Lung Cancer Diagnosis

Most people begin by seeing their GP when symptoms develop. Your GP will then examine you and arrange for you to have a chest x-ray, probably at your local hospital.


The x-ray will be analysed to check for any abnormalities in your lungs. You may also be asked to give samples of phlegm (sputum) to the hospital, so that they can be examined under a microscope for cancer cells, this is known as sputum cytology.

You may also have to undergo a CT (computerised tomography) scan. This takes a series of x-rays which build up a three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body. The scan is painless but takes from 10 to 30 minutes. You will be asked not to eat or drink for at least four hours before the scan.

In addition you may undergo a bronchoscopy. A specialist examines the inside of the lung airways and takes samples of the cells using a thin, flexible tube called a bronchoscope. This is carried out under local anaesthetic. Sometimes a rigid bronchoscope is used instead. If this happens, a general anaesthetic is given and you may have to stay in hospital overnight.

If you have not been diagnosed we can email you a fact sheet of areas to discuss with your GP or treating consultant to identify whether the lung cancer could be asbestos related.