Stages of Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer
After lung cancer has been diagnosed, tests are done to find out if cancer cells have spread within the lungs or to other parts of the body.
The process used to find out if cancer has spread within the lungs or to
other parts of the body is called staging. The information gathered from the
staging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know
the stage in order to plan treatment. Some of the tests used to diagnose
non-small cell lung cancer are also used to stage the disease. (See the General
Information section.) Other tests and procedures that may be used in the
staging process include the following:
- Laboratory tests: Medical procedures that test samples of tissue, blood,
urine, or other substances in the body. These tests help to diagnose disease,
plan and check treatment, or monitor the disease over time.
- Chest x-ray: An x-ray of the organs and bones
inside the chest. An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the
body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body.
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): A procedure
that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed
pictures of areas inside the body, such as the brain. This procedure is also
called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI).
- Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS): A procedure in
which an endoscope (a thin, lighted tube) is inserted into the body. The
endoscope is used to bounce high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) off internal
tissues or organs and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues
called a sonogram. This procedure is also called endosonography. EUS may be
used to guide fine needle aspiration biopsy of the lung, lymph nodes, or other
- Lymph node biopsy: The removal of all or part of
a lymph node. A pathologist views the tissue under a microscope to look for
- Mediastinoscopy: A surgical procedure to look at
the organs, tissues, and lymph nodes between the lungs for abnormal areas. An
incision (cut) is made at the top of the breastbone and an endoscope (a thin,
lighted tube) is inserted into the chest. Tissue and lymph node samples may be
taken for biopsy.