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"What is a lung lesion?"


I have just had a chest x-ray showing that I have a lesion in my left lung. What are the chances that this is cancer? I am a male, smoker of 12 years.


This is a good example of how medical terminology is not always explained adequately to patients. Lesions on the lung is a generic term used to describe a finding on a test (in this case your chest x-ray) which is abnormal. There is no way to tell if a chest x-ray abnormality is cancer, and infection, old scar tissue, or nothing at all without doing additional testing.

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With a few exceptions, the next best test for you to get is a chest CT scan. This is similar to a more detailed x-ray which can show the lesion's characteristics and gauge its likelihood of being something more worrisome like cancer. Since you are a smoker, the chances that any lesion in the lung being cancer are higher, but there is no way to give you a probability. The usual protocol is to follow the lesion with CT scans spaced over several months to see if it grows. If the lesion does grow, it will need to be biopsied. The best physician for you to follow up with about this is your primary care physician. He or she can order the CT test if it is appropriate in your case. In addition, you can receive information on how to quite smoking, if you are ready.

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