Which physical findings are characteristic of secondary lung tumors?

Updated: Feb 16, 2021
  • Author: Daniel S Schwartz, MD, MBA, FACS; Chief Editor: John Geibel, MD, MSc, DSc, AGAF  more...
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Upon physical examination, signs of atelectasis, postobstructive pneumonitis, or postobstructive airtrapping can be evident. However, most patients are asymptomatic.

Solitary pulmonary nodules occupying the single site of distant metastatic spread is frequently the presenting finding in patients with secondary lung tumors, and patients with this type of spread are most commonly asymptomatic. This presentation is particularly common in renal cell cancer, Wilms tumor, testicular cancer, and sarcomas, but the finding of a solitary nodule is not specific and can be observed in any type of cancer.

Aside from secondary lung tumors, the differential diagnosis of discrete masslike lesions of the lung that appear in a patient with a known primary tumor includes unrelated primary malignancy (so-called synchronous second primary tumor) and benign neoplastic or nonneoplastic lesions.

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