There have been tremendous strides in the development of minimally invasive techniques to help diagnose lung cancer. Traditional bronchoscopy can’t always access the outer regions of the lungs, and in the past, this meant that surgery was required to diagnose out-of-reach lung cancers. But not anymore.
Electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy creates a 3D road map of the lungs from a CT scan to guide your surgeon to the lesion. Tiny catheters are then placed through the bronchoscope to reach and biopsy the tumor. It can take up to five days to get the results.
It’s also important to sample lymph nodes, which sit around the windpipe, to see if the lung cancer has spread, Doctors can pass an endoscope with a tiny camera down into the windpipe to reach the lungs, where it creates images of lymph nodes using sound waves. A hollow needle can then be passed through the scope to retrieve biopsy samples of any enlarged lymph nodes.
After a lung cancer diagnosis, you will need to discuss a few things with your doctor–such as the stage of the disease, the treatment options and how long you have to consider these options.