Lung Biopsy: My Experience
Last updated: August 2022
When I first heard the words “you have lung cancer,” so many emotions came over me. As lung cancer survivors, each of us has gone through test after test. But we know, ultimately, the one we are most anxious for is that initial biopsy to see if it is truly malignant.
I am very lucky to live in a state with a large health care facility that is recognized nationwide. From the moment my biopsy was scheduled, I was kept informed and knew exactly what would happen. Lung biopsies are performed in radiology by a radiologist. This was surprising to me. I thought it would have been a thoracic surgeon, but I was incorrect.1
Preparing for the biopsy
I arrived on time to X-ray. I was first taken to the dressing room and told to take off everything from the waist up and put on one of those lovely robes they give you. From there, they walked me to the room where the biopsy would be performed and I was told to lay on my stomach on the table – which was actually a room with a CT scan and a rather large TV above me. The staff did a CT scan to locate the tumor(s) so they would know where to inject the needle.
Once the area was determined, I was given an injection with Lidocaine to numb the area on my back. I was also given an IV to give me a slight sedation. I can tell you, the sedation was not sedation at all. It simply relaxed me and I realized I wasn't as nervous.
Now it was time. The radiologist told me you will feel pressure. And that is exactly what it was. It felt like a small child had climbed on my back. I could hear clicking which was the needle/syringe the put into my back to grab a piece of the tumor. This process took less than 5 minutes.
And I was done! They told me I could get dressed, go home and my doctor would contact me. I was amazed the entire process was so easy and so fast I was really nervous for nothing.
Possible side effects
While my experience was relatively easy, there are still some risks and side effects you need to look out for:1
- Bleeding in the lung
- Coughing up blood
- Collapsed lung (caused from pneumothorax)
I have had 3 biopsies and have never had any of the side effects. At most, I was sleepy when I got home from the relaxation sedative they gave me.
Have you had a lung biopsy? Share your experience with the community in the comments!
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 28, 2020, Jennifer Toth passed away. Jennifer was a passionate advocate for the Lung Cancer community. She will be deeply missed.
Beside manner matters! What has your experience been?