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Lung Cancer

Lung nodules

08/20/2007

Question:

my husband had a body scan in Feb which showed 2 nodules in lower left lobe of his lung measuring 2mm and 3mm each. Follow up scan 6 mos later showed they stayed the same size. His father just died from lung cancer, he grew up in a home where both parents smoked and he was a first responder on 9/11 and worked down at the site periodically for several months. He is being told to follow up with yearly scans. Shouldn`t he follow up more frequently? Would a pet scan be able to tell anything on nodules this small?

Answer:

A PET scan would not be helpful at this point.  The nodules have to be around 10mm before the PET is likely to be positive.  In the large lung cancer screening trials, nodules less than 5mm in size had a less than 5% chance of being malignant.  Your husband certainly should have these followed carefully.  If the follow up CT at 6 months was unchanged, then a yearly CT would be fine.

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Response by:

Sandra L Starnes, MD Sandra L Starnes, MD
Assistant Professor of Surgery
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati