Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 90–93 | Cite as

Pulmonary infections mimicking cancer: A retrospective, three-year review

  • Kenneth V. I. Rolston
  • Saul Rodriguez
  • Nizar Dholakia
  • Estella Whimbey
  • Issam Raad
Review Article


Pulmonary infections can mimic or occasionally co-exist with pulmonary neoplasms. In order to determine the frequency and nature of these infections, we conducted a retrospective analysis, covering a 3-year period, of patients who were referred to our center with presumed lung cancer but turned out to have pulmonary infection instead. The overwhelming majority of patients (93.3%) referred to “rule out” lung cancer were documented as having a neoplastic process, and only 1.3% had an infection. Fungal infections (histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, coccidiomycosis) accounted for 46%, mycobacteria for 27%, bacteria for 22%, and parasitic lesions (dirofilariasis) for 5% of these infections. The most common clinical manifestations were cough and chest pain, and the most common radiographic finding was a solitary pulmonary nodule. There were no specific clinical or radiographic features predictive of either infection or neoplastic disease. All patients responded to specific anti-infectioe therapy with or without surgical excision. Our data indicate that pulmonary infections mimic neoplasms very infrequently. However, establishing a specific diagnosis is critical, since the management and outcome of these two processes are entirely different.

Key words

Infections Cancer Fungi Mycobacteria 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth V. I. Rolston
    • 1
  • Saul Rodriguez
    • 1
  • Nizar Dholakia
    • 1
  • Estella Whimbey
    • 1
  • Issam Raad
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medical Specialties, Section of Infectious DiseasesThe University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA

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