There are many things this spot could be, other than cancer. It could be a tumor that is not cancer or a lesion that is caused by an infection or inflammation. Any of these could bleed, causing the traces of dark red blood in the phlegm that your dad is coughing up. A dense spot contains more calcium. The denser the lesion, the less likely it is to be cancer. It is unlikely to be related to his brief, distant smoking experience. It is much too soon to be concluding that this is lung cancer.
Your dad should go to the lung specialist. He will probably need a CT scan and/or bronchoscopy. During this procedure a bronchoscope is passed through the nose into the windpipe to look into the lungs. A bronchoscope is a flexible tube with a small camera at one end.
My husband had a lung cancer scare back in 1982. He was 32 years old at the time. He had smoked from age 20 until the scare happened, i.e. for 12 years, and then quit. The last five years or so he smoked a pack and a half a day. He did a lot of research into things at the time and the information he came up with then was that 50 pack years put you in the high risk category. That equates to a pack a day for 50 years, two packs a day for 25 years, etc.
His turned out to be a lung abscess. He had no symptoms, just a spot on an xray. Back then there were no CT or MRI scans available. They ended up doing a needle biopsy through his chest wall.
He recently had a scare where, after he had a pretty nasty cold, he was coughing up blood. Not a lot, just some bloody mucus when he really coughed hard. He and I were both worried, of course. He was sure the big C had him this time. I wasn't convinced. He has developed asthma over the years, but it is well controlled and he's on inhalers, etc.
To make a long story short, he had a CT scan of the lung that showed a few things that made the radiologist want him to get seen by a pulmonary doctor. They did a bronchoscopy and it turns out he has an extra bronchus. It is extremely narrow and catches mucus from colds, and infection seems to hang up there. They told him that if he gets a chest cold he should probably go on antibiotics if a cough goes into his chest to thwart off lung infections in the future.
All this being said, there are lots of things that can cause lung spots. Your dad's smoking history wasn't anywhere near 50 pack years, although you haven't mentioned any possible lung exposure from a work environment where the air isn't good. That also may be a factor in what's going on here.
I'm not a doctor - just a wife of someone who has been through this twice. I am also a lab technologist. Yes, it produces extreme anxiety, but I'm here to tell you that the big C isn't the only thing to cause chest problems. If your dad has this much anxiety, perhaps he should call the doctor that "told him to expect the worst" (what a horrible thing to say to him) and ask if he could have some Xanax or some anti-anxiety meds until he sees the pulmonary doctor. I think it is terrible that she said this to your dad. It surely doesn't show a lot of empathy, and if I were your dad, I would change doctors. I'm sure his weight is a problem with his diabetes, and he's scared about changing all his eating habits, possibly dealing with insulin injections, etc. and now THIS. Just take things one at a time. Hopefully you can get in to see the pulmonary doc soon.
My mother, age 57, has smoked since the age of 16. She recently had a chest X-Ray and CT Scan with these results:
X-Ray: A 5-mm nodule in the right mid lung field superimposed over a rib. The nodule is within the lung parenchyma & not part of the rib. Minimal atherosclerotic calcification of the aortic arch is seen. Pulmonary vasculature is unremarkable. No consolidation or pleural effusion is seen. Minimal left apical pleural thickening is noted.
CT Findings: The density in the right lung is a calcified granuloma which is thought to be fibrotic. There is minimal linear stranding or scar formation in the anterior portion of the right lung. No indication of an acute process or a mass. No effusion is seen. The mediastinum is unremarkable. The liver & abdomen are not remarkable. The spleen & pancreas likewise appear normal. No abnormality of the adrenal glands is seen.
What does all of this mean & are these findings good or bad?
PLEASE HELP ME UNDERSTAND THESE RESULTS: