How is a diagnosis of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) confirmed?

Updated: Jun 05, 2020
  • Author: Winston W Tan, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Nagla Abdel Karim, MD, PhD  more...
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Answer

In a patient with a long history of smoking or other risk factors for lung cancer, the presence of persistent respiratory symptoms should prompt a chest radiograph. Because benign conditions and metastatic malignancies can mimic lung cancer on radiographs, histologic confirmation is necessary. This can be achieved by sputum cytologic studies, bronchoscopy, or computed tomography (CT)-guided transthoracic needle biopsy of the mass, depending on the location of the tumor (see the image below).

Non–small cell lung cancer. Diagnostic approach fo Non–small cell lung cancer. Diagnostic approach for possible lung cancer.

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