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Solitary Pulmonary Nodule

Solitary Pulmonary Nodule Overview

A solitary pulmonary nodule (SPN) is a single abnormality in the lung that is smaller than 3 cm in diameter. Generally, a pulmonary nodule must grow to at least 1 cm in diameter before it can be seen on a chest X-ray film.

A solitary pulmonary nodule is surrounded by normal lung tissue and is not associated with any other abnormality in the lung or nearby lymph nodes (small, bean-shaped structures found throughout the body).

Persons with solitary pulmonary nodules usually do not experience symptoms. Solitary pulmonary nodules are usually noticed by chance on a chest X-ray film that has been taken for another reason (referred to as an incidental finding). Solitary pulmonary nodules are one of the most common abnormalities seen on chest X-ray films. Approximately 150,000 cases are detected every year as incidental findings, either on X-ray films or CT scans.

Most solitary pulmonary nodules are benign (noncancerous); however, they may represent an early stage of primary lung cancer or may indicate that cancer is metastasizing (spreading) from another part of the body to the lung. Determining whether the solitary pulmonary nodule seen on the chest X-ray film or chest CT scan is benign or malignant (cancerous) is important. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of early lung cancer that presents as solitary pulmonary nodule may be the only chance to cure the cancer.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/25/2013

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Solitary Pulmonary Nodule - Cause

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Solitary Pulmonary Nodule »

Patients with solitary pulmonary nodules (SPNs) are usually asymptomatic; however, SPNs pose a challenge to both physicians and patients.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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