Does a PET scan that shows lung nodules mean cancer?

A PET scan that shows lung nodules doesn’t necessarily mean cancer. A PET scan simply shows tissue that is actively burning more energy than other tissue around it. Other things that cause inflammation or infection can also be visualized on PET including pneumonia. Cancers burn energy and use glucose because typically they are growing quickly. But a slow growing cancer may not show up on a PET scan at all.

Dr. Brian D. Gelbman, MD
Pulmonary Disease Specialist

When a lung module is found, a PET scan is often used to indicate if the nodule is suspicious and needs further investigation; only a biopsy can prove cancer. Watch pulmonologist Brian Gelbman, MD, discuss how nodules are analyzed using a PET scan.

Continue Learning about Lung Cancer Diagnosis & Screening

Decoding the Stages of Lung Cancer
Decoding the Stages of Lung Cancer
When your healthcare provider diagnoses you with non-small cell lung cancer, he or she then needs to determine the stage of the cancer. For patients, ...
Read More
How important is screening for lung cancer?
Dr. Laki J. Rousou, MDDr. Laki J. Rousou, MD
Screening for lung cancer is important because it can help extend the lives of current and former sm...
More Answers
How can I better understand my lung cancer diagnosis?
The Society of Thoracic SurgeonsThe Society of Thoracic Surgeons
Lung tumors can be very confusing, not only because of the unfamiliar terminology, but also because ...
More Answers
Who Should Get a CT Scan to Screen for Lung Cancer?
Who Should Get a CT Scan to Screen for Lung Cancer?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.