Medical History and Physical Examination for Lung Cancer
Your medical history can help your health professional find out what is causing your symptoms. Your health professional will ask you questions about:
- Your symptoms, such as shortness of breath, cough, bloody mucus or blood from the lungs (sputum), and Reference wheezing Opens New Window.
- How long you have had your symptoms.
- Whether your symptoms are becoming worse.
- Any change in your appetite or a recent weight loss.
- Your use of tobacco.
- Your exposure to smoke from other people's smoking (secondhand smoke).
- Your contact with certain chemicals, such as Reference asbestos, radioactive dust, or Reference radon.
- Your work-related contact with fumes and dust (for example, you might be exposed to dust on the job if you work in the mining industry).
- Any respiratory problems you had when you were a child.
- Your family history of respiratory problems and/or cancer.
- Other medical conditions you may have.
During the physical exam, your health professional will examine your body to help find the cause of your symptoms. Your health professional may:
- Take your temperature and weight to check for a fever or weight loss.
- Examine your ears, eyes, nose, and throat for signs of infection.
- Listen to your heart and lungs with a stethoscope. He or she will listen for abnormal air movement through your lungs that may indicate Reference pneumonia Opens New Window or other respiratory problems.
- Examine your chest for areas of pain in your ribs or muscles.
- Press or tap on your belly (abdominal palpation) to check for pain, fluid buildup, or an enlarged liver.
- Examine your neck, armpits, groin, and other areas of your body to check for enlarged Reference lymph nodes Opens New Window.
Laboratory tests may also be part of your physical exam for Reference lung cancer Opens New Window. Laboratory tests may include a Reference complete blood count (CBC), a routine Reference chemistry screen, and a Reference chest X-ray.
Why It Is Done
A complete medical history and physical exam will help your health professional find out what is causing your symptoms.
Your medical history may show that you have an increased risk of developing lung cancer if you have risk factors such as:
- Tobacco use or contact with tobacco smoke.
- A family history of cancer or respiratory problems.
- Contact with certain chemicals, such as Reference asbestos, radioactive dust, or Reference radon.
- Work-related contact with fumes or dust.
- Frequent, severe respiratory illnesses.
- Reference Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) Opens New Window.
Physical symptoms related to lung cancer include:
- Shortness of breath, Reference wheezing Opens New Window, or difficulty breathing.
- Chest pain.
- A new or worse cough or bloody sputum.
- Weight loss and increasing fatigue.
What To Think About
A medical history and physical exam will help find out what is causing your symptoms. If lung cancer is suspected, your health professional will order other tests to confirm the diagnosis.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: September 12, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Michael Seth Rabin, MD - Medical Oncology