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How does your doctor know whether or not a lung nodule is benign?

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In addition to taking a history and doing a physical exam, your doctor may simply "watch" a nodule, taking repeated X-rays, over a period of two years. The period for watching may be longer if the nodule is smaller than 6 millimeters and your risk is low. If the nodule remains the same size for at least two years, it is considered benign. That's because benign lung nodules grow slowly, if at all. On the other hand, cancerous nodules, on average, double in size every four months. Your doctor may continue to a check your lung nodule each year for up to five years to ensure that it is benign.

Benign nodules also tend to have smoother edges and have a more even color throughout as well as a more regular shape than cancerous nodules. In most cases, your doctor can check speed of growth, shape, and other characteristics such as calcification on a chest X-ray, CT or PET scan.

From: Benign Lung Tumors and Nodules WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES: University of Rochester Medical Center: "Pulmonary Nodules." Medscape: "Can Malignant and Benign Pulmonary Nodules Be Differentiated With Diffusion-Weighted MRI?" MedlinePlus: "Solitary Pulmonary Nodule." EMedicine from WebMD: "Benign Lung Tumors," "Hamartoma, Lung," and "Solitary Pulmonary Nodule." MacMahon, H et al. "Guidelines for Management of Small Pulmonary Nodules Detected on CT Scans: A Statement from the Fleischner Society," 2005; vol 237:pp 395–400. Radiology

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin on January 15, 2017

SOURCES: University of Rochester Medical Center: "Pulmonary Nodules." Medscape: "Can Malignant and Benign Pulmonary Nodules Be Differentiated With Diffusion-Weighted MRI?" MedlinePlus: "Solitary Pulmonary Nodule." EMedicine from WebMD: "Benign Lung Tumors," "Hamartoma, Lung," and "Solitary Pulmonary Nodule." MacMahon, H et al. "Guidelines for Management of Small Pulmonary Nodules Detected on CT Scans: A Statement from the Fleischner Society," 2005; vol 237:pp 395–400. Radiology

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin on January 15, 2017

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What tests are used to diagnose benign lung tumors and nodules?

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