- What is a pulmonary nodule?
- Prognosis of the disease
- Diagnostic tests
- What are the causes?
- Treatment of pulmonary nodules
- What expert treats it?
What is a pulmonary nodule?
Pulmonary nodules are spots in the lungs, usually no larger than 3 cm in diameter. In most cases, they are benign and do not represent cancer. A pulmonary nodule usually shows up on a chest x-ray or CT scan. They may appear as single nodules or you may have several. If a lung nodule is cancerous, it is usually larger than 3 cm and may have an irregular shape.
Prognosis of a pulmonary nodule
Benign lung nodules are more likely to be non-cancerous if you do not smoke, are under 40 years of age and the nodule is less than 3 cm. If the nodule is confirmed to be cancerous, if there is only one nodule it is likely that the cancer is in earlier stages. However, a cancerous lung nodule could indicate a metastasis from cancer that originated elsewhere in the body. This will mean a later stage cancer that should be treated accordingly.
Symptoms of a lung nodule
Lung nodules are usually asymptomatic and you may have had a pulmonary nodule in your lung for months or years. If the nodules are cancerous, you may be experiencing symptoms related to the type of cancer in question, such as coughing and shortness of breath.
Many pulmonary nodules are asymptomatic, but in some cases
cause persistent coughing and shortness of breath.
Medical tests to diagnose a lung nodule
A chest x-ray or CT scan usually indicates the presence of a pulmonary nodule, which may be performed if you have visited your doctor for respiratory symptoms or illness, such as a persistent cough. Once identified, your medical history and whether or not you smoke will be evaluated.
To determine if a nodule is cancerous, a biopsy may be taken, which may be performed as a bronchoscopy or needle biopsy. Blood tests may also be performed.
What are the causes of a pulmonary nodule?
Generally, a benign pulmonary nodule develops as a result of inflammation or scarring in the lungs. This may be due to the following:
- Infections (e.g. tuberculosis).
- Neoplasms (abnormal growths that may be cancerous or non-cancerous)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Lung cancer
- Metastatic tumors
Can they be prevented?
You can reduce the risk of lung nodule formation by quitting smoking.
Treatments for a lung nodule
If the lung nodule is benign, you will be advised to have regular checkups to track any growth or changes in the nodule. Sometimes, a benign nodule can be surgically removed.
If the lung nodule is cancerous, cancer treatment will be started and surgery to remove the cancerous tumor will be considered.
What specialist treats lung nodules?
A pulmonologist, a specialist in pulmonary and respiratory medicine would treat pulmonary nodules.