The various forms of lung cancer are among the most lethal types of cancer. As the disease progresses, a wide range of increasingly dangerous symptoms appear. These symptoms include difficulty breathing and lower lung capacity. According to the Mayo Clinic, cancer can develop in lung nodules, small tissue masses that develop naturally in the lungs.
While most lung nodules are noncancerous, it is possible that they can cause cancer. Early detection and treatment is the best method of addressing the problem, which is why a Computed Tomography (CT) scan is recommended when there is a chance of having lung cancer.
Types of Lung Nodules
Lung nodules are tiny collections of tissue that appear in the lungs. They are usually less than 5mm in diameter, but they can grow larger. The larger nodules are more likely to be cancerous. These small differences in lung nodules show on CT scans and can indicate if a nodule is cancerous or not. The different types of lung nodules include:
- Noncancerous nodules: Noncancerous nodules can look just like the cancerous ones However, noncancerous nodules tend to be small and they grow very slowly, if at all. Your doctor needs to do repeated CT scans over a long period to monitor the growth rate.
- Cancerous nodules: Cancerous nodules grow extremely quickly. They can double in size every four months, so your doctor will conduct repeated CT scans to watch the growth rate.
- Small nodules: Nodules that are less than 5mm in size are considered small. The smaller a nodule is, the less likely it is to be cancerous.
- Large nodules: Any nodule that is more than 5mm in size is considered large. Larger nodules are more likely to be cancerous.
- Rough nodules: The surface of the nodule can also tell if it is cancerous. While it is not always the case, nodules with a rough surface are more likely to be cancerous.
There are many variations of lung nodules and not all of them are covered on this list. Any time that a nodule is discovered, it is imperative to see your doctor regularly to monitor it. Repeated analyses can lead to early detection and lifesaving treatment.
If a nodule looks suspicious on a CT scan, there is a chance that your doctor will want to do a biopsy. It is a surgical procedure to remove the nodule and examine them to see if they are cancerous. Biopsies are usually reserved for nodules that appear cancerous because it is a procedure that can put a lot of stress on the body. However, biopsies can be an effective way of preventing more serious illnesses. By removing a cancerous nodule, it reduces the chance of cancer spreading to other parts of the lung and body.
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Not All Cancers Show Up on CT Scans
While CT scans can be effective at detecting cancer in lung nodules, there are forms of cancer that will not show on a CT Scan. CT scans only show solid masses and very dense body parts. Because of this, it cannot see a lot of the soft tissue and tendons around the lungs. If cancer has spread to these areas, it will not show on a CT scan. CT scans generally do not provide a definitive answer as to whether or not a nodule is cancerous. This is because it can only see the basic features of the nodule, like size and general surface conditions. Despite this, CT scans are recommended for detecting lung cancer because they provide a lot of insight without the intrusiveness of a biopsy.
Clinical Signs of Cancerous Lung Nodules
Cancer can develop without the patient knowing that it is there. However, most forms of cancer cause clinical symptoms that indicate that it is growing. If you know what to look for, you can identify cancer in its earlier stages and get the treatment that you need to survive it. The clinical signs of cancerous lung nodules include:
- Trouble breathing: As cancerous nodules grow and multiply, they can reduce the lungs’ effectiveness. They restrict the amount of air that your lungs can process in each breath, making it harder to breathe.
- Coughing blood: Cancerous lung nodules can damage the other tissues in the lungs, spilling blood into the lungs. As a response to prevent drowning, your body will cough to expel the blood. This can be a sign of multiple serious and potentially life-threatening conditions and should be treated immediately.
- Chest or back pain: Pain in the chest or back around the lungs can indicate a problem in the lungs. This pain presents differently in everyone and should be investigated by a physician as soon as possible.
- Weight loss/loss of appetite: Fighting cancer can take a lot of energy but also reduces the patient’s appetite. As a result, many people who have cancer see significant weight loss.
There are more signs of lung cancer that are not included on this list. Any of these signs indicates a serious problem may be developing. See a physician as soon as possible to ensure that you get the right diagnosis and treatment.
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If you or someone that you know has a history of problems with lung nodules and lung cancer, contact our firm today to discuss your case with a member of our team. The problems that you experienced may be the result of exposure to chemicals or other problems. Call the legal team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 217-6099 to see if you have a case.