The presence of a nodule in your lung, more commonly known as a mass or “spot” on your lungs, can be quite scary. However, a lung nodule or mass is a lot more common than you might think.
Many nodules are benign, meaning that they are not cancer. It is important to know what type of lung nodule you have.
A pulmonary or lung nodule is a round or oval-shaped mass in the lung that can vary greatly in size. Small nodules are less than 10 millimeters (<1cm) in diameter, the size of a pea 1, whereas large nodules can be larger than 30 millimeters (3cm), the size of a grape.2
While most nodules are not cancer, nodules that are cancerous start off small and then continue to grow as the disease progresses. This is why it is important to identify and diagnose nodules as early as possible. With early diagnosis and treatment of cancer, long-term outcomes are greatly improved.
There are two primary types of lung nodules: benign (not cancer) and malignant (cancer).
Benign lung nodules can be caused by a variety of medical conditions, including 3:
Inflammation in the body that causes small clumps of cells to form in the lungs. These clumps of cells can harden during the healing process, which can make them appear as a nodule in an x-ray or CT scan.
Infections that leave scar tissue during the healing process.
Tumors, such as fibromas, hamartomas, neurofibromas, and blastomas that are all types of tumors that are not cancer.
Most cancerous lung nodules are caused by lung cancer. Other cancers like lymphomas, carcinoids, sarcomas, and metastatic tumors (tumors that have spread from another part of the body) are also known to cause cancerous lung nodules.