Lung Nodule: Overview

A lung nodule is also called a spot on your lung (pulmonary nodule). It is usually round or oval in shape. They are easy to find but can be hard to diagnose.

Nodules can be present in your body years before they are discovered by a doctor. Doctors find lung nodules on one out of every 500 chest x-rays. Most nodules (more than 60 percent) are not cancerous. They are usually discovered on a chest X-ray or a CT scan.

Non-cancerous nodules can be caused by previous infections or old surgery scars.

Nodules need to be examined and watched closely because they could become cancerous. Eighty percent of patients who have cancerous nodules (1 cm in size) removed live at least five years after the diagnosis. Patients with larger cancerous nodules have a lower survival rate, so early detection is the key to survival.



Nearly 90 percent of all lung nodules are discovered incidentally. Usually they are seen on chest X-rays or CT scans that are performed for other reasons. Symptoms are few if any, but may include those similar to a chest cold or a mild flu. 

Learn about biopsy and treatment for lung nodules.

More Lung Nodule Information

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Lung Nodule Clinic

The Lung Nodule Clinic is led by Ali I. Musani, MD, who is the only fellowship-trained interventional pulmonologist in the Rocky Mountain region.

Learn more.