Expert Video - What is staging for lung cancer and how is it determined?

The treatment of any type of lung cancer depends on the stage of the cancer. The stage is based on how far the cancer has spread - whether the lung cancer is local or has spread outside the lungs to the lymph nodes or to other parts of the body. For non-small cell lung cancer, doctors want to determine the size of the primary cancer and whether it has spread to the lymph nodes or spread to the middle part of the chest, or spread outside those areas. Doctors use different diagnostic tests to determine the cancer’s stage. These tests include CT scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET) scans. If undergoing surgery, a procedure called a “mediastinoscopy” can provide additional information on the stage of the lung cancer. Knowing the lung cancer stage helps the doctor to decide what kind of treatment is best and can help predict a patient’s prognosis (outlook).

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