News & Information
How is lung cancer diagnosed?
Since November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a good idea to stay informed, aware and involved – especially if you have friends or family who have been diagnosed with lung cancer, or if you think you could be at risk. Visit http://www.lungcanceralliance.org/ for a list of organizations that are fighting lung cancer this month, in all kinds of ways.
Lung cancer can be diagnosed through a variety of tests. Typically, you’ll visit your physician and get a biopsy. This procedure is the most common method for diagnosing cancer: during a biopsy, your doctor will surgically remove a small piece of tissue and examine it under the microscope to see if it contains any cancer cells.
A bronchoscopy is a diagnostic technique where the physician inserts a thin, lighted tube (bronchoscope) into your breathing passages. The tube helps the physician see any abnormalities, and also collect small amounts of cells for analysis.
If the doctor can’t reach the cells with the bronchoscope, he or she may insert a needle through your chest wall and withdraw a cell sample: either from lung tissue or from the pleura (the sac that surrounds the lungs). This procedure is called a needle aspiration or needle biopsy.
In certain cases, a surgical procedure called thoracotomy or thoracoscopy (cutting open the side of your chest to remove lung tissue) may be necessary. Don’t be too nervous, though – an invasive surgical or diagnostic procedure may not be required. If you are coughing up sputum (thick liquid), your doctor may simply be able to examine the liquid and see if it contains cancerous cells.
If you’re a smoker, have a family cancer history, or have been exposed to second-hand smoke or carcinogens, you could be at risk for a lung cancer diagnosis. Don’t wait – take out a cancer insurance policy this November and make sure you’ll be protected down the road. CancerPlans.com carries a variety of lung cancer insurance policies designed especially for smokers. Quote top carriers and apply for insurance online today.