Diagnosis of a Spot on the Lung

There are many stories of people who find out they have a spot on their lung by accident. Many times spots are found on an x-ray or CT scan when tests are done for some upcoming medical procedure. People have described this experience as shocking, very scary and unsettling.

When this happens what people quickly want to know is: what exactly is that “lung nodule” or “spot on my lung”? The best way to really know is to get a tissue sample or biopsy in order to make a positive diagnosis.

Physicians will take into consideration many things when determining how to obtain a diagnosis. One thing is your risk factors. Of course smoking is a major risk factor when looking at lung disease.

Smoking Status
Percentage of
all Lung Cancers
Current Smokers 35% to 40%
Former Smokers 50%
Never Smoked 10% to 15%
(Source – yourlunghealth.org)

Other risk factors include but are not limited to exposure to secondhand smoke, exposure to asbestos, radon and other harmful chemicals, and your personal and family history of lung disease or cancer.

Finding lung nodules when they are small may have advantages. There is research that shows most small lung spots turn out not to be cancer and could be an infection or scar tissue from a previous infection.4 Data shows lung nodules measuring less than 5mm in diameter have a low likelihood of being malignant (<1).5