Providence Lung Nodule Clinic

Providence Lung Nodule Clinic is designed to identify a customized plan for patients with a lung nodule.

What is a pulmonary nodule?

Lung_NoduleA pulmonary nodule, also called a lung nodule, is a "spot" on the lungs that is seen on a chest X-ray or CT scan. A CT scan is an imaging test that creates pictures of the inside of the body. If there is only 1 spot, it's called a "single" (or "solitary") pulmonary nodule.

A single pulmonary nodule usually causes no symptoms. People find out they have it after they have a chest X-ray or CT scan done for another reason.

What causes a pulmonary nodule?

A pulmonary nodule is caused by either:

  • A condition that is not cancer – In most cases, a pulmonary nodule is not cancer. It is a growth, small area of infection, or old scar in the lungs. Some medical terms for these things include "granuloma," which is an area of inflammation, and "hamartoma," which is a non-cancerous growth.
  • Cancer – A pulmonary nodule can be lung cancer, which is when normal cells in the lungs change into abnormal cells and grow out of control. It can also be cancer that started in another part of the body and then spread to the lungs.

What if a nodule is likely to be cancer?

If there is a high chance that your pulmonary nodule is cancer, your doctor may recommend surgery, biopsy or radiation.

What if a nodule is likely not cancer?

  • Your doctor may order a PET scan, a biopsy or repeat CT scan. 
  • If the nodule is smaller than 1/3 of an inch, or if the PET scan shows that the nodule is unlikely to be cancer, we will monitor your nodule and likely repeat a CT scan in 3 to 6 months.

Further tests are based on these results. For example, if you have a large lymph node (bean-shaped organ under your skin) on exam, you might need other tests.

How is my nodule monitored?

  • Scans are done depending on your individual situation. 
  • Most people have repeat CT scans once or twice a year for 2-3 years.