Asymptomatic lung nodules are usually discovered incidentally after chest X-ray or computed tomography. These nodules, which can be mostly benign, are more common than anticipated. It is of great importance to diagnose lung nodules with cancer risk as early as possible and to carry out the necessary follow-ups. Prof. from Memorial Şişli Hospital Lung Nodule Center. Dr. Mustafa Yaman gave important information about lung nodules.
A nodule is an abnormal, abnormal-looking tissue growth. Pulmonary nodules are defined as abnormal tissue growths in the lung with a diameter of 1-30 millimeters. Thanks to the developing technology and imaging systems, the presence of nodules can be found as a result of lung cancer screening tests or another disease. Nodules over 1 centimeter can be detected on chest radiography, and nodules below 1 centimeter can be detected on computed tomography. A patient who is found to have a nodule in the lungs in the radiology report may panic. What needs to be done is to consult a specialist doctor immediately. In addition, the risk group of the nodule is examined and the necessary follow-up planning is made.
Past infections are among the causes
The detailed medical history of the patient is important in the diagnosis of nodules in the lungs. Infectious diseases caused by bacteria, fungi or parasites can cause lung nodules. Infectious diseases are also common in our country. Tuberculosis can also often cause nodules and tissue disorders in the lungs. It is also important to know if the person smokes. It is known that malignant lung nodule is associated with tobacco consumption. In order to determine the exact location and exact features of the nodule, it should be examined with various imaging techniques. The shape and size of the nodule are important to distinguish between a benign and possibly malignant nodule. A biopsy is also sometimes done to analyze the tissue to determine the exact cause of the nodule in the lungs.
Not every nodule in the lung is cancer, but…
One or more nodules may be seen in the lungs. There may also be nodules in appearances called ground glass. Not every nodule seen in the lung is cancer, but catching a nodule with a high risk of cancer at an early stage is of great importance for the treatment of lung cancer. The earlier the nodule is detected, the higher the success rate of treatment.
Regular follow-up of lung nodules is very important.
There are 3 types of risk groups in lung nodules as low and high. If the person is in the low risk group, they should be kept under follow-up. The follow-up period of a nodule, especially a nodule with a ground-glass appearance, takes up to 5 years, even in the low-risk group. These follow-ups should be carried out under the control of experienced specialists, using advanced radiological imaging systems, without causing panic and fear, and without unnecessary interventions.
Smoking increases the risk of cancer
Factors such as smoking, age, and gender can also increase the risk of cancer. If the person is over 55 years old and smokes 1 pack of cigarettes a day, if there is no calcification finding in the nodule seen in the patient, if the nodule is close to the chest wall and its shape is indented, it is in the high risk group. This risk increases as the amount of cigarettes consumed and age increase. Other important criteria are family history of lung cancer, presence of emphysema, degree of hardness of the nodule, size of the nodule and some radiological features. The earlier high-risk lung nodules are detected, the higher the chance of treatment.
Cancer can be detected at an early stage with liquid biopsy
The size of the lung nodules also provides information about the nodules. When a nodule below 6 millimeters is detected, it is sufficient to follow up with computed tomography once a year. The lung nodule is between 6 and 8 millimeters, and in the high-risk group, it is followed every 3 months. Nodules larger than 8 millimeters and in the high-risk group require PET-CT examination to make a full diagnosis. According to the result of PET-CT, whether the nodule is lung cancer or not, biopsy can be performed if necessary. If necessary, liquid biopsy can also be performed. Liquid biopsy results, which have been started to be applied with the development of technology, can give accurate results close to certainty. Liquid biopsy; It is a test performed to detect tumor cells in the body or cell fragments broken off from them, as well as DNA and RNA in the bloodstream. It does not require a surgical intervention. The procedure is performed only with 10 ml of blood taken from the arm.