The probability of malignancy in small pulmonary nodules coexisting with potentially operable lung cancer detected by CT


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Abstract

The aim of this study was to assess the probability of malignancy in one or two small nodules 1 cm or less coexisting with potentially operable lung cancer (coexisting small nodules). The preoperative helical CT scans of 223 patients with lung cancer were retrospectively reviewed. The probability of malignancy of coexisting small nodules was evaluated based on nodule size, location, and clinical stage of the primary lung cancers. Seventy-one coexisting small nodules were found on conventional CT in 58 (26%) of 223 patients, and 14 (6%) patients had malignant nodules. Eighteen (25%) of such nodules were malignant. The probability of malignancy was not significantly different between two groups of nodules larger and smaller than 0.5 cm (p=0.1). The probability of malignancy of such nodules within primary tumor lobe was significantly higher than that in the other lobes (p<0.01). Metastatic nodules were significantly fewer in clinical stage-IA patients than in the patients with the other stage (p<0.01); however, four (57%) of seven synchronous lung cancers were located in the non-primary tumor lobes in the clinical stage-I patients. Malignant coexisting small nodules are not infrequent, and such nodules in the non-primary tumor lobes should be carefully diagnosed.

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