Nodules In Lungs Symptoms, Causes and Treatment Options

Nodules are small or medium sized tissue growth in lungs. They are also called pulmonary nodules. Nodules are quiet common and they can be noticed as shadows on X-ray chest and on CT scan. The oval shaped growth is termed as nodule if it is less than 3 centimeter in diameter.

If the growth is large than this, it is referred as lung mass or pulmonary mass. Most lung nodules are non cancerous, however, some may turn out to be cancerous. Often small nodules are incidental findings on chest x-ray. According to an estimate at least 200000 cases of lung nodules are detected each year in United States. Nodules in lung can be symptomatic or asymptomatic depending on the severity of the underlying cause. Treatment of nodules depends on the cause. Benign nodules usually do not require any treatment. If it is caused due to an infection, appropriate medical treatment is aimed to cure the infection. In case of cancerous nodule, it may need surgical removal.


There are numerous causes that are responsible for development of nodules in lung. Some of the leading causes are as follows:

  • Neoplasm: Lung nodule an abnormal growth in lung can be cancerous or non cancerous. Benign neoplasm can be neurofibroma, blastoma, hamartoma etc. Cancerous node in lung can be lung cancer, lymphoma, sarcoma etc.
  • Infections: Many lung infections can present with nodules. For example lung nodes are observed in bacterial infection such as tuberculosis of lung. Fungus infection such as aspergillosis, histoplasmosis, blastomycosis etc may have lung nodules. Even parasitic infections can cause lung nodes.
  • Inflammation: Lung nodules can also occur in inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and sarcoidosis.
  • Nodes in lung can be observed in infections such as pneumonia and lung abscess.
  • Hydatid cyst is a cystic growth caused from tapeworm infestation. It can be present in liver and lung.

Symptoms of Nodes in Lung Tissue:

Most lung nodules are asymptomatic, meaning they do not produce any symptoms. They are usually noticed accidentally on X-ray of chest or other imaging techniques such as CT scan or MRI of lung. Symptoms if any are those of the underlying lung disease. These symptoms include as follows:

  • Difficulty in breathing on slightest exertion. This may especially occur when there are many nodules present in lung tissue. If the nodes are present in the bronchi or the air passage breathlessness may be more severe.
  • Cough and blood in sputum may be present.
  • Pleural effusion or presence of fluid in the lung pleura can be observed. It can develop in infection of lung as well as inflammatory lung disease. Pleural effusion can also occur if the lung nodule is malignant.
  • Patient may complain of chest pain, fever and weight loss.

Diagnosis and treatment:

Lung nodule is a radiological finding. This means it can be detected on chest X-ray or CT scan and MRI of lung. The node may be seen as a white soft spot or a shadow on X-ray.

Treatment of lung nodule depends on the underlying cause. In some cases patient may need only monitoring of the nodule size and shape etc. The doctor may recommend X-ray or CT scan after certain period to know whether the node has increased in size or has regressed. If the node is found to be due to bacterial infection such as tuberculosis, appropriate medicines are given to the patient to treat the condition. If the node is malignant, it may need surgical removal from the lung. Besides medicines and surgery, other alternative therapies also will help to strengthen lung breathing.

Deep breathing exercise and yoga are beneficial to improve lung capacity.