Causes of lung spots

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Causes of lung spots
Causes of lung spots (thorax x-ray of the lungs image by JoLin from Fotolia.com)

Lung spots are more common than most people think. Many are produced by harmless scarring in the lungs caused by respiratory infections in the lungs. However, lung spots may point to a much more serious condition such as cancer or fungus that should be treated immediately.

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Facts

A lung spot is a mark that is evident on a CT scan or X-ray of your lungs. Lung spots can have a variety of causes and not all of them are cause for alarm. However, your physician will likely keep monitoring your lung spots to make sure that they are not evidence of a serious condition such as cancer. If you are diagnosed with having one or more lung spots, discuss all of the possibilities with your doctor and try to stay calm while your results come back. Lung spot are actually quite common.

Types

Lung spots are usually nodules in the lung that are caused by infection, inflammation or a tumour. Granulomas are one of the more common causes of lung spots. Granulomas are simply scarring in the lungs that are caused by infections of the lungs with inflammation severe enough to cause scarring. According to National Jewish Medical and Research Center, granulomas can also be caused by fungus (usually either coccidioidomycosis or histoplasmosis). The other cause of lung spots is a malignant or benign tumour.

Identification

There are three primary ways to identify your particular type of lung spot. The most common and least invasive way to determine the cause of a lung spot is to monitor the spot using a CT scan. If it changes over time, it is likely a tumour. If it stays the same, it is more likely a granuloma. If the spot increases in size a transthoracic needle aspiration biopsy (TNAB) will the taken to further test for cancer. The third primary type of analysis to determine the cause of a lung spot is a total physical examination. The results of an examination will lead your physician to indicators of particular types of diseases.

Prevention/Solution

Some causes of lung spots are unavoidable. However, to minimise your chances of developing a lung spot, do not smoke. The damage that smoking does to the lung can easily lead to cancer and other serious diseases such as emphysema. Another prevention method is treating respiratory diseases and infections promptly to prevent scarring. Also, avoid working with asbestos, and if you must work with it, be sure to use the proper precautions and masks to avoid breathing asbestos particles into your lungs.

Warning

It is important to take lung spots seriously, especially if you have a history of smoking or exposure to asbestos. If lung spots are discovered in an unrelated CT scan or chest X-ray, be sure to follow-up with your physician about them. While granulomas that do not cause harm are fairly common, if a malignant tumour should be present in your lungs, treatment for cancer must be started immediately because lung cancer is one of the deadliest and fastest types of cancer to spread.

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