Lung Cancer Diagnosis

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States. When it’s caught early, we can usually treat it with great success. We’re committed to early detection to increase the likelihood of a cure. 

Expert lung cancer diagnosis at AHN

At Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute, our expert team of physicians and surgeons diagnose the stage and type of lung cancer. Throughout your care, our robust support services help you manage all aspects of the disease.

We also offer preventive care to stop cancer before it starts. For example, we provide a revolutionary screening program for high-risk patients. Usually, this includes smokers over the age of 50. We offer:

  • Yearly screening opportunities throughout the community: We offer an innovative lung cancer screening program that uses noninvasive CT scans. In this procedure, an X-ray machine uses low doses of radiation to scan the body and take detailed pictures of the lungs. Those at higher risk for cancer, such as pack-a-day smokers over the age of 50, can be screened once a year to catch potential cancer early. This screening boosts the chances for effective treatment and even a cure and can reduce the risk of cancer deaths by up to 20 percent.
  • Molecular profiling of lung cancer: Many types of lung cancers have specific “driver mutations” occurring in certain genes. Often, cancers with these mutations respond to oral therapy. By testing for these mutations, we can offer you effective oral therapy, which results in fewer side effects than chemotherapy.

Are you at risk?

Find out if you're at risk with our quick lung cancer risk assessment.

Diagnostic procedures for lung cancer

We offer many tools to detect and diagnose lung cancer in smokers and in non-smokers. We discuss your anesthesia options before the procedure to ensure your comfort.

Initial tests to look for the presence of lung cancer include:

  • Robotic Lung Biopsy: The new Ion™ Endoluminal System is a robotic scope that allows our doctors to grab tissue samples from deep within the lung, even around tight bends in the airways. AHN is the first in western Pennsylvania to perform lung biopsies with the Ion, which lets us detect lung cancer earlier than ever before.
  • Chest X-rays: These photographs of your chest can detect tumors.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans: This type of X-ray gives your team cross-sectional images of your body to show the area in greater detail.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET): We insert a small, safe amount of a radioactive substance into your veins. The substance collects in organs and tissues, helping us identify the locations of the tumors.
  • Sputum cytology: We collect and analyze coughed up mucus under a microscope to detect cancerous cells.

If the initial tests show signs of lung cancer, we may use these tests to confirm a diagnosis:

  • Bronchoscopy: We pass a lighted flexible camera through your mouth and into the large airways to see the lungs in detail.
  • Endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS): This type of bronchoscopy procedure uses ultrasound waves to identify and test lymph nodes in your respiratory tract. We may also use EBUS after diagnosis to stage the cancer, so we can tailor a treatment plan.
  • Thoracoscopy: Making a small incision in your chest, we pass a camera into the cavity between the lungs and chest wall. The camera pinpoints the precise location of the tumor, so we can collect cells. This high level of precision ensures a more accurate diagnosis.
  • Thoracentesis: We insert a needle between the ribs, to remove fluid surrounding the lungs. We test the fluid for cancerous cells.
  • Fine or core needle biopsy: We insert a needle into an area where a tumor is present. We remove a small tissue sample and analyze it under a microscope to look for cellular changes.
  • Liquid biopsy: In this precise blood test, physicians examine DNA fragments circulating in the blood to identify certain cancer mutations. This information helps us find a targeted treatment plan for you, and it can replace a more invasive tissue biopsy.

Lung cancer treatment

Once we diagnose and stage the cancer, we will discuss your treatment options with you. We offer many treatment methods including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted oral therapy. We work with you to find the treatment solution that meets your needs. Get more information on treating lung cancer.

Contact us

Call the AHN Cancer Help Line anytime at (412) NURSE-4-U (412) 687-7348 to schedule a cancer-related appointment or to just talk with our nurses about diagnoses, treatments, and side effects.

Monthly free cancer screenings

Early cancer detection saves lives. See AHN free cancer screening dates, locations and eligibility requirements for each screen offered.  Then, call to register for your free cancer screenings.

Allegheny Health Network has recently purchased an Ion™ endoluminal system