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Awaiting Biopsy Results


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50 year old, never-smoker

Routine chest x-ray for several week old cough with pain when breathing found suspicious spot on left lung.

CT done as a follow-up and the scan found:

  • right lung: spiculated noncalcified mass in the posterior costophrenic angle, 21 x 18 mm
  • left lung: small left pleural effusion with left lower lobe atelectasis, which may or may not be milgnant
  • left lung: pleural-based nodule in the lateral segment of the left upper lobe, 21 x 12 mm
  • few, shotty lymph nodes in the mediastinum
  • both CT findings documented by the radiologist as "malignant until otherwise proven"

CT-guided biopsy of the right lung mass conducted on 12/6 - awaiting results...


  • Is it routine for the radiologist to include language "malignant until otherwise proven" as a CYA, or is it a sign that this is likely cancer?
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Hi MBegala and welcome. 

I'm not a doctor, keep in mind. I think that it is probable that the language"malignant until proven otherwise" is both a CYA and a sign that it is likely cancer. Doctors with a lot of experience can tell quite a bit from a CT.  My pulmonologist thought that my nodule was typical of cancer and not typical of metastasis-- I had had a prior non-lung cancer so metastasis to lung was  a  concern.  "Spiculated" is a clue-- the shape is suggestive of lung cancer. Of course there was no way to tell for sure until biopsy. There are a lot of other causes for nodules.  Good you've had a biopsy already so you don't have to wait too long. Waiting for test results is really hard for most of us. Biopsy will tell you whether it's cancer and what type generally. If it does show cancer, be sure that biomarker tesing is done -- it's sometimes called molecular testing or  tumor genetics. This will  give information about what kind of treatment will work best. Samples generally have to be sent out to specialized labs for this testing, so it takes a while to get results.

Hang in there and let us know what other questions you may have and how we can support you. That's what we're here for.

Bridget O



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Greetings from a fellow 51 year old never smoker.  I had a persistent cough & a smart nurse ordered a CT scan.  Bridget is correct- spiculated is the key word. I had a poorly defined mass that was spiculated.  Waiting for the results was the longest two days of my life. 

The bio marker testing Bridget refers to takes anywhere from 2-4 weeks. So more waiting.   

This forum has a fantastic group of people with years of real life experience.  Lots of prayers going out all over the country. 

We’re here for you.




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Michelle - thank you for checking in.  My biopsy results came back as "non diagnostic".  Apparently they were not able to extract tissue from the tumor.  Next step is to schedule a PET scan. More waiting... 

Thanks again for checking in...


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I am 53 non smoker paramedic for 20 yrs. Had spot in right lung with smokers cough. It is rare caranoid tumor .  Then biopsy was definitive. Early on the pulmonologist told me that is what he suspected. He was right. The waiting is the worse for me. My two cents - don't stress over what you do not know or can not change.  Take it as it comes one day at a time. Best of luck . 

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Tom Petty got it right when he said the waiting is the hardest part. It’s not all that uncommon not to be able to get tissue from the biopsy. Depending on the PET scan results you might want to ask how biomarker testing could be done. Precision medicine makes the treatment plan more effective. 

One test at a time.  We’re here for you. 


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