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What to know about Lung Nodules:

Lung nodules can be a source of anxiety for people who discover them; they're often found by accident on a chest X-ray or CT scan done for some other medical reason. Lung cancer is often the first concern if you just found out that you have a lung nodule, however, 95% of lung nodules are benign1, meaning they are not cancerous.

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So why do lung nodules matter?

If you have a lung nodule, it is important to see a specialist, like a pulmonologist, because if your nodule falls into the 5% that are cancer, early detection greatly improves your treatment outcomes.

If it's found early, outcomes are 10x better than if it's found late, so it is important to work with your doctor to rule out the possibility that your nodule is cancer.

What is a Lung Nodule?

A lung nodule or pulmonary nodule is an abnormal growth or mass that forms in the lungs.

  • There can be one or several nodules.
  • Nodules can develop on both lungs, in any location.
  • Lung nodules are common. Up to 1/3 of adults who get chest X-rays or CT scans have a nodule.
  • Small, solid nodules in the lower part of the lungs may have a higher chance of being benign (non-cancerous).
  • Other signs, like calcification or having a high number of lung nodules, are indications that the nodule is benign.

Other factors considered

There are a range of factors to consider to assess where your lung nodule came from. Your doctor may ask you questions about your personal or family health history to help. Other information comes from the image where your nodule was found.

  • The size of the nodule is often used as a starting point. Smaller nodules are more
    likely to be benign (non-cancerous) compared to larger nodules.
  • The shape of the nodule is another important aspect to look at. Spiculated
    nodules, have spikes or points around the edges rather than a smooth border and
    may indicate a higher risk of cancer.
  • The location of the nodule in your lungs can also be informative. Nodules in the
    lower parts of your lungs are more likely to be benign (non-cancerous) compared to
    those in the upper parts of your lungs

The structure of the nodule helps the doctor decide what to do next.

Lung nodules are small growths (less than 30mm) in the lungs

Your doctor may also look at the density of the nodule. Non-solid nodules have a halo around it or look more transparent on the image. The density of the nodule may help decide what the best next steps are for diagnosis.

lung nodule size comparison

What are noncancerous causes of lung nodules?
  • Inflammation from autoimmune diseases or lung disease, like sarcoidosis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Irritants and pollutants in the air
  • Infection in the lungs, like pneumonia and tuberculosis
  • Scar tissue from previous inflammation
  • Fungal infections, like histoplasmosis

Who is at risk for developing a lung nodule?

Any person can develop a lung nodule. You may be higher risk due to:

  • Smoking history
  • Increased age
  • History of prior cancer
  • Exposure to toxins or pollution

What are the next steps when a lung nodule is found?

Your lung nodule should be assessed by your doctor or a specialist. Certain characteristics of the lung nodule itself indicate the chances that it might be cancerous.

  • Multiple or single nodules
  • Structure of the nodule (solid or non-solid)
  • Nodule size
  • Nodule shape
  • Nodule location
  • Other health conditions
  • Patient preference
  • Patient’s immune status

Physicians use this information to help assess your risk, which helps to guide the next steps for managing your lung nodule.

Have a discussion with your doctor to understand your level of cancer risk or health conditions and what path forward is best for you.

Lung Nodule Risk Levels and Next Steps

Very Low Risk <5%

Follow up with chest CT to look for changes to the nodule over time.

Low to Moderate Risk 5-65%

More tests needed to gain further information.

You may be a candidate for Nodify Lung ® blood-based nodule risk assessment test. Through one simple blood draw, Nodify Lung testing can help your physician better understand your lung nodule’s risk of cancer

High Risk >65%

Biopsy or surgery to look at cells within the nodule more closely for cancer.

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Questions to ask your doctor:

  • What are the physical characteristics of my nodule and are they concerning?
  • What is the best plan of action for me?
  • Do I need a biopsy or a referral to a specialist like a pulmonologist?
  • If CT surveillance is suggested, what is the recommended timing?
  • Is my nodule appropriate to test using the Nodify Lung blood-based lung nodule risk assessment strategy? 
  • Are there any future signs of complications of which I should be aware?

Explore Nodify Lung Testing

Interested in a more informed approach to managing your lung nodule with your doctor?

Nodify Lung's blood-based test helps assess the risk of it being cancerous, providing valuable insights for both you and your healthcare provider to confidently decide on the next steps. 


  1. “Pulmonary Nodules;” Cleveland Clinic; May 2021.
  2. “Lung Cancer Fact Sheet;” American Lung Association; November 2022.
  3. “What is a Lung Nodule?"; American Thoracic Society; 2016.