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Lung cancer is not difficult to diagnose, but it is important to get a diagnosis quickly in order to determine the best treatment options. At University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, we understand that streamlined access to care is important to our patients, and we are committed to scheduling a patient consultation within a week of the request.

If your doctor thinks that you could have lung cancer or you are at high risk for developing lung cancer, he or she will likely order a chest X-ray or CT scan. You may also have a test of your phlegm, called a sputum test.

If these tests show that you could have cancer, UM Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center uses several diagnostic tools to confirm the presence and extent of the cancer.

  • Diagnostic Imaging - CT, MRI or PET scans aid in the diagnostic process, both in visualizing the cancer and in determining if it has spread and, if so, to where.
  • Tissue Biopsy – Tissue samples are taken for analysis. The procedure will vary based on the type and location of the cancer. Technologies such as CT scans and endobronchial ultrasounds may be used to guide the biopsy procedures.
  • Thoracic Pathology – Pathologists who specialize in cancers of the chest look at tissue samples under a microscope to determine if the cells are cancerous. If they are, they will also examine the tumor’s characteristics. This information will help your team of physicians decide on the best treatment options for you.
  • Minimally Invasive Video-Assisted Techniques – Procedures such as thoracoscopy, laparoscopy, mediastinoscopy and bronchoscopy use a thin, lighted tube with a camera to inspect the cancerous area or to guide a biopsy.
  • Liquid Biopsies - In some cases as a complement to other tests, we can take a simple blood draw to analyze tumor information.