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Our team of experts is passionate about finding lung cancer early, when it’s easiest to treat. That’s why we developed our lung nodule program and lung cancer screening program, which are the only ones of their kind in the Charlotte region.

We provide advanced, comprehensive care when a lung nodule is found incidentally (by accident) or through lung cancer screening. When lung nodules show up in imaging scans, they’re flagged and routed to our team for follow-up care.

We perform diagnostic tests to determine if a lung nodule is cancerous or noncancerous. If lung cancer is found, we’ll connect you to the highest-quality lung cancer treatment at Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute – the only cancer center in the region to be nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

Call to learn more about our lung nodule program.

What are lung nodules?

A lung nodule is a small, round abnormal growth of tissue that remains in the lung following an infection (like a scar that remains after a cut heals) or for some other reason.

An incidental lung nodule refers to a lung nodule that is found by accident or incidentally. For example, if you have a CT scan for a heart issue, the CT will take a picture of your chest cavity region, which includes the heart and the lungs. And sometimes a small dot (or lung nodule) can be seen in the lung tissue. Most lung nodules are noncancerous, but tests are needed to make sure.

Patient care – what to expect

We offer the latest approaches in diagnosing lung nodules and treating lung cancer. Here’s what you can expect from our team of specialists:

  • Your first appointment

    If a lung nodule is found, your provider will refer you to us for a pulmonology appointment. During your visit, we will:

    • Ask about your medical history, smoking history, and if you’re experiencing any respiratory symptoms, like shortness of breath
    • Do a brief physical exam, including listening to your lungs
    • Carefully review your CT scan with you and discuss next steps

  • Next steps if a lung nodule looks suspicious (or possibly cancerous)

    When we see a lung nodule or anything that looks abnormal on an imaging scan, we’ll investigate to determine next steps, which may include:

    • Monitoring with follow-up low-dose CT scans
    • Reviewing the lung nodule with our multidisciplinary team of experts to guide next steps
    • Determining if the nodule is cancerous using advanced diagnostic, minimally invasive techniques, including the Charlotte region’s only robot-assisted bronchoscopy tool

  • If lung cancer treatment is needed

    Whether caught in the early stages or late, we’ll connect you to the highest-quality lung cancer treatment at Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute. Depending on your specific case, you may undergo minimally invasive thoracic surgery to have a lung nodule removed, which is the most common treatment (and gold standard) for early-stage lung cancer. Or you may receive nonsurgical treatment, like targeted radiation therapy.

  • Personalized care

    To develop the very best care plan for you, we tap into the combined expertise of a range of specialists, which may include radiologists, pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, lung nodule navigators, oncologists and radiation oncologists. Working as one team, we come up with the most effective plan for your unique case. We also take the time to listen to your thoughts and concerns and make sure you’re involved in decisions about your care.

  • Leading diagnostic technology

    Our innovative robot-assisted bronchoscopy tool offers greater diagnostic accuracy than traditional methods as well as quicker recoveries with fewer complications. And it’s the only one in the Charlotte region. We use this tool to take a biopsy (a small sample of tissue used for diagnostic testing) of the lung nodule. The technology allows us to reach small, hard-to-reach lung nodules and even biopsy surrounding lymph nodes, which otherwise would require a second procedure.

  • Help to quit smoking

    If you’re still smoking and are ready to quit, our tobacco cessation program can help. We can prescribe medication to manage your urges, identify your smoking triggers and help you come up with a plan to quit. Learn more or call us at 844-375-9355.

Diagnostic tests and treatments

When a suspicious lung nodule is found, you can count on our team to determine if it’s cancerous and provide the most effective treatment options if needed. Our most common diagnostic tests and treatments include:

  • Low-dose CT scan: This quick diagnostic test takes a detailed 3D picture of your lungs, revealing lung nodules or abnormalities.
  • Biopsy via robot-assisted bronchoscopy tool: We use this tool to take a small tissue sample from a lung nodule, which is used for diagnostic testing.
  • Robotic-assisted thoracic surgery: Our skilled surgeons remove cancerous lung nodules with a robotic tool, offering a quicker recovery with fewer complications.
  • Medical lung cancer treatment options: We offer a range of nonsurgical treatment options, like radiation and chemotherapy.

Frequently asked questions

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, for men and women. The reason it’s so dangerous is that people with lung cancer often don’t develop signs or symptoms until the cancer is at an advanced stage, when it’s spread to other parts of the body. And once it spreads, it’s very difficult to cure.

Early detection is so important because if we catch lung cancer before symptoms develop, it’s easier to treat. That’s why we developed our lung nodule and lung cancer screening programs.

Yes, diagnostic tests are covered by most major insurance plans and Medicare. To learn more about coverage and cost, contact your insurance provider.

A lung nodule looks like a small dot on the CT scan that is usually surrounded by normal lung tissue.

A lung nodule is a small, round abnormal growth of tissue that remains in the lung following an infection, like pneumonia or bronchitis, or for some other reason.

Fortunately, most lung nodules – well over 90% – are noncancerous.

Lung cancers tend to grow slowly over time. Lung nodules that are larger when they are discovered are more likely to be cancerous than smaller ones. Cancerous nodules tend to have a rough edge (instead of a smooth edge) and be found in the upper lobes of the lung.

Lung nodules that are smaller than 8 millimeters are typically too small to biopsy. If we think a small nodule looks suspicious (possibly cancerous), we’ll keep an eye on it with follow-up CT scans. If a lung nodule has grown or looks suspicious and is 8 millimeters or greater, we’ll evaluate more closely with more advanced testing, like a PET scan or a biopsy.

For providers

Make a referral


If you’d like to refer your patient to our lung nodule program, call 704-468-5864 (LUNG) or send an email to LungNoduleReferral@AtriumHealth.org.

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