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Imaging of lung cancer

Paul Stark, MD
Section Editor
Nestor L Muller, MD, PhD
Deputy Editors
Geraldine Finlay, MD
Sadhna R Vora, MD
Susanna I Lee, MD, PhD


When a patient presents with suspected non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), multiple imaging tests are required. While NSCLC is the most common lung cancer, the same principles of imaging described in this topic also apply to patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) [1].

Imaging modalities used in the evaluation of patients with known or suspected NSCLC and representative images are reviewed here. Selection of imaging and invasive staging modalities are discussed separately. (See "Overview of the initial evaluation, diagnosis, and staging of patients with suspected lung cancer" and "Selection of modality for diagnosis and staging of patients with suspected non-small cell lung cancer" and "Procedures for tissue biopsy in patients with suspected non-small cell lung cancer".)


For patients with known or suspected lung cancer, imaging achieves the following goals:

Detects tumor characteristics

Determines the radiologic disease stage

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Mar 15, 2017.
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