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How does a biopsy confirm that I have lung cancer?

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Though tests of mucus or fluid in your lungs can show developed cancer cells, doctors will usually confirm the diagnosis through a biopsy.

Your doctor guides a thin, lighted tube through your nose or mouth and down the air passages to the site of the tumor, from where he takes out a tiny tissue sample.

If the biopsy confirms cancer, other tests will determine what type of cancer you have and how far it has spread. Nearby lymph nodes can be tested for cancer cells using a procedure called a mediastinoscopy, which involves having a small cut made in the front of your neck to pass a hollow, lighted tube into the chest to take biopsies. Endobronchial ultrasound and endoscopic esophageal ultrasound are two other ways to biopsy lymph nodes to test for cancer cells.

SOURCES: 

National Cancer Institute. 

National Institutes of Health. 

WebMD Medical Reference from the American College of Physicians: “Section 12 VIII Lung Cancer.”

News release, FDA.

American Cancer Society.

American Lung Association. 

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson on September 20, 2019

SOURCES: 

National Cancer Institute. 

National Institutes of Health. 

WebMD Medical Reference from the American College of Physicians: “Section 12 VIII Lung Cancer.”

News release, FDA.

American Cancer Society.

American Lung Association. 

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson on September 20, 2019

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Should I get a chest X-ray each year to test for lung cancer?

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