After lung cancer has been discovered in the body, there are certain tests that are usually carried out to know the extent of the spread, whether it is still within the lungs, or it has spread to other parts of the body. The process used to determine the spreading extent of cancer within the lung or other parts of the body is called staging. It is important to know the stage of a lung cancer so as to be able to plan an appropriate treatment.
The following tests below can be used in staging process in order to know the spreading extent of the cancer.
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): this involves the use of a magnet, radio waves, and a computer system to make series of picture of affected areas inside the body.
- CT (Computed Tomography): this test also takes series of detailed pictures of areas in the body such as the brain, and abdomen. The pictures are taken with the aid of an x-ray machine connected to a computer system.
- PET Scan (Positron Emission Scan): this test is used to find malignant tumor cells in the body. A radioactive glucose is being injected into the body so as to make the tumor cells show up brighter in the picture when the PET scan rotates around the body.
- Radionuclide Bone Scan: This test is used to check if there are rapidly dividing cells, such as cancer cells in the bone. A small radioactive substance is being injected into the vein so as to enable the scanner detect the cancer cells effectively.
- Pulmonary Function Test: This test is used to see the functioning condition of the lungs. It is used to measure the amount of oxygen taken in by the lungs, and the amount of carbon IV oxide given off during breathing process.
- Endoscopic Ultrasound: This test involves the insertion of an endoscope into the body.an endoscope is a thin-tube like instrument with a light and a lens. There is a probe at the end of the endoscope which is used to bounce high energy sound waves off internal tissues and organs to produce echoes which forms picture of the body tissue.
- Mediastinoscopy: A mediastinoscope is a thin-tube like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. This is a test is a surgical test which involves looking at organs, tissues, and lymph nodes between the lungs for abnormal areas. In this test an incision is made at the top of the breast bone and a mediastinoscope is inserted into the chest.
- Lymph Node Biopsy: This test involves the removal of part or all of a lymph node. The lymph node tissue is viewed under a microscope to check for cancer cells.