Lung Nodules are usually small abnormalities seen on a chest x-ray or CAT scan, which are most often less than a centimeter in size. It may be scar tissue, infection, inflammation, or a tumor/cancer. About 60% of lung nodules are benign or non-cancerous.
Non-cancerous Lung Nodules
Non-cancerous lung nodules are most often caused by inflammation or infection. Infections could be bacterial, fungal, or parasitic. Acute or chronic infection is often treated with medication.
Another common cause is sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease which may or may not require treatment. It can form in almost any body organ, but most commonly begins in the lungs or lymph nodes.
A third common cause is associated with rheumatoid arthritis and may require further evaluation. Rheumatoid nodules can be as small as a pea or grow as large as a walnut and usually cause no symptoms. They are not a risk for lung cancer, but may occasionally rupture.
Cancerous Lung Nodules
Malignant lung nodules include lung cancers, lymphomas, and cancers that have metastasized or spread from elsewhere in the body. If the lung nodule is on the larger size, a biopsy will reveal whether it is cancerous or benign.
A malignant lung nodule can be caused by a genetic predisposition, tobacco exposure, or exposure to toxic materials.
A cancerous lung nodule often should be removed with surgery, and if no other cancer is found, it may require no other treatment. When caught early, malignant lung nodules are often successfully treated.