What Is a Lung Nodule?

Written by stephanie fagnani
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Lung nodules are fairly common masses of abnormal tissue in the lungs. They can be caused by any type of infection that impacts the respiratory tract, such as fungal infections, tuberculosis or bronchitis. Lung nodules typically don't present any symptoms other than an occasional feeling of tightness in the chest.


According to Dr. Edward C. Rosenow III of the Mayo Clinic, most lung nodules are less than 1 inch, or 25mm, in size. Anything larger could be malignant.


Chest X-rays, CAT scans and biopsies are the best methods for determining whether a lung nodule is benign or malignant.


Lung cancer is often fatal if not caught in the early stages. The surgical removal of a malignant lung nodule is possible and can improve prognosis.

Fun Fact

The term nodule comes from a Latin word meaning "knot," according to WiseGeek.com, and lung nodules appear as white, circular shadows, or knots, on an X-ray.

Expert Insight

The University of Rochester Medical Center states that cancerous lung nodules often grow very quickly and are more irregularly shaped than benign lung nodules.

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