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Lung Cancer

Calcified Lung Mass

01/13/2011

Question:

My daughter has a 9cm calcified lung mass. That first showed up 3 months ago when she was diagnosed with pneumonia. Follow CXR shows no change. They are now ordering a follow up CT.

The first thought of course is cancer, but what else could this be?

Answer:

Thank you for your question.

A calcified lung nodule in most cases is not malignant. It usually is an old infection or a benign lesion. However, depending on the pattern of calcification it can represent a malignant process as well in a small number of cases. You did not mention your daughter's age as it is a major factor in suggesting whether this is a malignant or benign process.

There is a long list of diagnoses associated with a calcified nodule. They are granuloma (benign process from old contained fungal infection or immunologic response); hamartoma (benign developmental growth); osteosarcoma (malignant tumor of bone spreading to lung); and cancer (either primarily from lung or from somewhere else in the body spreading to the lungs).

A Chest X-ray shows a lung nodule however, it is not as detailed as a CT scan to show the pattern of calcification as well as the size and shape of the nodule in all 3 dimensions. That is the reason your physician probably wanted to have a follow up CT scan.

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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