The phenomenon of multicentricity in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma affects survival rates. We evaluated the use of panendoscopy/triple endoscopy and, in particular, the place of bronchial washings in the initial staging assessment of head and neck tumours. In a prospective panendoscopic study, a second primary rate of 4.8 per cent was discovered. All four bronchial tumours – both index and simultaneous primary cases – were obvious on bronchoscopy and chest X-ray, despite 50 per cent of them being clinically silent. A self-limiting complication rate of 2.4 per cent was encountered. The issue of bronchial washings was debated and our sensitivity (50 per cent) and specificity (97 per cent) results assessed. We advocate the inclusion of bronchoscopy as part of a panendoscopic work-up of head and neck tumours. The rationale for this is discussed. Bronchial washings, although cheap and easy to process, did not change the management of any patient in the study group and contamination could complicate assessment. Overall, panendoscopy is a safe worthwhile procedure.