Carolinas HealthCare System

In addition to a physical exam and taking an extensive medical history – including smoking history, any exposure to environmental or occupational toxins, and family history of cancer – your healthcare provider will have you undergo imaging of the chest and the rest of the body. This may include a CT (computerized tomography) scan, which produces detailed images of the body, a PET (positron emission tomography) scan, which creates computerized images of how the organs and tissues in the body are working, and an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan of the brain. All of these images give information about the potential locations of cancer.

If cancer is suspected, your healthcare provider will order a biopsy of the abnormal finding. There are several types of biopsy procedures. A fine-needle aspiration (FNA) uses a thin, hollow needle to remove cells from a mass. A core-needle biopsy can obtain more tissue than FNA. Surgical biopsy removes tissue through a surgical procedure. Thoracentesis involves removing fluid from space around the lungs through a hollow needle. Sputum analysis detects abnormal cells in mucus and saliva. The cancer team at Levine Cancer Institute uses the following minimally invasive diagnostic techniques to obtain one of these biopsy samples:

  • Endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) guided biopsy
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Electromagnetic navigation biopsy
  • Percutaneous CT guided biopsy
  • Transesophageal biopsy
  • Mediastinoscopy
  • Thoracoscopy

Based on your individual needs, your healthcare provider can determine the best diagnostic method for you.