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Lung Cancer Screening Focuses on Part-Solid Nodules

Lung Cancer Screening Focuses on Part-Solid Nodules

NEW YORK—Lung cancer screening investigators are sharpening their
focus on the small, only partly solid nodules they observe on initial and
follow-up spiral CT. Recent data show that these nodules are more often
malignant than completely nonsolid or totally solid nodules, said Claudia I.
Henschke, MD, PhD, chief of the Division of Chest Imaging, Weill Medical
College of Cornell University.

"We want to identify which nodules have a high likelihood of
malignancy. We don’t need to talk about all nodules, but tease out one
subcategory, the part-solid, that needs a more aggressive workup," Dr.
Henschke said at the Fifth International Conference on Screening for Lung
Cancer.

Terminology in early lung cancer detection is evolving. A "nodule"
refers to any focal, nonlinear opacity, of which there are two types: solid and
focally translucent "subsolid" nodules (previously called
"ground glass opacities" because of their appearance on CT).

Subsolid nodules can be further subdivided into those that are completely
nonsolid and those that are "part-solid"—the ones that have been
shown to be more frequently malignant.

In a study submitted for publication, Dr. Henschke and her colleagues found
that nonsolid and solid nodules have a similar frequency of malignancy—about
18% for each. The part-solid nodules have a frequency of malignancy of
approximately 60%, or a 3.5-fold higher incidence. "It’s a big
difference," she said. "Therefore, the workup of those nodules in a
lung cancer screening program has to be different."

Workup Only the Beginning

Workup is only the beginning. Because these part-solid nodules are found
early and small, they may represent a very fertile field for chemoprevention,
chemotherapy, or surgery. Rather than targeting all nodules, she said, the
subsolid lesions could be singled out to more efficiently and quickly evaluate
response to specific chemopreventive interventions, or in evaluations of
limited resection vs lobectomy.

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