It is possible to live with pulmonary nodules if they are benign, according to Cleveland Clinic. A pulmonary nodule is a round or oval growth in the lung. The tissue typically has a diameter of less than 3 inches; larger growths are pulmonary masses. If the thickening is not cancerous, a physician usually does not provide treatment.
A nodule is often first noted when patients have chest X-rays or CT scans because of respiratory illnesses, explains Cleveland Clinic. The size, shape, location and general appearance of nodules provide information to help physicians decide if immediate additional testing is required or if the nodules should be monitored for changes over time. Doctors generally use CT scans to regularly check pulmonary nodules for tissue growth. These tests show great detail and pick up nodules as small as 1 millimeter in diameter. If no changes occur, doctors usually leave the nodules alone.
Nodules that are large, irregularly shaped or in the upper sections of the lungs are more likely to be malignant, Cleveland Clinic notes. If the appearance of nodules warrants immediate investigation, physicians typically investigate with CT scans, PET scans or biopsies.
A PET scan measures how much of a radiolabeled substance a nodule absorbs, Cleveland Clinic reports. Malignant cells absorb more of this substance. A biopsy, or tissue removal, allows the doctor to observe a sample of the nodule under a microscope. In general, cancerous nodules are surgically removed.