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Lung Nodule


A lung nodule is a spot found on an x-ray taken of your lungs. It is a small area of tissue, often round in shape that is different from normal lung issue. Lung nodules can range in size from very small (about the size of a grain of rice), to about three centimeters (which is a little over one inch). About 150,000 of these nodules are discovered on chest x-rays or CT scans every year. The majority of these nodules are benign, which means they are not cancerous.  
 
Lung nodules can occur for a number of reasons:
  • Infections that may or may not need to be treated with medicine
  • Scar tissue that forms in the lung due to infection or injury to the lung tissue
  • The nodules can develop from deposits of fat, calcium, or other materials in the lung tissue. These types of nodules are usually benign and can remain in the lung for many years or even throughout a person’s whole life.
Although the majority of lung nodules found on x-rays or CT scans are benign, once in a while they are caused by cells that are cancerous. Because some of these nodules can be cancer, lung nodules are usually checked by a doctor over time to see if they change in size or appearance. A nodule that does not change over time is usually benign.   

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Although the majority of lung nodules found on x-rays or CT scans are benign, once in a while they are caused by cells that are cancerous. Because some of these nodules can be cancer, lung nodules are usually checked by a doctor over time to see if they change in size or appearance. A nodule that does not change over time is usually benign.   

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Frequently Asked Questions


Q: I’ve been told I have a lung nodule. What does that mean?
A: A lung nodule is a spot found on an x-ray taken of your lungs. It is a small area of tissue, often round in shape that is different from normal lung issue. Lung nodules can range in size from very small (about the size of a grain of rice), to about three centimeters (which is a little over one inch). About 150,000 of these nodules are discovered on chest x-rays or CT scans every year. The majority of these nodules are benign, which means they are not cancerous.
 
Q: What causes lung nodules?
A: Lung nodules can occur for a number of reasons:
  • Infections that may or may not need to be treated with medicin
  • Scar tissue that forms in the lung due to infection or injury to the lung tissue
  • The nodules can develop from deposits of fat, calcium, or other materials in the lung tissue. These types of nodules are usually benign and can remain in the lung for many years or even throughout a person’s whole life.
Although the majority of lung nodules found on x-rays or CT scans are benign, once in a while they are caused by cells that are cancerous. Because some of these nodules can be cancer, lung nodules are usually checked by a doctor over time to see if they change in size or appearance. A nodule that does not change over time is usually benign.
 
Q: Does having a lung nodule mean that I have lung cancer?
A: A lung nodule does not mean that a person has lung cancer. In fact, the majority of nodules found on x-rays or CT scans are benign. Your doctor will order follow up tests to check the nodule over a period of time. How often the tests are done depend on the size of the nodule, whether or not you have a history of cancer, and other factors. If the lung nodule grows over time, you doctor may refer you for more testing. If the lung nodule does not grow or change over time, it is often considered to be noncancerous, or benign.
 
 



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