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

15 NCCN Guidelines for Patients ® : Lung Cancer – Non-Small Cell, 2018 2 Assessing lung nodules Signs of cancer Signs of cancer Imaging tests make pictures of the insides of the body. CT ( c omputed t omography) and PET ( p ositron e mission t omography) are types of imaging tests. A CT machine is shown in Figure 5 . Sometimes, a lung nodule is found by chance with an imaging test. Your doctors will review images to decide if the nodule may be cancer. Important test results are the features of the nodule, abnormal lung tissue, and 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. Other very important features are the nodule size and density. Size Nodules with cancer often grow faster and are larger than ones without cancer. Thus, nodules that are large are more likely to be cancer than small nodules. Density 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. To confirm that cancer is present, a biopsy is needed. Figure 5 CT machine Pictures of the insides of your body can be made with an imaging test. During the scan, you will lie on a table that will move into the tunnel of the imaging machine. The pictures will be viewed by a doctor who will look for signs of cancer. Copyright © 2017 National Comprehensive Cancer Network ® (NCCN ® ).