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Posts: 56
Joined: Dec 2010

A friend's cat scan shows "nodues"in his right lung upper lobe and the doctors aren't sssure if it is or is'nt cancer. A pulmonologist suggested a bronscopy with a tissue biopsy of the area. Could the biopsy activate the cancer (if it is) or do any worse damage? The oncologist said it might be an infection. Is there a definitive test before it gets any worse? Thank you for help/suggestions.

Posts: 1048
Joined: Aug 2006

Nodules can be many different things. If they are cancer, they need treatment. Sometimes the nodules are something else, maybe better, maybe not. A biopsy can tell right away if the cells are cancer. When my nodules were checked, the thoracic surgeon ran many different tests even though the cells were cancer. He tested for parasites, infections, and all kinds of diseases. Further genetic testing was completed about a week after that surgury and let us know what kind of cancer I had. That's important too, since different kinds of cancer respond to different kinds of treatment.

I don't think you need to worry about the surgery causing cancer to become activated. The things that make cancer grow and develop are within the cells themselves. Surgeons take precautions to remove the tissue carefully so that cells are not scattered in other areas where they may spread.

I don't know of any tests to determine for sure that a nodule is or isn't cancer without a biopsy. Sometimes doctors wait three months after the original scan, repeat the scan, and see if the nodule has grown before they do a biopsy. Cancer doubles. A PET scan can sometimes light up in areas where cancer may be growing, but it is still not as sure as a biopsy.

Folks that have had a bronscopy with a tissue biopsy could let you know how invasive that procedure is or isn't. I suspect that will be the quickest way to find out what your friend is dealing with so he can start planning treatment sooner rather than later.

Good luck!

PBJ Austin
Posts: 347
Joined: Mar 2009

I had the needle biopsy, the broncoscopy, the EBUS and a PET scan and they all came back inconclusive. The PET scan did light up but a PET scan will light up for any abnormal growth whether it's cancer or not. The doctors were stumped but they finally did an upper right lobectomy because the mass was so huge it destroyed that lobe. In the end it turned out to be a bad infection. This was only diagnosed after removal of the lobe and the biopsies gave no indication of that. All they got from biopsies was dead tissue that yielded no clues of what was wrong.

The testing did not aggravate the infection, nor will it make cancer any worse. I think a broncopscopy is a very good idea. A person is knocked out and will remember nothing so that part isn't bad. The next day I felt very groggy and had a sore throat but in another day's time I was fine.

I am very glad your friend's doctor was smart enough to say it could be an infection. When my mass was discovered they told me with great certainty it would turn out to be cancer, they even acted like I was in an advanced stage of cancer.