The conventional method of bronchoscopy has only a 30% sensitivity to detect early stage cancer in the central airways. For patients with positive sputum cytology who clearly harbor early cancers, repeat and lengthy sessions of bronchoscopies are required for accurate localization of these lesions. This leads to a significant delay in obtaining the diagnosis, postponing an appropriate treatment and reduces the chance for cure. There are valid reasons for improving the detection rate of early stage lung cancers. The number of individuals at risk forms a large population, the outcome of patients treated with early stage cancer has been shown to be better and bronchoscopic treatments, e.g. photodynamic therapy and electrocautery, are currently alternatives for surgical resection. Finding more early stage cancers by screening the population at risk and accurate staging to enable treatment at the earliest stage feasible, may improve the dismal prognosis of many patients. This article deals with the clinical background and current problems in early detection of lung cancer and discusses our expectations regarding new developments in bronchoscopy for early detection, accurate staging and treatment of lung cancer.