A new study finds that early screening of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may help to detect lung cancer at an earlier stage. The findings appear in the European Respiratory Journal.
Although scientists have known that these two disease are linked, it has only been in the last decade that they have begun to understand the genetic interactions that connect the two diseases.
In this study, the researchers reviewed a number of studies from the last 20 years that looked at how lung cancer was associated with COPD and how important early detection of COPD was for lung cancer surveillance. Their analysis revealed that COPD patients are more likely to develop lung cancer compared to current or former smokers with normal lung function. Approximately 1% of patients with COPD develop lung cancer each year, while only 0.2% of patients with normal lung function develop the disease. This represents a 5-fold increased risk of lung cancer amongst COPD patients.
The results further suggest that testing the lung function of former and active smokers could help identify COPD at an early stage. If COPD is identified, these patients should then be monitored by CT scan to help with the early detection of lung cancer.
The researchers add that additional research is needed to determine the selection criteria for COPD and lung cancer screening.
Source: European Lung Foundation