Fewer than 5% of lung nodules turn out to be cancer according to the American Thoracic Society. Lung nodules are also called pulmonary nodules and can be either benign or cancerous.
Pulmonary (lung) nodules are growths on the lung, sometimes called a spot on the lung. These nodules are small and round and easy to find using diagnostic tools such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans. In some cases, however, these pulmonary nodules remain difficult to diagnose. While in some cases, they are early-stage cancer, in more cases than not they are a benign nodule that are completely harmless. Any growth on the lung that appears to be less than three centimeters earns the term nodule. However, if the growth appears larger than three centimeters, it is then called a mass. Any mass will undergo a different process of medical evaluation.
Cancerous lung nodules that turn out to be cancer can grow quickly and double in size every month to four months. These statistics prove why early detection remains critical for those who have risks for the development of lung cancer.
Causes of Lung Nodules
If a lung nodule is benign, they typically occur as a result from damage done on the lungs as a result of tuberculosis or fungal infection. If a lung nodule is cancerous, it can be the result of the development of lung cancer or as a result from a metastasized cancer beginning elsewhere in the body that has now spread to the lungs.
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Symptoms of Pulmonary (Lung) Nodules
Unfortunately, in most cases, most pulmonary nodules do not exhibit any symptoms until they develop into larger masses. In fact, most pulmonary nodules are often discovered completely by accident as a result of an X-ray or CT scan performed for some other reason entirely. This occurs in over 90% of all cases, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). The only other possible symptoms may include those that mimic a common cold or upper respiratory infection such as coughing, difficulty breathing, or feeling pressure or pain in the chest area. If you develop any of these symptoms, you should seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible.
Diagnosis of Lung Nodules
The best way to determine whether a lung nodule is benign or cancerous is to examine the rate of growth. Benign lung nodules that turn out to be cancer double in size quickly and this rate of growth is often identified easily through an X-ray or CT scan. Benign lung nodules rarely grow at all. Additionally, a medical professional may examine the calcification of the nodule. Benign lung nodules are smooth and evenly shaped, while cancerous lung nodules are irregular in shape, rougher, and have different color variations.
Treatment of Lung Nodules
Benign lung nodules do not require any type of treatment. However, when lung nodules turn out to be cancer, they are surgically removed through either video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, a mini-thoracotomy, or a thoracotomy. The prognosis for the patient undergoing these types of treatments will depend on their individual facts and circumstances, how large the lung nodules were, and whether or not any cancer metastasized to other areas of the patient’s body.
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Lung Nodules and Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, and often appears as nodules with defined boundaries. Mesothelioma typically occurs as a result of exposure to asbestos, which is a soft mineral found in the ground and used in construction and other industries. Additionally, some talc-containing products also contain asbestos as asbestos mines, and talc mines are often found in the Earth near each other.
While the American Cancer Society reports that lung cancer is the second-most common cancer in the United States, malignant mesothelioma is a much more rare type of cancer. However, if you have had any kind of exposure to asbestos in any way, you should alert your doctor so that they can make sure to give you a proper evaluation and provide the correct medical diagnostic tests for a proper diagnosis.
An Attorney Can Help
If you developed mesothelioma or cancerous lung nodules as a result of your exposure to asbestos or talc-containing products, learn how an attorney at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 217-6099 can help you. Contact our legal team today for your free consultation and discuss your case with us.