How is Lung Cancer Diagnosed?

Getting an accurate and precise diagnosis of your cancer type is essential to planning and choosing the best treatment options for you.

Dr. Dexter explains how navigational bronchoscopy provides a road map to peripheral lung tumors.

If you have a chest x-ray or other type of scan that suggests you may have lung cancer, your next step toward getting a definitive diagnosis may involve one or more of the following:

  • Pulmonary function tests
  • PET scan
  • CT biopsy
  • Thoracentesis takes of a sample of fluid from the space between the lung and the chest lining for analysis.
  • Bronchoscopy uses a flexible telescopic instrument to examine your major airways. Bronchoscopy is an outpatient procedure, uses a light general anesthetic and has minimal risk. In addition to visualizing your airways, the physician can also perform a diagnostic biopsy at the same time.
  • Endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) is a minimally invasive way to examine, assess and biopsy lymph nodes or other masses outside the bronchial tubes — without an incision. EBUS uses ultrasound imaging from inside the trachea to guide needle insertion to the lymph node or mass for biopsy. Patients usually go home the same day. Roswell Park is the only Western New York center equipped for EBUS.
  • Radial ultrasound can be employed to allow biopsy of lesions just outside the airway walls.
  • Navigational bronchoscopy uses CT scanning to create a three-dimensional lung model and roadmap in order to navigate the bronchoscope to difficult-to-reach places further and deeper in the lung than possible with other tools.
  • Video Mediastinoscopy is a minimally invasive outpatient surgical technique to biopsy abnormal lymph nodes in the central chest area or mediastinum.
  • Video-Assisted Thorocoscopic Surgery (VATS) for definitive minimally invasive tumor and lymph node biopsies, and surgical staging
  • Other tests may be necessary, such as pleuroscopy, cardiopulmonary stress test, quantitative nuclear lung scan, brain MRI scan or a guided biopsy of a newly-found areas of concern.

The Endoscopy Center

Roswell Park’s Endoscopy Center brings together Advanced Endoscopy and Interventional Pulmonology services into one state-of-the-art facility where more than 90 percent of procedures are performed on an outpatient basis. With our unique capabilities, we offer minimally invasive options in place of traditional surgery whenever possible resulting in quicker recovery, less pain and fewer side effects.

On-site pathology review ensures that tissue samples and lymph node biopsies are adequate during the procedure for accurate diagnosis.