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Biopsy-is this normal timeframe


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Thank you for taking the time to read this post.  My father in law recently received a cancer diagnosis for which he got several CTs and a biopsy.  He has a large mass in his mediastinum with a nodule on the lung same side.  Likely lymphoma or SCLC.

Last Friday the biopsy was preformed during a bronchoscopy, they cut some out to make it easier to breath and to biopsy.  They have a direct part of the tumor.

The following Tuesday we asked about the pathology and were told they would have to take more stains of the tumor because they couldn't tell what it is but they can tell its a cancer and not lymphoma.

Yesterday (Friday, one week from bronchoscopy) we were told they same answer, they need to take more stains.

I understand that a biopsy result can take up to 2 weeks however the lack of progress concerns me and makes me question the competence/speed of the hospital.

Does this seem normal?

We are in Arizona at a Banner MD Anderson Cancer center, apparently a joint venture between Banner a local hospital system that has just an OK reputation and MD Anderson.  If anyone has other recommendations for a second opinion we are open.  We have a Mayo here and a Cancer Center Treatment Center of America.


We have insisted on a rush and I believe they are forwarding some stains to MD Anderson Texas.

God Bless you all, these boards provide much needed information that don't seem to be provided by the doctors.


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Keep in mind, I’m not a pathologist and there is rarely anything “normal” about lung cancer. But, the results delay in your situation does seem to be abnormal. Most lung cancer can be diagnosed under a microscope. During my biopsy, my surgeon snipped lymph nodes and sent them to the pathologist for analysis and got results in near-real time. 

Sometimes, lung cancer type determination can be challenging and there are some odd ball presentations that complicate things. These days, most of us get surgical biopsy results in one to three days, but samples are sent to a lab for additional treating to check for biomarkers (mutations, genomic or molecular) testing. This additional lab testing takes on the order of 3 weeks.

I’ve never heard of anyone getting a second opinion on a histology (by microscope) examination. Normally the process is quick and accurate. But, bear in mind, there is little that is normal in lung cancer.

I’d be calling the surgeon’s office asking for an explanation for the delay.

Stay the course.



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