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Chest and Lung Problems

A number of problems can affect the lungs and chest. These include masses, infections, and other diseases. Common types of chest and lung problems are listed below.

Outline of human chest showing trachea and lungs. A lung mass is in upper right lung.


Outline of human chest showing trachea and lungs. An infection is in lower right lung.


A mass is a lump of abnormal tissue. It can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). If a mass is found in the lung or chest, your healthcare provider will want to take a biopsy (tissue sample) of it. This tissue sample helps your healthcare provider determine if the mass is cancerous. Depending on the mass, it may need to be removed.


Infections are illnesses caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Examples of lung infections include tuberculosis and pneumonia. Lung infections can cause fluid to build up in the lungs or chest. Some lung infections are contagious. This means they can travel from an infected person through the air to infect another person. Most lung infections can be treated with antibiotics or other medications.


Smoking is often the cause of lung diseases. For example, smoking can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD refers to a group of diseases that destroy the lungs and make it hard to breathe. COPD can include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and chronic asthma. Certain non-smoke-related factors, such as exposure to asbestos, can also cause lung disease. Other conditions called interstitial lung diseases can lead to scarring of the lungs.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 5/15/2011
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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