A biopsy is a test where a small piece of the cancer is removed from your body, or cancer cells are collected from your blood or sputum, and various tests are run on it to determine what kind of cancer it is, and what treatments are likely to be most successful at treating it.
The below diagram shows you a common biopsy testing process – each clinic is different though, so you may have experienced a slightly different process to the one below.
After you have visited your doctor with some symptoms that you were worried about, they will have initially carried out some tests to look inside your lungs (for example, an x-ray or a scan - you can read more about these here)
At this stage, its likely that they will have noticed a tumour growing. To learn more about your cancer, they will probably also recommend that you undergo a biopsy.
In order to determine if you have NSCLC, doctors may recommend that you undergo a few tests, including a biopsy.1
Biopsies are often gathered using special biopsy needles in a number of ways, depending on where in the lungs the cancer is growing.2 The technician and doctor taking your biopsy sample will offer you anaesthesia (numbing) medicine, or a sedative (if you can take these) to help make sure you are as comfortable as possible throughout the biopsy process.
Some types of biopsies include:2
Biopsies may also be taken without a needle:2
Sometimes performing biopsies such as the ones described above can be difficult. In these cases, the doctor might offer a blood-based test that looks for genetic material or cells from the NSCLC in a blood sample.3
The laboratory sends the results of your sample back to the doctor.
If the laboratory was able to get a result from the biopsy, a doctor will discuss these with you and talk about what the next treatment steps are.