ZocdocAnswersHow do they test for lung cancer?

Question

How do they test for lung cancer?

I'm 44 years old and have been a smoker for twenty years. Is it possible to be tested for lung cancer? Should I not be worried if I don't have any breathing problems or symptoms?

Answer

Unfortunately, there is no good test for screening for lung cancer. This subject has been actively investigated and, although there are many tests that are used to diagnose a lung cancer, in the absence of symptoms concerning for lung cancer these tests are generally not recommended. So for example, there is no test for lung cancer in the same way that we use mammography for detecting breast cancer or colonoscopy for colon cancer. If you do have any symptoms of concern, which would include weight loss, fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, or bloody cough, then you should immediately mention these to your doctor, as these may require investigation and working up for lung cancer. However, you should also consider quitting smoking. Not only will this decrease your risk of cancer, it will also decrease your risk of other lung diseases and heart diseases. If you have any interest in quitting or cutting down, you should make an appointment with your primary care doctor. There are many resources available to you to help you quit, including counseling and other community programs and multiple different medications. Your doctor can explain all of these options to you and help you decide on a program that will maximize your chances of successfully quitting.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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