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Korean J Radiol. 2001 Jul-Sep;2(3):138-44.

Coexisting bronchogenic carcinoma and pulmonary tuberculosis in the same lobe: radiologic findings and clinical significance.

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Department of Radiology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.



Bronchogenic carcinoma can mimic or be masked by pulmonary tuberculosis (TB), and the aim of this study was to describe the radiologic findings and clinical significance of bronchogenic carcinoma and pulmonary TB which coexist in the same lobe.


The findings of 51 patients (48 males and three females, aged 48-79 years) in whom pulmonary TB and bronchogenic carcinoma coexisted in the same lobe were analyzed. The morphologic characteristics of a tumor, such as its diameter and margin, the presence of calcification or cavitation, and mediastinal lymphadenopathy, as seen at CT, were retrospectively assessed, and the clinical stage of the lung cancer was also determined. Using the serial chest radiographs available for 21 patients, the possible causes of delay in the diagnosis of lung cancer were analyzed.


Lung cancers with coexisting pulmonary TB were located predominantly in the upper lobes (82.4%). The mean diameter of the mass was 5.3 cm, and most tumors (n=42, 82.4%) had a lobulated border. Calcification within the tumor was seen in 20 patients (39.2%), and cavitation in five (9.8%). Forty-two (82.4%) had mediastinal lymphadenopathy, and more than half the tumors (60.8%) were at an advanced stage [IIIB (n=11) or IV (n=20)]. The average delay in diagnosing lung cancer was 11.7 (range, 1-24) months, and the causes of this were failure to observe new nodules masked by coexisting stable TB lesions (n=8), misinterpretation of new lesions as aggravation of TB (n=5), misinterpretation of lung cancer as tuberculoma at initial radiography (n=4), masking of the nodule by an active TB lesion (n=3), and subtleness of the lesion (n=1).


Most cancers concurrent with TB are large, lobulated masses with mediastinal lymphadenopathy, indicating that the morphologic characteristics of lung cancer with coexisting pulmonary TB are similar to those of lung cancer without TB. The diagnosis of lung cancer is delayed mainly because of masking by a tuberculous lesion, and this suggests that in patients in whom a predominant or growing nodule is present and who show little improvement of symptoms despite antituberculous or other medical therapy, coexisting cancer should be suspected.

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