Diagnosis

Lung Cancer Diagnosis

Our highly experienced team of radiologists and pathologists uses a broad range of diagnostic tools to quickly and accurately provide a diagnosis in the most minimally invasive way possible.

John Muir Health was the first Northern California medical institution to use EBUS, an innovative, minimally invasive diagnostic procedure.

Imaging Tests

A number of imaging tests are available to pinpoint the cancer and determine if it has spread.

Chest X-Ray ­– Typically this is the first imaging test to look for any mass or spot on the lungs.

Computed Tomography (CT) Scan – A computer-enhanced X-ray especially useful for detecting smaller tumors, enlarged lymph nodes, or metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan – This non-invasive procedure may be used in conjunction with a CT scan and helps us track any abnormal metabolic activity within the body.

Magnetic Resonance imaging (MRI) – This high-powered imaging tool is especially useful in finding cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

Biopsy Procedures -- If imaging tests indicate a cancer may be present, tissue samples are taken and examined to help with the diagnosis and staging of the cancer. The location of the tumor often determines which biopsy procedure is used, with our goal being to use the most minimally invasive technique possible to get the necessary tissue sample.

Endobronchial Ultrasound System (EBUS) ­– This highly advanced minimally invasive procedure uses a bronchoscope hooked up to an ultrasound system for deeper exploration of the chest cavity without making an incision.

Bronchoscopy – A minimally invasive procedure involving the use of a flexible, camera-equipped tube to explore the lungs and sample tissue for microscopic examination.

Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy™ (ENB) ­– Another highly innovative minimally invasive bronchoscopic procedure that allows access deep inside the lungs to sample lesions and lymph nodes without having to make any incisions.

CT-Guided Biopsy – For this minimally invasive procedure, a radiologist uses a CT-scan to guide a core (hollow) needle directly to the suspicious lung nodule and sample the tissue for further evaluation.

Thoracoscopy – Another minimally invasive procedure that uses a thorascope to explore the area between the lung and the chest wall (pleural space) through a small incision in the chest.

MediastinoscopyAnother minimally invasive procedure involving the insertion of a scope to sample the lymph nodes, which will help us determine the stage of the cancer.

Thoracotomy – When the minimally invasive procedures fail to provide adequate information, surgeons sometimes – but rarely – must resort to opening the chest to view the lungs and make an accurate diagnosis.

Learn about how we treat lung cancer