Identification of molecular alterations in biological fluids has been proposed as a powerful tool for cancer diagnosis. The purpose of this study was to identify cells that carry chromosomal alterations indicative of malignancy-specifically, gains in the loci 5p15.2 (D5S23, D5S721), 6p11 approximately q11, 7p12 (EGFR), and 8q24.12 approximately q24.13 (MYC)-for the detection of lung cancer using induced sputum. The overall sensitivity of the multicolor fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) assay from 52 lung cancer patients was 71% and the specificity was 100% (15 of 15). The most frequently detected gains were at 7p12 (EGFR) in 17 of 24 completely resectable early-stage (II+IIIA) non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) (71%). There was a statistically significant increase in the proportion of cases with gains of EGFR in squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), compared with adenocarcinomas (AC) (82 vs. 43%, respectively; P = 0.017), and a higher average EGFR gene copy number in the SCCs than in the ACs (5.04 vs. 3.78, respectively; P = 0.013) in 41 NSCLCs. Conversely, a gain at the 6p11 approximately q11 and 8q24.12 approximately q24.13 (MYC) regions appears to have a higher frequency of gain in the ACs (71 and 86%, respectively) than in the SCCs (48 and 56%, respectively). The results of this study showed the potential utility of the LAVysion FISH assay for the detection of lung cancer by a noninvasive technique based on the analysis of genetic alterations of induced sputum. Defining abnormalities in sputum specimens as FISH aneusomy may be a possible diagnostic method for the early detection of lung cancer in screening of high-risk populations and monitoring for recurrence.