How are benign lung nodules diagnosed?

How are benign lung nodules diagnosed?

Lung tumors and nodules can be seen on a chest X-ray or CT (computed tomography) scan. Often, the nodules are found accidently when you have a chest scan for something else.

Your healthcare provider may want to perform a bronchoscopy to take a closer look at the mass and get a tissue sample (biopsy). During a bronchoscopy, a scope with a built-in camera is slid down your throat and into your lungs while you are sedated. Other ways to gather a tissue sample are by inserting a needle into the mass, guided by a CT-scan, to extract a small amount of tissue, or through a surgical incision.

Additional information your healthcare team uses to make the diagnosis include:

  • Size of the nodule: Your healthcare provider may chart the rate of growth of your nodule. The smaller the nodule, the more likely it is to be benign. Also, benign nodules grow very slowly, if at all, while cancerous nodules on average can double in size every four months or less.
  • Nodule content, shape and color: Another way to tell a benign lung nodule from a malignant one is to test its calcium content. Benign nodules have higher calcium content and are normally smoother and more regularly shaped. Benign nodules have a more even color pattern than malignant nodules. Malignant nodules more commonly have irregular shapes, rougher surfaces, and color variations or speckled patterns.

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