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What Are Lung Nodules?

Lung nodules, aka pulmonary nodules, are abnormal growths that can sometimes form on the lungs, and are usually discovered through an X-ray or CT imaging. Obviously, the notion of anything “abnormal” growing in such a vital organ can be a disturbing thought. But according to most studies, only about 5% of lung nodules are actually found to be cancerous. The vast majority of cases—whether you have one nodule or several—prove to be benign and non life threatening. About half of all adults who undergo a chest scan will have at least one nodule . . . so it’s also quite common. Even so, when it comes to our respiratory health, it’s always wise to follow all precautions to ensure that any potential risks are properly discovered, diagnosed, and, if need be, expertly treated.

At Southeastern Med, we’ve recently created a unique lung nodule clinic specifically for patients with this type of concern. If one or more lung nodules are observed during an X-ray or scan, we’ll make sure they’re carefully assessed as soon as possible. You’ll be able to meet with a certified pulmonary specialist within 3-5 days of a referral, and our pulmonologist will keep your primary care physician in the loop. Each step of the way, the clinic will also help each patient to navigate any biopsies or additional testing that may be needed.

The goal, as always, is to solve the issue efficiently and effectively. In most cases, no procedure will be required, as most lung nodules are benign and won’t require concentrated treatment. If the nodule is deemed cancerous or a risk to one’s health, however, our clinic may recommend a surgical option such as a thoracotomy or video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS).

Causes and Symptoms of Lung Nodules

Lung nodules won’t always have a clearly identifiable cause, and they’re often discovered before a patient notices any related symptoms. However, there are still some factors that can certainly contribute to their formation, and some warning signs that might suggest you need a pulmonary scan.

Smoking, of course, heightens the likelihood of nodule growth in the lungs, including a greater risk of cancer. People over the age of 65 are also more vulnerable, as are those who’ve had regular exposure to air pollution, second-hand smoke, or asbestos. Pre-existing respiratory infections, fungal infections, and autoimmune diseases can also increase one’s vulnerability.

While small lung nodules usually go unnoticed, larger nodules can sometimes lead to chest pain, a chronic cough, wheezing, hoarseness, fatigue, and in some cases, sudden weight loss or recurring respiratory infections (i.e., pneumonia or bronchitis). Whether these symptoms are a result of nodules or not, if they persist, you should certainly inform your physician to have them assessed.

To find out more about Southeastern Med’s lung nodule clinic, contact us today at 740.432.2144.

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