Tests are used to screen for different types of cancer.
Some screening tests are used because they have been shown to be helpful both in finding cancers early and decreasing the chance of dying from these cancers. Other tests are used because they have been shown to find cancer in some people; however, it has not been proven in clinical trials that use of these tests will decrease the risk of dying from cancer.
When you find out you have lung cancer, it can be overwhelming. Use this list of questions to help you get the answers you’ll need to make decisions. It’s also a good idea to bring a family member or close friend with you for support.
What kind of lung cancer do I have?
Where is the cancer and how far has it spread? What stage is my cancer?
What treatment do you recommend? Why?
What are the side effects? What would help make them less of a problem?
Can you remove my lung cancer ...
Scientists study screening tests to find those with the fewest risks and most benefits. Cancer screening trials also are meant to show whether early detection (finding cancer before it causes symptoms) decreases a person's chance of dying from the disease. For some types of cancer, finding and treating the disease at an early stage may result in a better chance of recovery.
Clinical trials that study cancer screening methods are taking place in many parts of the country. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
Three screening tests have been studied to see if they decrease the risk of dying from lung cancer.
The following screening tests have been studied to see if they decrease the risk of dying from lung cancer:
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.
Sputum cytology: Sputum cytology is a procedure in which a sample of sputum (mucus that is coughed up from the lungs) is viewed under a microscope to check for cancer cells.
Low-dose spiral CT scan (LDCT scan): A procedure that uses low-dose radiation to make a series of very detailed pictures of areas inside the body. It uses an x-ray machine that scans the body in a spiral path. The pictures are made by a computer linked to the x-ray machine. This procedure is also called a low-dose helical CT scan.
Screening with low-dose spiral CT scans has been shown to decrease the risk of dying from lung cancer in heavy smokers.