Information for Consumers - Lung Cancer (Staging)

This article tells you about lung cancer staging, including what imaging tests you may need to have.

What is lung cancer?

Lung cancer is the growth of cancer cells in the tissues of the lung. There are two main types of lung cancer, small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.

Staging of lung cancer

If you have been diagnosed with lung cancer your doctor will need to see if the cancer has spread (called "staging"). This helps the doctor plan your treatment. The Imaging tests your doctor requests will depend on your symptoms.

If you have lung cancer your doctor may request one or more of the following:

  • Chest x-ray
  • CT scan
  • PET scan
  • Bone scan
  • MRI scan
  • Endoscopic ultrasound guided biopsy of lymph nodes
  • Percutaneous transthoracic biopsy


A radiology doctor will look at your scans and write a report for your doctor.

Further information

For more detailed information, please access InsideRadiology at:

This is a resource produced especially for consumers by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists:

A guide to gathering information that you may need for making informed decisions is published by the Consumers' Health Council of Australia at:

If you would like to look at other relevant articles, please access the following:

Or access the Diagnostic Imaging Pathways website at:

Or if you have questions or require any other information please contact your Doctor.

Consumer participation

This information has been reviewed by representatives from the following groups:

  • Aboriginal people
  • People with disabilities
  • Seniors
  • CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse)
  • The Health Consumers' Council


All feedback, comments and suggestions regarding consumer information at Diagnostic Imaging Pathways are welcome. Please click on Contact Us


This article is intended as general information only. The Diagnostic Imaging Pathways team and Radiology Across Borders will not accept any liability arising from its use. The information is kept as up-to-date and accurate as possible. Please be warned that it is always subject to change.


© Copyright 2023, Diagnostic Imaging Pathways. All Rights Reserved. The information contained on this web site is protected by copyright.

Date reviewed: July 2017

Date of next review: July 2019