How To Avoid Pulmonary Nodules

Pulmonary nodules are growths in the lung. There are two types of pulmonary nodules: benign or malignant. These nodules are small and round, and they can also be called a “spot on the lung” or a coin lesion. Pulmonary nodules are small than three centimeters in diameter. If the growth is larger than that, then it is called a pulmonary mass and is more likely to represent a type of cancer than a nodule. 

How Common Are Pulmonary Nodules? 

Countless pulmonary nodules are discovered each year during chest x-rays or CT scans. Fortunately, most nodules are benign, so they are noncancerous. A solitary pulmonary nodule is found in 0.2% of all chest x-rays. Lung nodules can be found in up to half of all lung CT scans. Risk factors for malignant pulmonary nodules include a history of smoking and aging. 

What Causes Pulmonary Nodules? 

Over 90% of pulmonary nodules that are smaller than two centimeters in diameter are benign. Benign pulmonary nodules can have a variety of causes. Many of these causes are the result of inflammation in the lung as a result of an infection or a disease-producing inflammation in the body. A nodule may represent an active process or be the result of scar tissue formation related to prior inflammation. Developmental lesions that are benign may also appear as nodules. 


Most infections that appear as a cause of pulmonary nodules are mostly indolent and often not active. Some examples include mycobacterium such as mycobacterium tuberculosis mycobacterium avium intracellular, as well as fungal infections such as aspergillosis and histoplasmosis. Granulomas are usually formed as a result of infection. A granuloma is a small clump of cells that form when lung tissue becomes inflamed. These cells form when the immune system isolates substances that it considers foreign. Most of the time, granulomas occur in the lungs, but they are also prone to growing in other areas of the body. Over time, they might become calcified, as calcium tends to collect in the healing tissue. 


Neoplasms are abnormal growths that can be either benign or malignant. Types of benign neoplasms include fibroma, hamartoma, neurofibroma, and blastoma. Malignant tumors include lung cancer, lymphoma, carcinoid, sarcoma, and metastatic tumors. 

What Are the Symptoms of Pulmonary Nodules?

Usually, there are no symptoms associated with pulmonary nodules. If there are symptoms present, they would be related to the condition that led to the nodule developing in the first place. If the nodule is a result of lung cancer, the patient usually does not present any symptoms, but sometimes they might develop a new cough or cough up blood. Most of the time, patients are unaware that he or she has a lung nodule until a chest x-ray or computed tomography scan of the lungs is performed by a professional. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to prevent pulmonary nodules other than to not smoke. If you do smoke, it’s best to quit for the sake of your lungs and your overall health.