Significance of pulmonary nodules in patients with colorectal cancer

Fabiox Pomerri, Salvatore Pucciarelli, Isacco Maretto, Ernesta Perrone, Giovanna Pintacuda, Sara Lonardi, Donato Nitti, Pier Carlo Muzzio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives Radiographically small pulmonary nodules (PNs) in patients with colorectal cancer are troublesome because their discovery raises concern about metastases. This study sought to establish the appropriate timing of radiological follow-up for PNs detected at initial staging evaluation of colorectal carcinoma patients. Methods The medical records of 376 consecutive colorectal cancer patients who underwent curative surgery and had baseline and follow-up chest X-rays (CXR) and computed tomography (CT) were reviewed. Results The study included 92 patients who had all CXR and chest CTavailable for review, at least one PN found on baseline imaging, and no synchronous neoplasms. On baseline chest CT, these 92 patients had 170 PNs altogether and 77 (45.2 %) of them were greater than 5mmin size. Baseline CXR detected 13 PNs in 12 patients and all but 2 were larger than 5 mm. Nodule size greater than 5 mm and irregular margins were predictors of nodule growth. The mean doubling time of 24/ 170 (14.1 %) growing PNs was about 4 months. Conclusions Our findings suggest that baseline and followup CXR are pointless, and short-interval CT follow-up is warranted when PNs larger than 5 mm with irregular margins are detected on preoperative chest CT. Key Points ̇ Pulmonary nodules in colorectal cancer patients raise concern about metastasis. ̇ Baseline and follow-up chest X-ray in colorectal cancer can be abandoned. ̇ CT is the best technique for assessing PNs in colorectal cancer. ̇ Short-interval CT follow-up advisable for PNs larger than 5 mm with irregular margins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1680-1686
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Radiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • ChestX-ray
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Computed tomography
  • Metastasis
  • Pulmonarynodule

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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