Doctors may perform one or more of several tests to diagnose small cell lung cancer. Most tests may be broken down into different categories: non-invasive imaging procedures, invasive imaging procedures, and biopsies.
Non-invasive imaging procedures, such as x-rays, CT (CAT) scans, and PET scans, use various technologies to create pictures of your lungs without surgery or inserting equipment into your body. Invasive imaging procedures, such as thoracoscopy and bronchoscopy, involve inserting special camera equipment through an incision between the ribs (thoracoscopy) or the nose or mouth (bronchoscopy) to view the lungs and surrounding areas closely. Biopsies, such as fine-needle aspiration, thoracentesis, and sometimes thoracoscopy, involve removing tissue or fluid from the lungs or surrounding areas to examine in a lab for cancer.