• Question: How would you diagnose lung cancer?

    Asked by englik04 to Alex on 29 Jun 2018.
    • Photo: Alex Haragan

      Alex Haragan answered on 29 Jun 2018:


      A good question!
      >
      Every diagnosis begins with a history – as a doctor talking to a person and getting a full understanding of their background, symptoms, other problems etc etc are absolutely critical for knowing what might be going on.
      >
      Then comes an examination – this might include listening to the chest with a stethoscope, for example. This also helps to guide the next step…
      >
      Investigations! This can be anything from simple blood tests and chest-xrays to advanced molecular testing and CT or MRI imaging. It can also include taking samples of tissue, and if a mass or lump is found in the lung, taking a piece.
      >
      As a pathologist this is the bit I am mostly involved with – when the piece of lump from the lung comes to me I’ll dissect it and look at it under the microscope. I’ll use a variety of stains and techniques to see if its cancer, and if it is what kind of cancer. More advanced techniques will let me know specific genetic features about it and whether it might respond to certain treatments.
      >
      But it all starts with a history – being a good doctor is a bit like being a good detective sometimes, finding the clues and going from there!

Comments