[Mimics of lung cancer]

Radiologe. 2019 Jan;59(1):57-70. doi: 10.1007/s00117-018-0476-3.
[Article in German]


Lung cancer is a histologically, immunologically and therefore morphologically and functionally very heterogeneous group of neoplasms with the highest cancer mortality worldwide. Therefore, the range of diseases mimicking lung cancer is also very broad and includes congenital, infectious and inflammatory changes as well as other benign space-occupying lesions and other primary and secondary pulmonary neoplasms. The difficulty in radiology lies in the ability to diagnose lung cancer with a high degree of certainty. This must take the limits of the specific diagnosis, knowledge of the classical pitfalls and rare entities that can imitate lung cancer into consideration. Narrowing the differential diagnosis requires close interdisciplinary cooperation and consideration of the patient's clinical and medical history. An accurate analysis of the computed tomography (CT) pattern and distribution of the lesions as well as consideration of additional changes and involvement of other organ systems can be the key to the diagnosis. The use of fluorodeoxyglucose positron-emission tomography CT (FDG-PET-CT) is helpful only in a few mimics of lung cancer. The article describes clinical and radiological findings of mimics of lung cancer also pointing out the limitations of CT and PET-CT for the diagnosis.

Keywords: Computed tomography; Lung neoplasms; Multiple pulmonary nodule; Positron-emission tomography; Solitary pulmonary nodule.

MeSH terms

  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lung Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule* / diagnostic imaging


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18