Doctors may order one or more kinds of laboratory tests to help determine if a person has lung cancer and to acquire information about a person's overall health.
Blood tests do not diagnose lung cancer, but they provide a doctor information on a patient’s overall health and information on how well the organs of the body are functioning.
A A measure of the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in the blood is ordered to check for:
- Anemia, a low number of red blood cells
- Thrombocytopenia, a low number of platelets, which can cause bleeding
- Neutropenia, a low number of A type of blood cell that is made in the bone marrow and found in the blood and lymph tissue. White blood cells are part of the body’s immune system. They help the body fight infection and other diseases., which can put a patient at increased risk for infection1
A common panel of blood tests that measures the amounts of electrolytes and other chemicals made in the body are used to check whether a patient’s liver or kidneys are working well. The results from these blood tests help the doctor decide if a patient is able to undergo surgery or receive another type of lung cancer treatment.1,2
If lung cancer is suspected, Examination under a microscope of cells found in sputum brought up from the lungs by coughing. The test checks for abnormal cells, such as lung cancer cells may be performed. The patient may be asked to cough up Thick mucus made by the cells lining the upper airways and lungs so a A doctor who identifies diseases by studying cells and tissues under a microscope or with other equipment can look at it under a microscope. A doctor usually orders a patient to provide phlegm three mornings in a row. A pathologist can locate cancer cells in the mucus, but most of the time there are not enough cells to make a final diagnosis of lung cancer. In addition, there is a high rate of false negatives with this test—that is, the test often does not detect cancer when cancer is actually present.2,3
Sputum cytology is more likely to help diagnose lung cancers that start in the major airways of the lung, such as most A type of non-small cell lung cancer that usually starts near a central bronchus. It begins in squamous cells, which are thin, flat cells that look like fish scales.. It may not be as helpful for finding other types of lung cancers. It also does not provide information on how far the disease has spread, so if it is positive for lung cancer other diagnostic tests must be performed.2,3
Updated June 4, 2019
- “Complete Blood Count tests. Cancer.Net website. https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/diagnosing-cancer/reports-and-results/complete-blood-count-tests. Approved August 2017. Accessed June 4, 2019.
- Tests for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. American Cancer Society website. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-small-cell-lung-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/how-diagnosed.html. Revised June 23, 2017. Accessed June 4, 2019.
- Sputum Cytology. LungCancer.net website https://lungcancer.net/diagnosis/sputum-cytology/. Reviewed January 2017. Accessed June 4, 2019.