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Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer - Diagnosis

Any persistent cough or change in the nature of the cough, the appearance of blood-stained sputum, or unexplained breathlessness should prompt a person to seek medical advice. Often chest x-rays will then be performed and sputum may be sent for testing for cancer cells or infections, such as tuberculosis, which is not uncommon in Singapore. 

If the suspicion of cancer is high, or if the chest x-ray shows any abnormality, a special scan of the lungs, called a CT (computed tomography) scan may be performed to evaluate more accurately for presence of lung cancer. If this scan shows a suspicious mass, a biopsy may be recommended, where a small specimen from this mass is then obtained for examination under a microscope, to look for the presence of cancer cells.

In lung cancer, this biopsy can often be performed in a few different ways, such as passing a needle through the skin into the lung mass under X-ray guidance, or by performing a bronchoscopy examination, where a small tube is introduced through the mouth and into the lung. Small specimens from the suspicious lung mass can be removed for further examination. Alternatively, a biopsy sample may also be taken from the lymph nodes or other areas that the cancer has affected, such as the liver. 

After the diagnosis, further genetic tests may be performed on the cancer cells from the biopsy sample, which may help doctors decide which a suitable treatment for the cancer.

Lung function tests may be performed to determine how well the lungs are working and determine if it is safe to proceed with treatments such as surgery or radiotherapy to the lungs.

Once cancer is diagnosed, computerised tomography (CT) scans of the chest and liver may be performed to determine if the cancer has spread to other organs, such as the liver or adrenal gland, which is just above the kidneys on both sides. Occasionally, bone scans and CT scans of the brain are also required.

A lung function test, which involves blowing into a large cylinder, may be performed pre-operatively to determine the lung function prior to any surgery discussions. 

Lung Cancer - Preparing for surgery

Lung Cancer - Post-surgery care

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