If a physician has recently diagnosed you or a loved one with lung nodules, you may have many questions about what this kind of diagnosis really means. In this post, we will define what lung nodules are and what causes them and provide information on how they are diagnosed and treated.
Lung Nodules Defined
A lung nodule, sometimes referred to as a pulmonary nodule, is a small growth found in the lung. Some physicians also refer to a lung nodule as a lesion or spot on the lung. It is typically round or oval in shape and less than 3 centimeters (about 1.2 inches) in size. A lung nodule could be benign or malignant (cancerous), although 90% of lung nodules less than 2 centimeters are benign (non-cancerous). Any spot on the lung greater than 3 centimeters is called a “mass” and has a greater propensity to represent cancer.
How Are Lung Nodules Diagnosed?
It is not uncommon for lung nodules to be discovered after undergoing an X-ray or CT scan of the lungs. In fact, up to half of all lung CT scans will show evidence of at least one lung nodule. Since a lung nodule is so small, most individuals do not know they have a nodule until they have a lung X-ray or CT scan due to some other type of medical issue that requires such testing.
Reasons for Developing a Lung Nodule
In general, a lung nodule will develop due to inflammation, although there can be other reasons why a lung nodule begins to form. Lung nodule(s) may begin to form due to:
- Lung infection.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Neoplasm (A benign or malignant abnormal growth).
Treatments for Lung Nodules
Treatment for lung nodules will largely be determined by their diagnosis as benign or malignant. If a lung nodule is considered benign, no treatment may be necessary unless treatment is required for the underlying cause of a nodule, such as a lung infection.
If a lung nodule is considered malignant (cancerous) and the cancer hasn’t spread (metastasized), then it is likely a physician will recommend to their patient that their cancerous lung nodule(s) be surgically removed.