As human beings, our lungs are important. They must be healthy in order to function properly, and if our lungs do not function properly, we develop other health issues because our body is not getting the oxygen that it needs. Lung nodules are one of the many problems that you can develop.
What Is a Lung Nodule?
Lung nodules are small and round growths on a lungs. They can be seen very easily on X-rays as lung spots. Diagnosing these spots as lung nodules, however, is much more difficult.
Benign and Cancerous
It is important to diagnose these spots as soon as possible; they can be a sign of lung cancer in its earliest stages. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, 40 percent of all identified lung nodules are tested and are cancerous. Early detection and immediate treatment are crucial to an increase in the survival rate when the nodules are cancerous.
Benign, non-cancerous, lung nodules generally appear as scar tissue from an injury or infection of the lungs, like tuberculosis. It is not uncommon to expect that if you have had lung problems from one of these infections that you are likely going to have lung nodules, but this is not always the case.
Actual symptoms are difficult to pinpoint while they are still small. It isn't until after they have passed the 3 cm measurement and become masses that symptoms really start to appear. The reality is that the majority of lung nodules that are discovered before they grow and transform into masses are only discovered by accident; most nodules are discovered when X-rays are taken for other issues.
Misdiagnosis is common without X-ray proof. Those people who do experience symptoms are likely to be diagnosed with a simple flu virus or cold. Coughing and a feeling of chest congestion are the most common symptoms that are reported.
Early diagnosis is important to the treatment course that is given. Diagnosis must first prove if the nodules are benign or cancerous. This is usually only achieved through watching and measuring the growth rate of the nodules. If a nodule grows slowly, it is less likely to be cancerous, but a cancerous lung nodule will grow and reproduce rapidly.
Treatments vary depending on the lung nodules. Benign nodules can be left alone unless they are causing more pain and illness for the patient. For example, if a person has benign lung nodules and has developed chest cold symptoms that do not go away, removal may be recommended. Cancerous lung nodules require surgical removal, which is usually done through thoracoscopic surgery, but larger nodules or more nodules may require a complete removal of the damaged part of the lung.
If you suspect that you may have lung nodules, or if there is a hereditary link to lung cancer in your family, you should seek medical attention and proper testing right away. It is important to treat the nodules as soon as possible if they are cancerous. Relying on the occurrence of symptoms is not a good idea; symptoms rarely occur and can be easily confused with the common cold and flu.