Review Articles

Management of ground-glass opacities: should all pulmonary lesions with ground-glass opacity be surgically resected?

Yoshihisa Kobayashi, Tetsuya Mitsudomi


Pulmonary nodules with ground-glass opacity (GGO) are frequently observed and will be increasingly detected. GGO can be observed in both benign and malignant conditions, including lung cancer and its preinvasive lesions. Atypical adenomatous hyperplasia and adenocarcinoma in situ are typically manifested as pure GGOs, whereas more advanced adenocarcinomas may include a larger solid component within the GGO region. The natural history of GGOs has been gradually clarified. Approximately 20% of pure GGOs and 40% of part-solid GGOs gradually grow or increase their solid component, whereas others remain unchanged for years. Therefore, it remains unclear whether all pulmonary lesions with GGO should be surgically resected or whether lesions without changes may not require resection. To distinguish GGOs with growth from those without growth, a 3-year follow-up observation period is a reasonable benchmark based on the data that the volume-doubling time (VDT) of pure GGOs ranges from approximately 600 to 900 days and that of part-solid GGOs ranges from 300 to 450 days. Future studies on the genetic differences between GGOs with growth and those without growth will help establish an appropriate management algorithm.

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