What is a Lung Neoplasm?

Mary McMahon

A lung neoplasm is an abnormal growth in or on the lung. A number of different types of growth can develop in the lungs, and they are usually diagnosed with the use of medical imaging studies and biopsy samples to identify and learn more about the specifics of the growth. Being diagnosed with a neoplasm in the lungs is not necessarily a cause for concern. Additional follow-up is required to determine whether or not the growth is dangerous.

An abnormal growth in or on the lung is referred to as a lung neoplasm.
An abnormal growth in or on the lung is referred to as a lung neoplasm.

Lung neoplasms can be benign or cancerous. Benign growths are not necessarily harmless, even though this is implied by the name. Such growths are unlikely to spread, but they can become cancerous, and they can also impair lung function. People with growths in their lungs can experience symptoms like wheezing, coughing, feeling like they are not getting enough air, and difficulty inflating the lungs. A noncancerous growth can create complications for a patient and may require treatment.

Chest pains and unexplained headaches may be symptoms of lung cancer.
Chest pains and unexplained headaches may be symptoms of lung cancer.

Some examples of neoplasms found in the lungs include: carcinomas, lipomas, adenocarcinomas, fibromas, chondromas, and hemangiomas, among others. People can develop a lung neoplasm as a result of environmental exposure to substances like smoke, radon gas, and asbestos. Such growths can also develop with no apparent cause. Researchers believe there may be a genetic component involved in the development of some types of lung neoplasms. People with a family history of lung cancers may be encouraged to undergo additional screening to identify cancer early if it does develop.

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Lung neoplasms can be detected via chest X-ray.
Lung neoplasms can be detected via chest X-ray.

When a lung neoplasm is identified and testing is performed to learn more about the growth, the outcome of the testing will determine the appropriate response. Some growths are best left alone. They may grow so slowly that treatment would not be advised, or they may not be harmful. Patients with growths that are not immediately treated are usually advised to undergo periodic followups to monitor the size of the lung neoplasm. If there are any changes, they can be identified and managed early.

A human respiratory system.
A human respiratory system.

For other lung neoplasms, treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation may be recommended to address the growth. These treatments are overseen by an oncologist, a medical specialist who focuses on the treatment of growths in the body. The length of time required for treatment varies, depending on the nature of the lung neoplasm and the patient's general level of fitness. Once treated, the patient will be advised to develop a monitoring plan with a doctor to check for recurrences and complications.

Asbestos exposure increases the risk of a lung neoplasm.
Asbestos exposure increases the risk of a lung neoplasm.

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Discussion Comments


@lighth0se33 - I just want to thank you for sharing your story. I just found out last week that my husband has a lung neoplasm, and I have been praying for a sign that he will be all right. I feel like your comment is an answer to that prayer!

He has smoked ever since he was 16. He wanted to quit and even tried on several occasions, largely for me. I begged him. I told him I wanted him to outlive me, and he very well should, because I am seven years older than he is.

I wanted him to see firsthand the damage that smoke can cause to his lungs, so he went in for a checkup. The doctor did an X-ray of his lungs, and that's when he found the neoplasm.

I have been an emotional wreck since that moment. I've been living as though he were dying, but your post has given me hope. Thank you so much.


@Oceana and cloudel - I would just like to say that while I agree with you that any potentially cancerous growth should be removed, not all lung neoplasms develop into cancer.

My aunt developed a neoplasm, likely from being exposed to secondhand smoke for forty years. We all begged her to have it removed, but she insisted on letting it be, because her fear of going under the knife outweighed her fear of developing cancer.

She lived for thirty-five more years after being diagnosed, and the neoplasm did not kill her. I just wanted to shed a ray of hope on those who have loved ones with neoplasms by stating that it's not always the end of their world.


@Oceana - Yes, I agree with you. My grandmother had a lung neoplasm, and she, too, decided to live with it because she had no insurance coverage. It eventually became cancerous.

At first, all she had to contend with was occasional coughing. That evolved to basically drowning while breathing. She could not experience one single full breath unaccompanied by wheezing or hacking up mucus. The whole family lived with the constant reminder of her cancer at her every breath.

The problem with lung cancer is that in its early stages, it often has no symptoms. A patient may not develop any symptoms for a decade or longer, and when they do surface, it usually means that the cancer is advanced and less treatable than in its early stages.


My grandfather developed a lung neoplasm. He used to work in a shipyard for many years, and that shipyard was constructed using asbestos.

Since the neoplasm was benign, he decided not to have it removed. His insurance coverage wasn't all that great, and he had retired many years ago.

He left it alone, and sure enough, it developed into lung cancer. He started struggling for every breath. You could hear his chest wheezing in his sleep.

I would advise anyone with a neoplasm to have it removed regardless of the cost if at all possible. The risk involved with keeping it in your body is too great.

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