What Are Lung Nodules?

Lung nodules are small masses of tissue in the lung that appear as round, white spots on a chest X-ray or computed tomography (CT) scan. Lung nodules are quite common, and most of them are benign, or noncancerous.

Benign nodules don’t require any treatment, but your physician will monitor any changes in size with follow-up scans. If the nodule appears to remain the same size, it is likely not cancerous. You have a greater chance of having a benign lung nodule if you are a nonsmoker, under 40 years of age, and there is calcium in the tissue.

Some nodules, however, may require evaluation to determine if they are malignant (cancerous). Lung nodules are usually 5 mm to 25 mm in size, but the larger nodules (larger than 25 mm) are more likely to be cancerous than the smaller ones.

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