What Are Benign Pulmonary (Lung) Nodules?

What Are Benign Pulmonary (Lung) Nodules

There are several possible explanations for benign lung nodules. These include inflammation from diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and past and present lung infections.

A lung nodule is a smaller than 3-centimeter-long growth in the lung. The majority are benign, or noncancerous, and exhibit no symptoms.

While most lung nodules don't need to be taken seriously, your doctor might want to follow up on a nodule for a few years with routine CT scans to check for growth.

What are the symptoms of a benign lung nodule?

When a benign lung nodule appears on a diagnostic scan, almost 95% of patients are asymptomatic. If you do experience symptoms, the underlying cause of the nodule is typically the cause of those symptoms.

A doctor may be able to distinguish between a benign (noncancerous) and malignant (cancerous) nodule based on the size and shape of the lesion after a CT scan.

Benign nodules are typically smooth, rounded, less than 8 mm in diameter, borderless, and calcified (made harder with calcium).

Malignant nodules are usually bigger, irregularly shaped, bumpy (lobulated) or spikey (spiculated), and have a clearly defined boundary. They also frequently reside in the lung's higher lobes.

There are two types of lung nodules: numerous nodules and solitary lung nodules.

What causes benign lung nodules, and who’s at risk of them?

Benign pulmonary nodules may result from inflammation brought on by a variety of illnesses, such as:
  • bacterial or fungal infections
  • scar tissue
  • Hamartomas, or little clusters of healthy cells
  • lung abscesses and lung cysts
  • inflammatory diseases, such as sarcoidosis or rheumatoid arthritis
Prior infection is the most frequent cause of a benign nodule. There are instances where the lung nodule's cause is unclear.

Lung nodules after COVID-19

3–12% of patients with COVID-19 infections may show nodules on their CT scans, according to research.

How can a physician determine whether a lung nodule is benign?

Most lung nodules are unintentionally found by doctors during a CT scan or chest X-ray for another purpose. On the scan, they appear as white patches.

A CT scan or chest X-ray can reveal nodules in up to half of adult patients, according to the American Thoracic Society.

The majority of little lung nodules are benign and never develop into a malignancy. However, a benign lung nodule has the potential to turn cancerous over time.

More likely to develop is a malignant nodule:
  • if you’re older
  • if the nodule is large
  • if you currently smoke or have ever smoked
  • if lung cancer runs in your family.
  • if you have ever been around asbestos, radon, or secondhand smoke
Your doctor may want to keep an eye on your nodule over time to see if it grows if you have any of these risk factors. Usually, nodules smaller than 6 mm don't need to be routinely monitored.

A nodule that develops over time may be cancerous.

A biopsy is a sample of the nodule that is taken under a microscope by a doctor to diagnose a malignant lesion. Small nodules are typically not recommended for biopsies by doctors.

How do doctors treat benign lung nodules?

Benign lung nodules typically don't need to be removed or treated. Over several months or years, a doctor may request additional CT scans to check for any changes in the nodule's size. We refer to this as active monitoring.

Surgeons may have to remove nodules if they become large enough to cause symptoms or if they turn out to be malignant.

How fast do benign lung nodules grow?

Typically, benign lung nodules don't grow. Even if they are cancerous, their growth will be quite gradual.

Gaining more size from a nodule takes several months. It is deemed secure to postpone the subsequent CT scan for a few months. If the nodule proves to be malignant, waiting shouldn't have an impact on your course of treatment or your prospects of recovery.


Is it normal to have benign nodules in the lungs?

Nodules in the lungs are not uncommon. Nearly one out of every 500 chest X-rays shows them to medical professionals. Eighty to ninety percent of CT (computed tomography) scans reveal them.

Do benign lung nodules need to be removed?

The majority of small, non-cancerous lung nodules respond well to no therapy. If you have an infection, you might need to take antibiotics or antifungal drugs. You might require surgery if the nodule becomes larger, causes issues, or is malignant.

Is a 4mm lung nodule serious?

Small nodules (less than 9 mm) are typically not cancerous, however, they can be signs of early malignancy. The two best methods to determine whether a tiny nodule is potentially cancerous are: 1. Observing its appearance on the LDCT scan; and 2.

Can benign lung nodules shrink?

Unlike malignant lung nodules, benign lung nodules: Won't spread to other body areas. can shrink, halt growing, or grow slowly.


Tiny growths called benign lung nodules can develop in the lungs. Most lung nodules don't produce symptoms or need treatment, and the great majority aren't malignant.

If a nodule on your lung is discovered by your doctor during a chest X-ray or CT scan, they might advise additional scans to check whether the lesion grows over time.

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