Cancer is perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that someone has a lung nodule. However, this is mainly a benign condition, although there may be a link between both diseases.
A lung nodule is a mass that measures between five and thirty millimeters. It is an increasingly common condition, and current estimates indicate that it affects around 0.2% of the population. The good news is that almost 60% of these nodules are benign.
The causes of this disease range from an infection to a tumor. Most of the latter are found by chance when performing a CT scan or an X-ray.
It is important to diagnose this situation early to avoid complications and rule out something more serious. In today’s article, we therefore explain everything you need to know about a lung nodule and what the symptoms are.
The causes of a lung nodule
As we mentioned above, a lung nodule is a mass in the lungs, and the causes can vary. Most of them are caused by an infection – either bacterial, fungal or parasite.
With regard to infectious causes, be aware that pulmonary nodules are common in people with tuberculosis. Yes, it still happens even if the incidence is low.
At the moment, the first thing a doctor will do is rule out whether the lung nodule is carcinogenic. This is because lung cancer is one of the most common variants of cancer.
In such cases, a lung nodule will have an irregular appearance with poorly defined edges; this is visible on the X-ray image. Also, they are usually smaller than the benign ones. In addition, they are part of certain risk factors, for example:
- To be over 35 years old
- A previous history of cancer
- The lung nodule grew rapidly in recent months
However, it is important to know that not all neoplastic lung nodules are malignant. There are some benign varieties, although these are rarer.
Other causes of a pneumonia
There are many other diseases that can be the result of this lung disorder. For example, certain autoimmune processes such as Wegener’s granulomatosis or rheumatoid nodule. Both are rare.
Similarly, pulmonary nodules in some people can occur due to trauma. This is probably due to a metabolic disease called amyloidosis or after a bronchial cyst.
How do doctors diagnose a lung nodule?
First, it is important to have a complete medical history of a person to diagnose a lung nodule and determine the cause. A patient needs to know if they have had tuberculosis in the past or if they have been exposed to certain infections from infected people.
It is also important to know if they are smokers or not. Many studies revealed that a large proportion of lung nodules are carcinogenic and related to smoking.
Once this is done, a doctor must perform certain imaging tests to locate the node. In addition, the images will show certain properties such as shape and size. This is because they are important in distinguishing a benign nodule from a possibly malignant variant.
The most common ways to diagnose them are through chest X-rays and computed tomography. To find the exact cause of a lung nodule, doctors also sometimes do biopsies, as these allow them to analyze the tissue.
What is the best treatment?
The treatment that is followed will depend on the cause of the lung nodule. First , antibiotics or fungicides may be needed when it is due to an infectious process.
If the cause is unclear, treatment will focus on the patient’s risk of cancer. For example, young non-smokers can only be called in for periodic checks. Mainly to check if the knot changes or grows.
Similarly, if there is a risk of cancer, it is important that the doctor follow up with a biopsy. If the lump was actually carcinogenic, they will need to plan a surgical procedure to remove it. When it is not possible to operate, they may suggest chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Finally, we must highlight the negative effect of tobacco in the lungs. You need to be aware of the risk and undergo frequent medical checkups to diagnose this type of pathology as soon as possible.