs to be staged surgically."

"This is the first step," he says of the study, ''in collecting enough data to show eventually you won't have to use surgical staging at all."

But he says the surgical staging will remain ''the gold standard" for now, until more data is in and until all patients are cared for at specialized centers, increasing the likelihood of doctors well-versed in the ultrasound procedures.

For patients hoping to undergo ultrasound first, he says a doctor's skill remains crucial. "You have to make sure you have someone who has enough expertise so that the results are reliable and reproducible." That means finding a doctor who specializes, performing perhaps three or four of the ultrasound techniques each day, Iannettoni says.

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

Broken cigarette
Do you know the myths from the facts?
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
Lung Cancer Risks Myths and Facts
cancer fighting foods
Improving Lung Cancer Survival Targeted Therapy
Lung Cancer Surprising Differences Between Sexes
Pets Improve Your Health
Vitamin D
Lung Cancer Surgery Options