Investigations and diagnosis

As part of the pathway for diagnosis and management of lung cancer, patients may be sent for a number of investigations. These investigations allow doctors to make a diagnosis to see the extent of any disease.

As part of the diagnosis and management of lung cancer, a number of investigations may be necessary.

Diagnostic investigations may include:

  • CT scan – uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the inside of the body
  • PET – CT scan – an integrated PET-CT scan combines images from a positron emission tomography (PET) scan and a computed tomography (CT) scan that have been performed at the same time using the same machine
  • Bronchoscopy – this allows the doctor to examine, photograph, and when possible, take a tiny sample (biopsy) of tissue from the inside of your lungs/airways
  • Lung biopsy – the doctor puts a thin needle through the skin and muscle of your chest to take samples of cells from the lung tumour

Staging and grading of lung cancer

Your cancer specialist needs certain information about the cancer to decide on the most appropriate treatment for you. This includes the stage and grade of the cancer. The stage of a cancer describes its size, position and whether it has spread beyond the area of the body where it started.

For more information on the staging and grading of lung cancer, please visit the Macmillan Cancer Support website.


Your results will be discussed at the lung cancer multi-disciplinary meeting. The team will review all aspects of your care and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. A member of the team will discuss this with you.

A lung cancer clinical nurse specialist is available to provide support and advice to you, your family and carers.

Macmillan lung cancer nurse specialists

The Macmillan lung cancer nurses are specialist nurses who are based at Antrim Area Hospital and Causeway Hospital.

They work in partnership with the respiratory, oncology and palliative care team, hospital and community staff and other health care professionals.

The lung cancer nurse specialists provide advice on pain and symptom control, emotional support and information and advice on all aspects of lung cancer to patients, families and carers, from the time of diagnosis, during and on completion of treatment.

They also support patients and families through palliative care and work closely with community teams including GPs, district nurses and the specialist palliative care team.
The lung cancer nurses are available at respiratory and oncology clinics to support patients and their families at their outpatient appointments. The team also facilitate a support group for patients and families.

Referrals can be made by the team to other useful sources of help. These include counselling, complementary therapies or the Benefits Advice Service, which provides information on financial issues.


Macmillan lung cancer nurse specialist, Causeway Hospital,
Telephone: 028 7963 1031

Macmillan lung cancer nurse specialist, Antrim Area Hospital,
Telephone: 028 9442 4716