Nodule on x-ray but not on CT scan?
I'm 32, white, male, about 70 pounds overweight and have been smoking approximately a pack a day since I was 13.
Until recently, I've never had health insurance. A couple weeks ago when my insurance kicked in, I went to the doctor for some allergy like symptoms in my throat and right ear that I've been having for over a year. While I was there, the doctor decided to do a chest x-ray since I've been a smoker for so long.
The x-ray showed what appeared to be a nodule about 3/4 of an inch in the lower right lung. The doctor (who I don't plan to see EVER again), was quite cold and said "that might be lung cancer", and scheduled a CT scan. I was in the room by myself with the x-ray for about 10 minutes before the doctor came in and didn't see anything that appeared abnormal, but of course I'm not a doctor. But after he pointed it out, the nodule did appear as a small round whiteish spot.
After coming home and researching pulmonary nodules I was completely devistated and worried. I became convinced I had lung cancer. I then remembered that last year I was in the ER for heart palpitations. I've had the palpitations for about 8 years, but last year I had a string of them that lasted several hours and went to the ER. While at the ER they did a chest x-ray which I went and got a copy of. To my dismay, there was no nodule on the ER x-ray from last year. In addition, the notes attached to it said everything was normal and that the x-ray was "unremarkable". This made me worry even more.
Well today I went in for my CT scan which if it matters, was without contrast. When I was done, the nurse/machine operator came out and said she could see nothing on the CT scan at all. Everything looked normal. I was REALLY relieved. She said just to be sure, she'd have the radiologist look at it as well before I left since she knew how concerned I was. The radiologist could find nothing at all either.
So what's the deal? The other day, after the doctor pointed it out, the area of the nodule clearly looked different than the rest of the lung. Plus, after coming home and searching for pictures of pulmonary nodules on the Internet, they appeared the same as the one on my x-ray. So why did the CT come back as normal and not show anything? Should I still be worried? Would the fact that they did the CT without contrast make it not show up?
I still haven't talked to the doctor that took the x-ray last week, but I'm assuming that like me, the radiology center will tell him that it was normal and that the didn't see anything.
FWIW, the x-ray machine the doctors office where they found the nodule was pretty old looking. The old x-ray that I retrieved from the ER from last year that came back normal was much clearer. I asked the nurse at the radiology center about this and her explanation was that in many cases, doctors simply aren't that great at reading x-rays and make the wrong diagnosis.
Any info on this is appreciated.
P.S. - As soon as I know I'm in the clear with all this I do plan on quitting smoking and losing weight. This has been a real eye opener for me.