The following tests are all used to diagnose lung cancer and your doctor may arrange for you to have one or more of them at hospital.

Chest X-ray

Radiation is used to capture a single image of your chest to detect if any tumours are present.

Sputum cytology examination

A sample of sputum is examined under a microscope to determine if abnormal cells are present.


In this test, a doctor examines the inside of the lung’s airways and takes photographs and cell samples (biopsies). The test is usually done as an out-patient treatment, but occasionally a general anaesthetic is given and an overnight stay in hospital may be necessary.

CT scan (CAT or computer scan)

An X-ray is used to scan the lung at different angles to build a detailed picture of the size and position of the cancer.

Further tests

If the tests show you have lung cancer, your doctor may want to do further tests to see if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. The results of these tests will help your doctor to decide on the best type of treatment for you.

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