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Lung Nodules — What They Are And How They Are Treated

The lungs are an incredible organ. Through the lungs, the essential organ of the respiratory system, the body acquires the oxygen required for human life. Of course, as amazing as the lungs are, they are prone to maladies, as all body parts are. One problem that can arise is lung nodules.

What Are Lung Nodules?

As the Cleveland Clinic defines it, a lung nodule is “a small round or oval-shaped growth in the lung.” Lung nodules are small, being only three centimeters or fewer in diameter — if they are any larger, the nodule is defined as a mass instead. Nodules can be formed by infections and respiratory illnesses, and are a very common occurrence.

How Dangerous Are Lung Nodules?

A lung nodule may or may not be dangerous. Lung nodules can be divided into two categories: malignant, cancerous nodules, and benign, noncancerous nodules. Fortunately, more than 90% of all lung nodules fall into the latter category. While still an abnormal growth, in these cases the nodule poses no risk. Though the idea of a growth in the lungs always sounds scary, lung nodules are usually nothing to worry about.

Diagnosing a Lung Nodule

Lung nodules are identified via X-ray or CT scan. A nodule is detected in roughly one out of every 500 chest X-rays. Lung nodules are almost always discovered by accident, since they rarely cause symptoms. Among the symptoms that may, however, accompany a lung nodule are shortness of breath, wheezing, fever, and persistent or bloody coughing. To help determine whether a nodule is dangerous or not, a doctor may order blood tests or a biopsy of the nodule.

Treatment for Lung Nodules

Since lung nodules are usually not dangerous, an aggressive approach to treatment is rarely necessary. Benign nodules need only be monitored for signs of change in size or shape. A doctor may order a new X-ray or CT scan every six to 12 months. If, after two full years, the nodule has not changed size or shape, it is almost certainly benign, and monitoring can be curtailed.

Matters are different if the nodule is found to be malignant in testing. In these cases, the nodule will generally be surgically removed from the lung. If, unfortunately, the cancerous nodules have metastasized to other areas of the body, more serious treatments will be needed, such as chemotherapy, radiation, or both. Identifying malignant lung nodules early is crucial, since catching cancer at an early stage greatly improves health outcomes.

It is worth knowing the details about what lung nodules are, and how they pose a risk to health. In worst case scenarios, lung nodules can be extremely dangerous. Cancer, of course, is a very significant problem. However, fortunately, lung nodules are usually benign. A person who finds out they have a lung nodule should not be seriously alarmed.

To schedule an appointment contact either of our 2 Radiology & Imaging locations for any questions.

Alameda Imaging Center

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3226 S. Alameda St Corpus Christi, TX 78404

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(361) 888-6684

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South Imaging Center

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2825 Spohn South Drive Corpus Christi, TX 78414

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(361) 991-9595

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Saturday: 9:00AM – 3:00PM

 

Author: Carlton Ryan