Lung Nodules

Lung nodules, or pulmonary nodules, are small masses of tissue found in the lung. These growths vary in size but are most commonly between .2 and 1.2 inches— equivalent to the size of a pen tip to a little larger than a quarter coin. The smaller the nodule, the less harmful it tends to be to your overall health. For example, if you have a lung nodule that is less than .2 inches in diameter, your risk of lung cancer is less than 1 percent.

Lung nodules are often the result of residual scarring, which can be caused by smoking, previous lung infections or exposure to irritants in the air. Roughly 90 percent of all lung nodules are ultimately deemed non-cancerous. However, it’s important to complete any recommended tests and follow-up screenings to ensure the growth is not currently and doesn’t develop into cancer.


More often than not, lung nodules do not present any detectable signs or symptoms. In cases where symptoms are present, you may experience: 
  • Coughing 
  • Wheezing 
  • Shortness of breath  
  • Fever (if pneumonia is present)


Because symptoms are rare, most lung nodules are found accidently on a CT scan or chest X-ray or during an intentional screening. Healthy non-smokers are at a low risk for developing malignant lung nodules, and don’t need to undergo regular screenings.

According to guidelines established by the Fleischner Society, smokers and former smokers between the ages of 55 and 77 with a 30+ pack-year history are considered high-risk patients and should consult their doctor about their screening options. If you have a family history of lung cancer, you should also consider getting screened.

If a CT scan reveals that a nodule is present, your doctor will evaluate the size of the growth as well as your overall health and medical history to determine whether a biopsy is necessary. Follow-up screenings may be recommended by your doctor, and they may be conducted every 3, 6, 12 or 24 months depending on individual risk factors.


Growths due to infections like tuberculosis or cancer will be treated with a personalized plan from your doctor. This may include total surgical removal. If a nodule shows no cancerous markers and doesn’t grow, it will be managed without surgical treatment.

If you have a lung nodule, the Inspira Lung Nodule Program ensures that you have a comprehensive plan for follow-up screenings and, if needed, treatment. Pulmonologists with the program work in communication with your primary care physician. If cancer is diagnosed – Inspira offers a multidisciplinary program for the treatment of lung cancer.

If you’d like more information about your care, or to receive a second opinion about a diagnosis, call 1-800-INSPIRA.

Why Choose Inspira?

Lung Cancer Screening Center of Excellence designated by the Lung Cancer Alliance

Inspira offers convenient locations for low-dose CT scan screening. Men and women ages 55 to 77 who are current smokers or who previously smoked with a 30+ pack-year history should talk to their doctor about screening.

A Comprehensive Approach to Lung Nodule Care

Inspira’s physicians take a multi-faceted approach to detecting, diagnosing and treating potentially malignant lung nodules by looking at your condition from a holistic perspective. Whether you’re just beginning treatment or are a cancer-free survivor, we take everything—genetics, lifestyle habits and other risk factors—into account when designing your care plan. By treating the whole person rather than just the condition itself, we’re able to offer a more targeted, personalized experience.

Compassionate Support When You Need It Most

Discovering that you have a lung nodule can be frightening and overwhelming. That’s why we provide in-depth patient information and a built-in support system of dedicated nurses and physicians so you don’t have to deal with your diagnosis alone.