Can a Pulmonary Function Test Detect Lung Cancer?

doctorlookingatanxrayWhen you have breathing problems or other possible symptoms of lung cancer, your doctor might recommend having a pulmonary function test done. These tests show how well your lungs perform when you breathe in and out. While these tests are done for a number of reasons, detecting lung cancer is one of them.

Who Needs a Pulmonary Function Test?

Pulmonary function tests are done to detect some lung or respiratory system diseases and conditions. Some of these include a narrowing in the airways, lung cancer and changes in the way your lungs move oxygen to your blood. These tests are also used to determine how effective treatments are for asthma and other respiratory conditions or to show if your lungs have been damaged by environmental substances.

Why Might Your Doctor Order a Pulmonary Function Test?

Your doctor may have you take a pulmonary function test if you are showing certain signs and symptoms associated with lung cancer, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or other lung conditions. Some of these symptoms include frequent or chronic coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughs that produce phlegm and trouble breathing.

What Should You Expect During Your Test?

How you prepare for your test and what to expect while you have it depends on the type of test you’re having. There are many different types of pulmonary function tests, such as spirometry, lung volume tests, oximetry with ambulation, respiratory muscle strength tests, and arterial blood gas tests. Spirometry tests are among the more common types of pulmonary function tests that are done. With this type of test, you can expect to exhale with force and inhale into a special tube that connects to a spirometer machine. This machine measures how much air you exhale and inhale for about 30 minutes overall.

What Do Pulmonary Function Test Results Mean?

The results of your pulmonary function test can help your doctor determine if you have lung cancer or other lung diseases. Abnormal results for these tests vary from patient to patient based on different factors, such as age and gender. Your doctor will compare the results you get to average results for people who are similar to you in age and other factors. Overall, results that are less than 80 percent of this value are considered abnormal. Your doctor may have you undergo additional tests to diagnose lung cancer. If you already have lung cancer, you might have a pulmonary function test done to determine the best course of treatment for it.

If you need a pulmonary function test, please contact MXBowen, Physician, PC to schedule an appointment.

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