Acquisition and Processing of Endobronchial Ultrasound-guided Transbronchial Needle Aspiration Specimens in the Era of Targeted Lung Cancer Chemotherapy

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Recent advances in therapy for non-small cell lung carcinoma have shown that a personalized approach to treatment has the potential to significantly reduce lung cancer mortality. Concurrently, endoscopic ultrasound transbronchial needle aspiration has emerged as an accurate and sensitive tool for the diagnosis and staging of this disease. As knowledge of the molecular mechanisms that drive lung cancer progression increases, the amount of information that must be derived from a tumor specimen will also increase. Recent clinical studies have demonstrated that small specimens acquired by endoscopic ultrasound transbronchial needle aspiration are sufficient for molecular testing if specimen acquisition and processing are done with these needs in mind. Optimum use of this procedure requires a coordinated effort between the bronchoscopist and the cytopathologist to collect and triage specimens for diagnostic testing. When feasible, rapid onsite evaluation should be performed to assess the specimen for both diagnostic quality and quantity and to allocate the specimen for cell-block and possible immunohistochemistry and molecular studies. It is necessary for pulmonologists and bronchoscopists to understand the rationale for histologic and molecular testing of lung cancer diagnostic specimens and to ensure that specimens are acquired and processed in a fashion that provides information from small cytologic specimens that is sufficient to guide treatment in this era of targeted therapy.

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