Monitoring Lung Metastases
Once you are diagnosed with lung metastases, you and your doctors will decide on a treatment plan. That plan will also include regular tests. These tests are important because they show your doctors how treatments are working and if the tumors are shrinking, growing or staying the same. Knowing this allows you and your doctor to continue making treatment decisions and managing side effects.
Tests your doctor may use to monitor lung metastases can include
- blood tests, which can show changes in how much oxygen your lungs are sending to your blood, or find proteins or cells that have broken away from tumors and entered your blood. Either of these situations can suggest the cancer is growing or spreading.
- imaging tests such as CT scans, a combination of a CT scan and a PET scan called a PET-CT, chest x-rays, or less often, MRIs. These tests create pictures of your lungs and show where cancer is located in them. By comparing the pictures over time, doctors can see whether lung metastases are growing or shrinking, or changing in other ways.
How often you get which tests depends on the specifics of your diagnosis, your treatment and your doctor’s preferences. But it’s common for doctors to recommend imaging tests every 2-6 months. Your doctor may also recommend additional tests if you experience new or more serious symptoms or side effects. Ask your doctor how often he or she recommends you have certain tests, and why.