Lung Node

"Many people think that quitting smoking completely eliminates the possibility of getting this cancer. However, the risk does not decrease until many years have passed, so it is necessary to follow up".


What is a pulmonary nodule?

A solitary pulmonary nodule is the accumulation of cells of a different origin than the normal cells of the lung. This nodule can be benign or malignant. malignant.

The lung node should be evaluated early.

Lung cancer is primarily caused by smoking; however, cases of lung cancer have also been found in non-smokers, but they are a small minority.

Not all smokers have the same risk, but at present can not know a priori which smokers are more at risk. There are respiratory diseases, such as COPD or emphysema, which do increase the risk considerably.

The prognosis of lung cancer when it is diagnosed in the early stages is very good, since resection surgery can cure the disease. 


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What are the symptoms of a lung nodule?

Lung nodules are usually asymptomatic.

Therefore, in patients with certain risk factors, it is advisable to perform periodic reviews are a specialist in Pneumology.

Early detection of a lung nodule increases the chances of early lung cancer treatment.

Risk factors:

  • Current or past smoking.
  • History of cancer.
  • Occupational risk factors for cancer (e.g., exposure to asbestos).

Do you have any of these risk factors?

You may have a lung nodule

How is a lung nodule diagnosed?

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Lung nodules are diagnosed thanks to early diagnosis programs.

The early detection program of the University of Navarra Clinic has been in operation for 15 years and has seen close to 4,000 patients.

In addition to a medical interview, the tests that are done in the program are:

  • Low-dose chest CT scan: The radiation dose is significantly lower than a normal CT scan and less than the amount of environmental radiation a person receives over the course of a year.
  • Respiratory function tests.
  • Depending on the results of the above tests, additional tests may be required.

A chest CT scan looks for lung nodules (small round formations).

Approximately 40% of smokers and ex-smokers who have a chest CT have benign lung nodules. Sometimes it will be necessary to repeat a CT scan in 3 or 6 months to study the evolution of these nodules.

How is the lung node treated?

Once the biopsy is obtained and the diagnosis of cancer is confirmed, the extent of the disease must be determined in order to decide on the appropriate treatment.

The extension study is not the same in all centers, it will depend on the technological techniques available.

In the Clínica Universidad de Navarra the PET scan is frequently performed. This technique consists of injecting the patient with radioactive glucose intravenously and seeing how it is captured.

The treatment plan will be established according to the risk of malignancy and the size of the nodule found.

  • If it is small in size (< 5 mm solid aspect or between 5-9 mm non-solid aspect) it will be enough to follow up by performing a CT with contrast each year.
  • If it is larger (> 10 mm) or grows rapidly, a biopsy will be performed and it will be surgically resected.

Since the year 2000, researchers from the Clinic, led by the Pneumology Service, have participated in an international multicenter study in which it has been possible to demonstrate that, by performing a low-dose annual radiation chest CT scan, the vast majority (85%) of lung cancers are diagnosed in Stage I, that is, the stage with the best prognosis.

And what is even more hopeful: approximately 90% of these cancers diagnosed in Stage I are cured.

These results have been obtained after studying more than 50,000 smokers and ex-smokers, and have been published in the most prestigious medical journal: the New England Journal of Medicine.

Where do we treat it?


The Department of Pneumology
of the Clínica Universidad de Navarra

Specializing in smoking and tobacco-related diseases, the Department has over 15 years of experience in smoking cessation and lung cancer early detection programs.

The department's specialists have received training at leading centers around the world, including centers in the United States, and have extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of all respiratory diseases, both common and rare.

Imagen de la fachada de consultas de la sede en Pamplona de la Clínica Universidad de Navarra

Why at the Clínica?

  • Leading clinical assistance with great work in research and teaching.
  • Specialized nursing team.
  • We work together with the Sleep Unit and the Lung Cancer Area.