Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Your Good Health: Lesion on lung could be scar tissue, infection

A “lesion” is simply a term that means something doesn’t belong there.
Dr. Keith Roach

Dear Dr. Roach: My childhood friend just emailed me that she has a 1.1-cm lesion on her lung. It was found on a CT scan. She’s having another CT scan today. She is a former smoker and has COPD. Is the lesion something that’s part of COPD? What’s the difference between a lesion and something else?


A “lesion” is simply a term that means something doesn’t belong there, but in this case, the suspicion is that it means some kind of mass. The big concern in a current or former smoker is lung cancer. The appearance of the lesion in the CT scan can help tell what it represents.

There are calculators that can help give an idea of how likely a lung lesion (we often use the term “nodule” for a solid lesion) is to be cancer. Based only on the information you gave me, there’s about a 15%-20% chance of cancer, which is high enough that she would be recommended a biopsy. Depending on where it is in the lung, the biopsy can be done by bronchoscopy, ultrasound, or a CT-guided biopsy through the skin if the nodule isn’t close enough to a large airway.

If it (hopefully) isn’t cancer, it could be scar tissue, a current or past infection, a benign tumour, or many other possibilities, almost all of which are better than lung cancer.

Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to [email protected]