Diagnosis of Thoracic Cancers

This page is for lung, mediastinal and thymic cancers. See our sections on esophageal cancer and mesothelioma for information on those conditions.

If your doctor thinks that you could have lung cancer or another cancer in the chest, 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, UMGCCC has the following diagnostic tools to confirm the presence and extent of it:

  • Diagnostic imaging (MRI, CT or PET scan)
    • PET scans determine if the cancer has spread (metastasized) and to where
  • Biopsy (CT-guided biopsy, endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS)-guided biopsy, fine needle aspiration (FNA), cytology)
  • Thoracic pathology – Pathologists who specialize in cancers of the chest will 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 surgical staging with techniques such as video assisted thoracoscopy (VATS), laparoscopy and mediastinoscopy

To make an appointment with a thoracic oncologist at UMGCCC, call 410-328-6366.