PURPOSE: To retrospectively identify features that allow prediction of the disappearance of solid, indeterminate, intraparenchymal nodules detected at baseline computed tomographic (CT) screening of individuals at high risk for lung cancer.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The study was institutional review board approved. Participants gave informed consent. Participants with at least one noncalcified, solid, indeterminate, intraparenchymal nodule (volume range, 50-500 mm(3)) at baseline were included (964 nodules in 750 participants). According to protocol, indeterminate nodules were re-examined at a 3-month follow-up CT examination. Repeat screening was performed at years 2 and 4. A nodule was defined as resolving if it did not appear at a subsequent CT examination. Nodule resolution was regarded as spontaneous, not the effect of treatment. CT features of resolving and nonresolving (stable and malignant) nodules were compared by means of generalized estimating equations analysis.
RESULTS: At subsequent screening, 10.1% (97 of 964) of the nodules had disappeared, 77.3% (n = 75) of these at the 3-month follow-up CT and 94.8% (n = 92) at the second round of screening. Nonperipheral nodules were more likely to resolve than were peripheral nodules (odds ratio: 3.16; 95% confidence interval: 1.76, 5.70). Compared with smooth nodules, nodules with spiculated margins showed the highest probability of disappearance (odds ratio: 4.36; 95% confidence interval: 2.24, 8.49).
CONCLUSION: Approximately 10% of solid, intermediate-sized, intraparenchymal pulmonary nodules found at baseline screening for lung cancer resolved during follow-up, three-quarters of which had disappeared at the 3-month follow-up CT examination. Resolving pulmonary nodules share CT features with malignant nodules.