What is the role of CT scanning in the workup of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)?

Updated: Aug 27, 2019
  • Author: Sat Sharma, MD, FRCPC; Chief Editor: Eugene C Lin, MD  more...
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Answer

Answer

CT scanning of the thorax plays multiple roles in evaluation of patients with bronchogenic carcinoma. These include lung cancer screening, evaluation of a solitary pulmonary nodule, and staging. CT scans are used extensively for staging NSCLC; however, CT staging leads to either overestimated or underestimated staging in approximately 40% of patients.

Low-dose helical CT has been used in some trials to screen patients at risk for lung cancer. CT has depicted noncalcified nodules, although a small number have been found to be malignant.

On contrast-enhanced CT scans, increased attenuation of 20 HU or more has been shown to be 98% sensitive and 73% specific for lung cancer. [21]


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