NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer - page 16

16
NCCN Guidelines for Patients
®
: Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Version 1.2014
Part 2: Lung nodules
2.2 Lung imaging results
Imaging tests make pictures of the insides of the body.
CT (
c
omputed
t
omography) and PET (
p
ositron
e
mission
t
omography) are imaging tests used to make pictures of
the insides of the lungs. You may have had one or both
of these tests. The test results that doctors use to help
decide if the nodule may be cancer are:
Test results
Features of the nodule
Abnormal lung tissue
PET hot spots
Features of the nodule
Nodules caused by cancer have specific traits. First, they
aren’t likely to have calcium buildup. Second, they often
have rough edges and odd shapes. Third, they often
grow faster and are larger in size than nodules without
cancer. Thus, nodules that are large are more likely to be
cancer than small nodules.
The density of the nodule is also assessed to decide
if the nodule may be cancer. Non-solid nodules have
low density. Solid nodules have high density. Part-solid
nodules have both high and low areas of density. Part-
solid nodules are found less often than solid nodules, but
more of them are caused by cancer. On the other hand,
solid nodules that are cancer grow faster than part-solid
nodules that are cancer.
Abnormal lung tissue
Besides nodules, your doctors will look at your imaging
results for other abnormal findings. The imaging tests
may show tissue inflammation, tissue scarring, or
both. The nodule is more likely to be cancer if there’s
inflammation or scarring than if neither is present.
PET hot spots
PET shows how your cells are using a simple form of
sugar. To create the pictures, a sugar radiotracer is put
into your body. The radiotracer emits a small amount of
energy that is detected by the imaging machine. Cancer
appears brighter (“hotter”) in the pictures, because
cancer cells use sugar more quickly than normal cells.
Hot spots suggest that cancer is present.
Figure 3. Computed tomography
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