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Q. Kindly tell me if there is any alternative to bronchoscopy to get tissue for testing cancer.

Answered by
Dr. Sumit Srivastava
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Nov 26, 2018

Hello doctor,

I have a family friend that recently was admitted to hospital for shortness of breath. She was advised that after several examinations that she has a form of cancer. The information that we were provided with was that they were unable to ascertain where or how severe the cancer was. Some confusion over whether it was thyroid or lung cancer and also its placement. The advice given was for her to undertake a bronchoscopy in order to do a biopsy of the lung. She had complications as a result of the bronchoscopy and was put in ICU for observation. That was last week, we have now been told that she will not recover and is too weak to breathe for herself and fight cancer. They have given her 48 hours. I really would like a second opinion because I feel we have not been told the full story. Would you recommend this procedure despite knowing that a patient was under stress with her breathing? Was there another way they could have gone about retrieving what they needed through a different procedure? I just want to quiet the nagging thoughts I have because I feel like this should have been a simple day proceedure.

Dr. Sumit Srivastava

General Medicine Internal Medicine


Welcome to

Confirmation of any form of cancer is by biopsy only when the malignant cells are visualized under a microscope and reported to be positive. Rest of the radiological test like HRCT and MRI are highly sensitive but not specific. I am assuming that the cancer was either diagnosed by cytology or radiology in her case and they did a bronchoscopy to get the tissue they suspected of being malignant. Usually, broncoscopy is done under anesthesia and does not cause any complication. Probably the cancer had been more advanced in this case or the patient's physical condition was poor but anyhow there is no other way than broncocopic tissue examination to confirm the diagnosis.

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