Experimental and therapeutic medicine

Asymptomatic pulmonary tuberculosis mimicking lung cancer on imaging: A retrospective study.

PMID 28962139


Asymptomatic pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) mimicking lung cancer is rare and has been documented in few studies. Accurately diagnosing this atypical disease remains an enormous challenge for clinicians. The aim of the present study was to characterize asymptomatic patients with PTB who were initially diagnosed with lung cancer according to their chest computer tomography (CT) or whole-body 18F-fludeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography-computer tomography (PET-CT) presentations. The clinical characteristics and radiographic features of patients with PTB were analyzed and compared to those of patients with lung cancer. In patients with PTB, all lesions exhibited suspected malignant signs on chest CT and the maximum standard uptake value (SUVmax) of PET-CT imaging was between 2.65 and 10.9. Compared with lung cancer, the factors associated with PTB included an age <60 years (82% vs. 46%, P=0.03), being male (77% vs. 51%, P=0.025), the presence of diabetes (55% vs. 16%, P<0.01), spiculated margins (82% vs. 44%, P=0.002) and a lower SUVmax (P=0.036). The optimal cut-off level was SUVmax 8.45 for discriminating between PTB and lung cancer. At this point, the sensitivity and specificity were 63.0 and 88.9%, respectively. The results of the current study revealed methods of distinguishing between the two similar diseases. Furthermore, the results of the current study may increase awareness that although imaging of lesions may resemble lung cancer, a diagnosis of PTB should be considered. Accurate diagnosis of PTB would mean that patients would be able to avoid undergoing unnecessary operations that induce a high financial burden.