Do we really care about incidental lung nodules?—Review of atypical lung carcinoid and a proposal for systematic patient follow up
Atypical lung carcinoids are intermediate-grade neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) with malignant potential. They are often detected incidentally on imaging done for non-related causes, as the patients are frequently asymptomatic. Histopathology is required to confirm the diagnosis with immunohistochemistry (IHC). Due to their indolent nature, these are often diagnosed only in the advanced stages. Treatment options include chemoradiation for widespread disease versus surgery for local or minimally invasive disease. This article describes a nonsmoker female with enlarging solitary pulmonary nodule who was initially lost to follow up, subsequently operated and with final pathology revealing atypical lung carcinoid. This case stress on the schematic follow up of these incidentally detected pulmonary nodules. Inspired from the mandatory lay mammography report letters recommended by ACR, this article proposes sending lay letters to patients for pulmonary nodule follow up, directly from the Radiology Department to reinforce the importance of timely follow up, which will complement the information provided to the patient from their primary care physician or pulmonologist’s office.