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NCCN Guidelines for Patients



Lung Cancer Screening, Version 1.2017


What happens after the first test? Types of lung nodules

Types of lung nodules

Screening with LDCT is used to find nodules in the

lungs. Nodules are small, round areas of abnormal

tissue. Nodules can be caused by cancer, infection,

scar tissue, or other conditions. Most nodules found

on LDCT are not cancer (benign). People can have

one lung nodule or more than one nodule found

during screening.

Lung nodules:



Have features that can be used to tell if it is

cancer or not.



That are completely calcified (lots of calcium)

and that contain fat are not cancer.



That are cancer often have rough edges (called




That are cancer often grow faster and are larger

in size than nodules that are not cancer.

Many of the nodules found on screening are small,

about the size of a pea, and most of those nodules

are not cancer. Nodules are measured in mm

(millimeters). This letter “


” is about 1 mm long.

Doctors assess the density of a nodule. The density

of a nodule is a clue to whether the nodule is cancer

or not. Density is how solid versus hazy a nodule

looks on the LDCT pictures. Nodules are divided into

three groups based on density:



Solid nodules look about as solid as your

muscle does on an LDCT picture.



Non-solid nodules look like a fuzzy or hazy

cloud on an LDCT picture. These nodules

are also called a “ground-glass opacity” or a

“ground-glass nodule.”



Part-solid nodules have both solid and non-

solid areas in them. These nodules are also

called “semi-solid nodules” or “subsolid


Solid nodules are the most common kind of nodules.

Non-solid nodules are usually followed by more

LDCT tests. Even if the non-solid nodules are cancer,

these are considered the kind of cancer that will not

grow and spread. The part-solid nodules have the

greatest chance of being lung cancer.