Overview of Solitary Pulmonary Nodule
A Solitary Pulmonary Nodule is a small abnormality that is located in the lung. This abnormality is usually under three millimeter in diameter. In a chest x-ray, an abnormality must be at least one millimeter before it is detected. A Solitary Pulmonary Nodule is typically surrounded by normal lung tissues and there are typically no other abnormalities in the lungs or lymph nodes. Solitary Pulmonary Nodules typically do not experience any symptoms and are only noticed by chance during an x-ray. They are typically noncancerous but can be an indication of the early stages of lung cancer. A prompt diagnosis or treatment of lung cancer is essential.
Symptoms of Solitary Pulmonary Nodule
There are typically no symptoms of Solitary Pulmonary Nodules. They are typically only noticed in chest x-rays by chance. This happens when someone has a chest x-ray for another reason. Once the Solitary Pulmonary Nodule has been identified, your physician will want to look for other cancers or to continue to watch to see if lung cancer is going to be detected.
Causes of Solitary Pulmonary Nodule
Solitary Pulmonary Nodules can be caused from a variety of reasons. A neoplastic cause, meaning an abnormal growth that is benign or malignant, can be from lung cancer, carcinoid, lymphoma, metastasis, hamartoma, sarcoma, neurofibroma, or blastoma. It can also be caused from bacteria, fungi, lung abscess, hydatid cyst, or round pneumonia.
Solitary Pulmonary Nodules can also be caused by a variety of inflammatory or noninfectious causes too. These may be from rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, granulomatosis with polyangiitis, or a lipoid.
Congenital causes may be from arteriovenous malformation, lung cysts, or sequestration.
Other causes may pulmonary infarct, mucoid impaction, progressive massive fibrosis, or round atelectasis.
Risk Factors of Solitary Pulmonary Nodule
The risk of Solitary Pulmonary Nodule increases with age. For example, it is only 3% at 35-39 years old and increases to over 50% in people over the age of 60 years old.
If you are a smoker or a prior smoker, then your chance for Solitary Pulmonary Nodule increases as well. It is essential that you quit smoking immediately.
People that have previously had cancer are at risk of Solitary Pulmonary Nodule or even having other areas of the body have cancer as well.
If you have been exposed to things such as asbestos, nickel, radon, vinyl chloride, chromium, or polycyclic hydrocarbons, then you are at risk for Solitary Pulmonary Nodule.
In some cases, travel exposes you to the risk of Solitary Pulmonary Nodule. If you have traveled to an area that has endemic mycosis or tuberculosis, then ask your physician.
Diagnosis of Solitary Pulmonary Nodule
Blood tests are not able to lead to a diagnosis. There are a few other tests that your physician may recommend to determine whether the Solitary Pulmonary Nodule is benign or malignant.
Your physician may start by testing you for anemia, or low levels of hemoglobin. Low levels of hemoglobin may indicate that you have an underlying cancer or infectious disease. If you have elevated levels of liver enzymes, serum calcium, or alkaline phosphatase, then this may show that you Solitary Pulmonary Nodule is at risk for being cancerous or is spreading to other parts of the body. It most commonly spreads to other areas such as the liver, bones, or lungs.
Chest x-rays or computerized tomography (CT) scans are the first way to detect Solitary Pulmonary Nodules. A CT scan is the most accurate way to confirm the location of the nodule. The nodule must be at least one millimeter to be detected on a chest x-ray, and most of the time this is detected as the physician is scanning for something else in the chest. Solitary Pulmonary Nodules are usually around eight to ten millimeters in diameter. These imaging tests can show so much information, such as shape, cavitation, growth rate, size, and calcification pattern. Your physician will study this to see more information about your Solitary Pulmonary Nodules. While a chest x-ray may be the first step to diagnosis, a CT scan is the better option to see a clear picture.
In some cases, a positron emission tomography (PET) scan may be done to measure the activity in the cells. Malignant nodules absorb more of the drugs than cancerous ones. This test is extremely accurate.
After the initial testing is done, your physician may recommend a biopsy. During this type of test, your physician will take a sample of the cells from your lungs and examine them under the microscope.
A bronchoscopy is typically recommended for people who have Solitary Pulmonary Nodules located near the walls of the airways. This test is done by inserting a bronchoscope dose the mouth or nose and through the windpipe.
Treatment of Solitary Pulmonary Nodule
The main form of treatment for Solitary Pulmonary Nodules is surgery. This will remove the nodules, and can be done through open lung surgery or video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery.
Follow up from this type of diagnosis is essential. It is also important to do your best in preventing Solitary Pulmonary Nodules. If you are a smoker, then it is essential that you quit smoking now. Quitting will aid in reducing your chances of cancer drastically, even if you have been a smoker for years. When you are looking for places to travel, focus on going to places that how low amounts of mycosis and tuberculosis cases. If you work in an environment with exposures that can lead to lung cancer, you may want to look into another career or take the necessary precautions.
Most of the time Solitary Pulmonary Nodules are benign, but it is important to treat them or monitor them anyway, as they may be an early indicator to lung cancer. The best chance for curing lung cancer is a prompt diagnosis and treatment. If you believe that you are at risk, then speak to your physician about routine screening since Solitary Pulmonary Nodules do not have any symptoms and most people will not know that they have them.