Pneumoconioses and tumors that lead to nodular interstitial lung disease
Pneumoconioses that may produce a micronodular interstitial pattern are silicosis, coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, talcosis, and berylliosis. Pneumoconioses are diffuse interstitial lung diseases caused by inorganic dusts, most often related to occupational exposures. Mining, sandblasting, gravestone engraving, and pottery are some occupations in which workers may be exposed to silica dust with resultant silicosis; as identified in the name, coal workers’ pneumoconiosis is seen in coal miners. Berylliosis is an uncommon chronic pneumoconiosis that may be encountered in individuals who mine beryllium, who manufacture beryllium ceramics, or who previously manufactured beryllium lighting (these types of lights are no longer manufactured because of the high risk of acute and chronic berylliosis). Talcosis may occur as a result of the mining of talc or excessive inhalation of talcum powder and in intravenous drug abusers. Thyroid carcinoma is the prototypic tumor that produces thousands of tiny micronodular metastases and may appear as a nodular interstitial lung disease. Breast cancer may also produce this pattern of metastasis; other primary tumors rarely produce a micronodular pattern of lung metastasis.