LUNG MASSES AND NODULES
The lungs are necessary for breathing, but lung masses and nodules can affect that. The lungs are susceptible to masses and tumors just like every other area of the body. Sometimes lung masses and nodules put you at risk for other problems. Lung masses are slightly different from lung nodules. Nodules are noncancerous growths. Masses can be either cancerous or noncancerous. It is important to know the symptoms of lung masses and nodules. Being aware of the signs will allow you to get treatment right away. Lung cancer is very serious and can spread quickly. Treatment is important and knowing your options can help you choose one that is best for you.
The lungs are two large air sacs that sit in the chest. Pulmonary arteries supply the lungs with blood. The blood receives oxygen and is then sent out to the rest of the body. The lungs contain bronchi. The bronchi branch out through the lungs and helps with oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange. When we breathe in, we breathe in oxygen, and the alveoli absorb that oxygen and transfer it to the blood. When we breathe out, the carbon dioxide is released from the blood and out of the body. The lungs are susceptible to all kinds of conditions like masses and nodules.
Causes of Masses and Nodules
There are several causes of nodules and masses in the lungs. Masses and nodules can be benign or cancerous. Certain things that put you at risk for cancerous masses in the lungs. These things include:
- Age- If you are older than 40
- Work environment
If you smoke or work in areas that are dangerous and expose you to certain substances, you are at risk for lung cancer.
One cause of masses and nodules is inflammation as a result of infection. Lung infections can be caused by fungus, bacteria, or viruses. The fungus is one of the main causes. Bacteria may lead to tuberculosis and pneumonia. When these problems occur, there will be swelling. Inflammation can also come from conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Some children are born with birth defects in the lungs that leave cysts and cause tumors. Bronchial adenomas are the most common lung tumor. The tumor comes from the mucous glands, but the good news is that it is benign. Sometimes you can get tumors from the connective and fatty tissue in the lungs.
There are several symptoms of benign lung nodules and tumors. You will first notice problems with breathing. Wheezing is a common issue. When you breathe in, you will hear that wheezing sound. Coughing is also common. You can try cough medicine, tea, and everything to get rid of a cough. If nothing works, you may have something inside the lung. If you notice blood when you cough, there is a problem for sure. Coughing up blood is not normal at all. Shortness of breath is another symptom. This problem may occur when you are trying to exercise or just do simple activities. If you feel like you cannot catch your breath, something may be cutting off oxygen. Fever is one of the last symptoms. Fever typically only occurs when there is an infection. The most common lung infection is pneumonia.
Diagnosis of Nodules and Tumors
To get a diagnosis, you first need a physical examination. The doctor will go over a few questions with you about your symptoms. They will also check your lungs and breathing. The next step is taking an X-ray. If the mass is small, they will keep an eye on the mass. They will do another X-ray over the next few months, and the growth of the mass will determine a lot. If the mass is growing quickly, it is more than likely cancerous. If it is barely growing, it is probably a benign tumor. The doctor may also do blood tests and other imaging tests like PET scans and MRI scans. If there is a fear of cancer, the doctor will take a biopsy of the tumor.
There ar several treatments for lung nodules and tumors. If the tumor is small and noncancerous, the doctor may not do any treatment. They may just monitor it and make sure it does not grow. Cancerous tumors may need to be treated with radiation and chemotherapy. Surgery is sometimes the best option. The surgery is minimally invasive, and recovery is short. For large tumors, open surgery is done. The procedure is risky, but it is necessary. Sometimes the surgeon will remove parts of the lung along with the mass.
Lung masses and nodules are not something anyone desires to have. No matter how large or small they are, they tend to cause problems in your breathing. If you notice symptoms, they should be treated right away. Do not ignore the signs and symptoms or things could get worse. Treatment can improve your prognosis.
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