Finding out that you have a lung nodule is likely unanticipated and can be a stressful event. We're here to help; our team will provide you expert consultation on what this means and help develop a treatment plan that is right for you.
A nodule is a “spot” seen in the lung on an x-ray or CT (also called CAT) scan. Sometimes there is one nodule and sometimes there may be many.
In most situations, the spot is found when a chest x-ray or CT scan is done for other reasons.
Many things can cause a nodule and most nodules are not cancer. Just like your skin can have old scars, freckles and discolorations, the inside of the lungs can have a variety of things that cause spots. Nodules may include scars from prior infection or inflammation or non-cancerous tumors. Nodules may also be cancer.
No - most nodules are not cancer, though a few nodules will turn out to be cancer.
If the nodule has been present and unchanged for more than two-three years, cancer is very unlikely (less than 1% chance).
If the nodule is newly discovered, you may need a lung specialist (pulmonologist) to assess the risk of cancer in the nodule.
Your EvergreenHealth pulmonologist will work with a team to determine the nodule's risk for cancer. The team includes radiologists, chest surgeons, cancer specialists, respiratory therapists, nurses and a dedicated nurse navigator.
They will consider a lot of information to help determine the risk of cancer. This includes, but is not limited to:
Based on this information, the team can estimate whether there is a low, medium, or high risk of lung cancer in a nodule.
If the nodule has been known about and not changed in two-three years, then often nothing else needs to be done. In this situation, the nodule is not cancer.
If the nodule is newly discovered, EvergreenHealth’s Pulmonary Care Center Lung Nodule Clinic can help. In larger nodules that are higher risk for cancer, our goal is to see you and complete your evaluation as quickly, safely and thoughtfully as possible.
If the risk of cancer is low, you may need a few follow-up low-dose CT scans to make sure the nodule does not change. Depending on the size and features of the nodule, it might need to be followed for one-to-three years.
If the risk of cancer is intermediate or high, your pulmonologist may recommend a PET scan, lung function testing, and/or biopsy.
To make an appointment with the Lung Nodule Clinic, call EvergreenHealth Pulmonary Care at 425.899.6972.