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Lung Cancer

A shadow on a lung



My mom is a 66 year old woman who has never smoked. Recently she had what she thought was a cold and it turned out to be bronchitis. On the x-ray they did notice a shadow on her lung. Her doctor is now ordering a cat scan to see what it could be. I`m so worried that it might be cancer but what else could a shadow mean on a 66 year old non-smoker?


Most patients with lung cancer are smokers but we do see lung cancer in non-smokers.

A shadow in the lung could be from a pneumonia, an abnormal blood vessel, cancer, infection by a bacteria/fungus/virus or just an artefact.

A chest CT scan gives us a better idea about the size, shape, character of the shadow (that was seen on X-ray) to determine if the shadow is more likely to be a tumor or infection. A biopsy would yield a definitive diagnosis. Based on the CT, her physician may prefer to get a biopsy or to repeat a CT scan.

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Response by:

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