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Lung Cancer

Non-calcified opacities

08/24/2007

Question:

My mother who is 69 had open heart surgery one year ago, one month ago she developed phenomena, for the third time, when she had her chest x-ray to detect the phenomena they saw something else, so she had a ct scan, her test came back showing two non-calcified opacities and wanted to do a follow up in two months, this information was sent to her in a note from the Dr. it sounds alarming but what does non-calcified mean?

Thank you

Answer:

Thank you for your question. You did not mention the size of the non-calcified opacities.

There are various shadows or opacities seen on chest X-ray or CT scan. We call these nodules. These can be calcified or non-calcified. Calcified means that there is calcium deposited in these areas and most of the time these from infection, specially fungal infection is very common in the state of Ohio. Usually they have been present for along time.

An opacity in the lung that is non-calcified could be an infection or a scar. However, some of them can be an early cancer as well, specially if someone is a smoker.

If they are of reasonable size (more than 1cm) we can biopsy them to determine what they are. However, if the are small, it is very difficult to biopsy them. In these cases we decide to repeat another CT scan is 2-3 months to see if they have become bigger or changed shape or character. If they become bigger then at that point we can biopsy them. If they were from infection they may just disappear.

I assume the opacities you mentioned are smaller and so your physician decided to repeat another scan.

Thanks and I hope this answers your question.

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Response by:

Shaheen  Islam, MD, MPH Shaheen Islam, MD, MPH
Clinical Associate Professor
Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
Hematology
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University