How are benign lung nodules diagnosed?

How are benign lung nodules diagnosed?

The smaller the nodule, the more likely it is to be benign. It is important to find out as early as possible whether a lung nodule is benign or malignant (cancerous). Catching cancer before it can spread will greatly improve one’s chances of controlling the disease.

  • A way to tell the difference between a benign and malignant lung nodule is to chart the rate of growth of the nodule. Benign nodules will grow very slowly, if at all, while cancerous nodules on average can double in size every four months or less.
  • Another way to tell a benign lung nodule from a malignant one is to test its calcification, or calcium content. Benign nodules have higher calcium content and are normally smoother and more regularly shaped. Benign nodules have a more even color pattern than malignant nodules. Malignant nodules are often seen to have irregular shapes, rougher surfaces, and color variations or speckled patterns.
  • A series of X-rays or CT (computed tomography) scans over a period of time can be used in diagnosis.
  • In some cases, a biopsy (tissue sample) may be taken by using a needle or surgical incision.
  • Analysis of a patient’s sputum (matter coughed up from air passages) can also provide information for diagnosis.