Lung cancer is one of the most dangerous diseases with an unfavorable prognosis. Therefore, it is very important to timely detect it. Once the tumor is detected, a patient will undergo diagnostic tests for the clarification of its location, the presence of metastases, genetic and molecular specificities. The high-precision diagnostics allows the doctor to better plan the treatment, thereby ensuring its high efficiency.
Is it possible to detect lung cancer early?
Lung cancer can be detected with X-ray or low-dose CT scan. The recent researches have shown that X-ray examinations almost do not influence the patient's survival. Therefore, only computed tomography can be used for preventive examination. In developed countries, it is carried out once a year in patients who are over 55 years old, who smoke or quitted smoking less than 15 years ago.
Most patients do not undergo lung cancer screening. They see a doctor only after the onset of symptoms. The main signs are:
- Non-productive cough
- Thoracic pain, which worsens on breathing in
- Ragged breathing
- Weight loss, poor appetite, fatigue and weakness
Most types of lung cancers, which are detected only after the onset of symptoms, cannot be treated surgically. By this time, the disease is usually in a far advanced stage.
The following tests are mostly used to detect lung tumors:
The patient visits a hospital either after the onset of symptoms, or after the detection of a tumor-like formation during an X-ray or low-dose CT scan. After that, he is prescribed the standard computed tomography with the introduction of a contrast agent. This is the main method, which allows the doctor to detect the primary tumor, to clarify its location, size, to detect enlarged lymph nodes.
Material sampling for analysis
Lung cancer diagnosis should be confirmed within the laboratory. This requires the detection of cancer cells or obtaining tumor tissue for analysis.
The material for cytological examination can be obtained as follows:
- Sputum sampling, which the patient collects 3 days in a row, in the morning
- Bronchial lavage, if sputum cannot be sampled
- Pleural puncture, which is performed if the fluid accumulates in the pleural cavity (it is pumped out with a needle, which the doctor inserts between the ribs)
A tumor sample for analysis can be obtained as a result of a biopsy. The method of its performance depends on the location of the tumor. The doctors usually use a thin needle and perform aspiration. Such material is sent for cytological examination. For histological examination, the material is taken using a thicker needle, while a tissue column remains inside of it after the insertion.
A biopsy needle can be inserted as follows:
- Through the esophagus or trachea during an endoscopic examination
- By means of bronchoscopy, if the neoplasm is located in the area, which is accessible for the endoscope (closer to the large bronchi)
- Through the skin of the thorax, usually under the guidance of computed tomography
- During diagnostic thoracoscopy – a minimally invasive operation, which allows the doctor to assess the spread of the tumor process
The type of lung cancer can be determined according to the results of the histological examination of a tumor sample. It influences on the selection of treatment tactics. According to the information about the histological type and spread of the tumor process, a decision is made on the feasibility of surgery and the application of conservative treatment regimens.
German clinics carry out molecular tests in order to determine the best treatment option for lung cancer. These tests can determine the following aspects:
- 20% of patients have changes in the EGFR and KRAS genes
- 5% of patients have ALK changes
- 5% of cases are characterized by BRAF mutations
- 5% of cases are characterized by the restructuring of ROS1 and RET genes
In the case of detection of some changes, the targeted therapy becomes effective. The patients who undergo it can live longer with inoperable lung cancer.
Clarifying diagnostic tests
Clarifying diagnostic tests are used in already established diagnosis. They allow the doctor to determine the location, size of the tumor, its shape, the presence of metastases, spread to neighboring organs and tissues. According to the results of such an examination, a decision is made whether an operation is required. If surgical treatment is performed, then clarifying techniques allow the doctor to better plan the operation.
Computed tomography is the most informative test for the diagnostics of lung cancer. With its help, it is possible not only to detect a tumor for the first time, but also to establish its configuration, its relationship with surrounding tissues, and assess the state of lymph nodes. It is possible to perform CT scans of other areas of the body, such as the liver, for the detection of metastatic foci.
MRI is used for the detection of metastases in the central nervous system.
PET can detect metastatic foci of any location, although it does not allow the doctors to detail the particular areas.
Bone X-ray can detect lung cancer metastases in the bone.
Ultrasound scan is performed by means of insertion of the sensor in large bronchi or esophagus. It allows the doctor to detect enlarged lymph nodes without additional radiation influence on the body.
Sometimes such invasive diagnostic procedures as mediastinoscopy, mediastinotomy, thoracoscopy can be used for the clarification of the tumor spread.
Diagnostics in Germany with the Booking Health company
To undergo the diagnostics and treatment of lung cancer in Germany, please use the services of the Booking Health company. We provide the following benefits:
- Selection of the best clinic, which specializes in the diagnostics of lung cancer, chemotherapy, surgical treatment, immunotherapy and other treatment methods of this disease.
- Reduced costs of medical services up to 50% due to the lack of overpricing and additional coefficients for foreign patients.
- Booking an appointment on the most suitable dates for you.
- Preparation of the diagnostic program, chemotherapy or other treatment methods, taking into account previously performed diagnostic tests.
- Establishment of communication directly with the attending physician.
- Monitoring of the program for lung cancer diagnostics or treatment of this disease at all stages.
- Control of invoices, return of unspent funds.
- Buying and forwarding medicines.
- Organization of additional diagnostics or therapy.
- Communication with the clinic upon treatment completion.
The Booking Health company will provide top-class services. We will book a hotel and airline tickets for you, meet you at the German airport and take you to the clinic by car.