Benign lung tumors are abnormal growth in lungs and air passages that are non cancerous. They do not spread or infiltrate in nearby tissue or to distant organ of the body. Benign lung tumors are not dangerous or life threatening. The tumor usually has slow growth and often after a period of time shrinks in size. But in some cases it may expand and grow in size.
Comparatively benign lung tumors are rare. Non cancerous tumors of lung are seen in about 1-2 per thousand chest radio-graphs. Many times they are only detected on routine chest X-ray in symptomatic individuals. Benign lung tumor does not require any active intervention, but they have to be carefully monitored for at least two years in order to rule out malignancy.
Types Of Benign Lung Tumors
There can be variety of benign lung tumors.Hamartoma are the most common form of them.
- Hamartomas usually develop in older age, between the ages of 50 to 70 years. At least 60 percent are found to be hamartomas. Most hamartomas are located in the outer side of lung but occasionally they are also present in air passage. If you detect popcorn shaped calcification on x-ray chest, it is suggestive of hamartoma. Sometimes it is coin shaped in appearance. Hamartoma is made up of the same tissue as that of lungs, but the growth has excess amount of that tissue. Hamartomas are usually between 1 to 3 centimeters in diameter. They do not infiltrate the adjacent tissue of the lung.
- Papilloma is another type of benign lung tumor. It can be squamous cell or glandular form of papilloma. It usually develops in the air passages called the bronchi. Papillomas are also rare benign tumors. This non cancerous growth in lungs can develop in children as well as adults. There can be multiple small papilloma or a single lesion.
- Fibromas are benign lung tumor made up of fibrous or connective tissue. They can also grow in other organs.
Causes Of Benign Lung Tumors
The exact cause of benign lung tumor is not understood. But it often occurs after certain problem in the lung. An overgrowth can occur as a result of inflammatory changes that occur due to infective pathology. For example it may develop as a result of fungus infection such as histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, or aspergillosis.
Infectious diseases such as lung tuberculosis and chronic lung abscess can also be triggering cause. It can be a precipitation of non infectious diseases such as sarcoidosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hydatid cyst or bronchogenic cyst. Smokers are at greater risk of suffering from these conditions.
Benign Lung Tumor Symptoms
Usually benign tumor of lungs does not present with any remarkable symptoms. They are often detected accidentally on X-ray chest done for some other lung condition. If at all the symptoms develop, they may be as;
- Breathlessness and breathing difficulty with slight exertion.
- Constant coughing.
- Blood in sputum.
- Peculiar sound in lung as if there is something that rattles while breathing.
- Collapse of lung tissue.
Treatment For Benign Lung Tumor
Almost all cases of benign lung tumor do not require any invasive treatment. However, it is important to rule out malignancy in first place. Therefore even if the nodule or a growth in the lung is found to be benign, it has to be monitored by the doctor from time to time.
Radio-graphs may be taken every 3 months in first year and every six months in second year. It is necessary to find if there are any changes in the structure that may indicate it to be malignant. In suspected cases, the doctor surgeon may prefer to do biopsy of the lesion.
It may be needed when the patient has previous pulmonary disease or he is over the age of 40 or he is a smoker. If the growth is obstructing or causing any breathing problems, it may be necessary to remove the tumor.