Getting the Best Care Possible: What Should I Consider Before a Biopsy?

If your doctor suspects you have lung cancer, he or she will likely suggest you get a CT scan. If your doctor wants to perform a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis you have lung cancer, ask for two things:

1) That enough tissue be taken out to perform comprehensive genomic testing.

2) That your tumor be tested for biomarkers using comprehensive genomic testing.

You may have heard the terms precision or personalized medicine. This is the idea that a person’s tumor has certain characteristics that control the tumor’s behavior (like growth and spread) and some treatments can directly target these characteristics. These characteristics are indicated by specific biomarkers that can be found by testing your lung tissue.

If your doctor says you need a biopsy, be sure to let him or her know you want your tumor tested using comprehensive genomic testing. Receiving comprehensive testing along with a standard tissue biopsy will give your doctor a fuller understanding of your particular type of lung cancer so he or she can suggest the best treatment options for you. Asking for this simple test could mean access to potentially life-saving personalized lung cancer treatment. The information you receive as a result of genomic testing impacts your treatment options and could save you from needing another biopsy.

In certain cases, your doctor may not recommend submitting your tissue or it may not be possible to safely remove enough tissue for comprehensive genomic testing. If you have questions about whether or not your tumor should be tested, you may want to seek a second opinion.

Page last updated: March 22, 2020

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