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Nodule or Tumor????

idlehunters's picture
Posts: 1792
Joined: Apr 2009

What is the difference between a nodule and a tumor????


Posts: 872
Joined: Feb 2007

Excellent question, Jennie. I have no idea.... Someone should enlighten us!


PamPam2's picture
Posts: 376
Joined: Jan 2009

Yeah My charts called my first tumor a neoplasm, my surgeon never would say the word cancer. Now , whatever is showing on my liver, so far I have heard it called a spot, a cluster, and a lesion. I don't know if they are using words that they think won't scare the patient as much, or it's because of their own comfort level with the words they use, or if there is some small medical distinction between the words (probably). Whatever they call it, what I like to hear is benign, and not malignant!
Best Wishes

lisa42's picture
Posts: 3661
Joined: Jul 2008

I don't actually know the technical difference between a nodule and a tumor. I was told I had numerous "nodules" in my lungs. They've never been biopsied, but they were lit up on the PET at one time, so I know they were/are cancerous. Yet, they're still referred to as nodules. They're all a cm. or smaller. I wonder if it is just semantics, but perhaps related to size. When I had "things" in my liver, they were referred to as tumors, not nodules. They've never called what's in my lungs tumors, just nodules. I really don't know why & I've always wondered that too. My thoughts are that it might relate to size (nodules being smaller?) and sometimes maybe even the term nodules is used if they're not positive if it's cancerous or not. Don't know for sure, but those are my ideas.

VickiCO's picture
Posts: 934
Joined: Oct 2008

I don't know if this helps or confuses you! But here are the medical definitions:

Nodule: A small node; in skin, a node up to 1.0 cm in diameter, solid, with palpable depth; a pulmonary or pleural lesion seen on a radiographic image as a well-defined, discrete, roughly circular opacity 2–30 mm in diameter.

Tumor: An abnormal mass of tissue. Tumors are a classic sign of inflammation, and can be benign or malignant (cancerous). There are dozens of different types of tumors. Their names usually reflect the kind of tissue they arise in, and may also tell you something about their shape or how they grow. For example, a medulloblastoma is a tumor that arises from embryonic cells (a blastoma) in the inner part of the brain (the medulla). Diagnosis depends on the type and location of the tumor. Tumor marker tests and imaging may be used; some tumors can be seen (for example, tumors on the exterior of the skin) or felt (palpated with the hands).


PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4839
Joined: May 2005

Nodes are smaller I believe.

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