What is the role of bronchoscopy in the workup of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)?

Updated: Jul 15, 2021
  • Author: Winston W Tan, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Nagla Abdel Karim, MD, PhD  more...
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When a lung cancer is suggested, bronchoscopy provides a means for direct visualization of the tumor, allows determination of the extent of airway obstruction, and allows collection of diagnostic material under direct visualization with direct biopsy of the visualized tumor, bronchial brushings and washing, and transbronchial biopsies.

The decision whether to pursue a diagnostic bronchoscopy for a lesion that is suspected of being lung cancer largely depends on the location of the lesion (central vs peripheral). [53] Bronchoscopy is the study of choice in patients with central tumors, with a combined sensitivity of 88%. The addition of transbronchial needle aspiration with endobronchial ultrasound to obtain cytology or histology samples when there is submucosal tumor spread or peribronchial tumor causing extrinsic compression further increases the sensitivity of bronchoscopy. [54]

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