COPD and Lung Nodules

Last updated: June 2023

Frequent Question: “I have COPD and now the doctor said I have nodules. Is that part of COPD? Should I be scared?

What is a nodule?

However, I've been told nodules are a form of cancer, though hopefully benign. They are often seen while doing a CT scan for your COPD. When I had my scan, my pulmonologist said that I had a nodule. He said that in six months, they will redo a CT scan to see if the nodule is the same or if it’s changed and grown. I will have my follow up CT scan soon. Am I scared? No. When others have asked if they should be scared, I say no. We shorten our lives with worry, and I don’t care to give up any more life than I have to. When my turn comes and I have another CT scan, I’ll deal with it then.

Tests for and symptoms of nodules

A nodule is a small round growth on the lung. It is usually 3 centimeters or less. If it’s larger, it’s called a mass. This will often be treated as a cancer.

Benign tumors usually show little change or growth. Cancerous pulmonary tumors grow rather quick and can double in size every four months. This nodule is a sore that steadily engulfs more structures of the lung. Eventually we, as the patient, will feel short of breath, fatigued and may have chest pain. Cancerous tumors are usually rougher, with irregular shapes. Benign tumors are usually smoother and contain calcium.

CT Scans will often provide enough information for a diagnosis. However, a biopsy may be recommended. This is where they insert a needle and they get some of the tumor to view under the microscope or they would do a thoracotomy. This procedure is used to remove the diseased portion of the lung, which can be a sizable wedge.

Here are the “ABCs of Nodules”

from the University of Rochester Medical Center:

  • A is for Age. There are few cases before 35, most are after 45
  • B is for Before. Compare todays x-rays and/or CT Scan with those taken before, to note any changes
  • C is for Calcium. Nodules get their revealing shapes as a result of calcium
  • S is for Smoking. Did you used to smoke? Do you smoke now? If so, quit and get checked.

Smoking is often the common denominator between COPD and lung cancer. I think everyone knows about the connection between smoking and lung cancer, but to some people, COPD is something new. This is why it’s important to bring awareness and never, ever stop telling people that smoking can cause both COPD and lung cancer.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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