Minimally-invasive biopsy approach may accurately determine lung cancer stage

In collaboration with the Press Association

Minimally-invasive biopsy methods can accurately determine the stage of disease in patients diagnosed with lung cancer, scientists have said.

Determining how far the disease has progressed is important for discovering a patient's prognosis and deciding upon suitable treatment.

However, current methods require surgery and can produce inaccurate results. The latest finding, which is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that less invasive methods could potentially be used, and with a greater degree of accuracy.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Florida conducted a study to compare the accuracy of three minimally-invasive procedures - blind transbronchial needle aspiration (TBNA), endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration (EUS-FNA) and endobronchial ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration (EBUS-FNA).

The team, led by professor of medicine Dr Michael Wallace, compared the three diagnostic methods in 138 patients with suspected lung cancer, 42 of whom had cancer that had spread to their lymph nodes.

EBUS-FNA was found to be more accurate than TBNA, picking up 69 per cent of malignant lymph nodes compared to 36 per cent.

However, the study suggests that a combination of EBUS-FNA and EUS-FNA would be even more accurate, as it had around 93 per cent sensitivity.

Dr Wallace commented: "This study suggests that a less invasive set of procedures are highly accurate and less invasive than surgical procedures, and therefore might be an alternative."