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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.

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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.