Incidental Lung Nodule Program
Lung nodules—small masses of tissue in the lung–are fairly common. In fact, nodules are often found during an imaging test that’s performed for another reason. For example, a lung nodule may be identified during a CT scan after a car accident.
A Watchful Eye on Lung Nodules
While most lung nodules are not cancerous, monitoring these incidental findings can help determine whether additional testing is warranted and possibly catch new cancers early when treatment options are most robust.
For these reasons, the Incidental Lung Nodule Program at the Statesir Cancer Center at CentraState was created – with a goal to proactively monitor incidental lung nodules and facilitate follow-up testing if needed. The center’s dedicated medical professionals maintain and monitor a database of patients with identified lung nodules and notify patients and their physicians when follow-up low-dose CT scans are necessary. The results of any follow-up tests are shared with your referring doctor. This “watchful eye” helps ensure any changes in your lung nodule are detected as soon as possible. If follow-up care or treatment is required, you will be referred to your physician or a specialist for care. The program’s providers do not diagnose conditions or provide treatment.
Lung Nodule Q&A
Lung nodules—also called pulmonary nodules—are small masses of tissue in the lung. They appear as round, white shadows on a CT scan or chest X-ray and can be found on up to 50% of all lung computerized tomography (CT) scans.
Most lung nodules are benign (not cancerous) and the average nodule is smaller than three centimeters (about 1.2 inches) in diameter. Larger lung nodules—those that are 30 millimeters or larger—are more likely to be cancerous than smaller ones. Risk factors for cancerous lung nodules include a history of smoking and advanced age.
It’s important to identify and monitor nodules over time to ensure the earliest possible cancer diagnosis and treatment. If a nodule is detected on an imaging test, it’s helpful to compare your current scan with a previous one. If the nodule is new or has changed in size, shape, or appearance, your doctor may recommend additional testing—such as a CT scan, bronchoscopy, positron emission tomography (PET) scan, or tissue biopsy—to determine if it is cancerous.
Lung nodules may disappear on their own. If the nodule doesn’t change in size, shape, or appearance in two years, it’s probably noncancerous. These stable nodules are often caused by previous infections or inflammation and usually don’t require treatment.
We also can monitor patients who have lung nodules that were identified at other hospitals or outpatient clinics. Once enrolled in the program, you will receive reminders for follow-up scans to monitor your nodule’s progression. The results of any follow-up tests are shared with your referring doctor. If follow-up care or treatment is required, you will be referred to your physician or a specialist for care.