COPD an independent risk factor for lung cancer


By Nicola Garrett

7 Apr 2020

People with COPD are at high risk of lung cancer, irrespective of their smoking status, new research suggests.

Researchers from Korea, who followed nearly 340,000 individuals without a history of lung cancer for seven years, found that never smokers with COPD had over 2.6 times the incidence of lung cancer compared with never smokers without COPD.

Furthermore, the risk of lung cancer in never smokers with COPD was similar compared with ever smokers without COPD.

“Given that poor lung function in COPD is often a barrier to optimal lung cancer treatment due to increased risk of treatment-related morbidities, our study suggests that early detection of lung cancer in COPD patients may reduce the risk of treatment complications,” the researchers wrote in their paper published in Thorax.

The risk of lung cancer among those with COPD and a history of smoking was six times as high.

While noting the limitations of the study, the authors recommended that future studies should evaluate whether COPD patients are candidates for lung cancer screening, irrespective of smoking status.

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