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Deborah Leader, RN

COPD Not an Independent Risk Factor for Lung Cancer

By December 29, 2012

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Until recently, medical experts believed that COPD was an independent risk factor for lung cancer. A study published in the January, 2013 issue of the Journal of Thoracic Oncology suggests otherwise.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom reviewed data collected from lung cancer patients between 2000 and 2009. Although they found a significant link between COPD and lung cancer, they attributed this association to smoking, a shared risk factor for both diseases. The link between lung cancer and COPD  was also found to be most apparent in recently diagnosed cases of COPD.

Results of the study concluded that there is "an extremely strong unadjusted relationship between both COPD and pneumonia and lung cancer in the 6 months immediately before lung cancer diagnosis."  In light of these findings, health care practitioners are encouraged to consider a diagnosis of lung cancer when making new diagnoses of COPD or pneumonia. Additionally, a chest x-ray looking for evidence of lung cancer is recommended for all patients at the time of their initial COPD diagnosis.

To learn more about lung cancer, visit About.com's Lung Cancer Guide Site.



January 3, 2013 at 4:02 pm
(1) helen says:

Does this mean if u r diagnosed with copd there is a strong chance u have lung cancer.

January 3, 2013 at 8:20 pm
(2) Kat says:

The article needs to be explained more clearly or there will be many people scared out of their minds!

January 4, 2013 at 9:22 am
(3) Bill says:

Holy Horsefeathers! The day started good until I read this. I am just over the chemo/radiation routine for another cancer, and now this. Nuts.

January 8, 2013 at 6:07 pm
(4) copd says:

The bottom line of this study is that COPD is not a risk factor, in and of itself, for lung cancer. The link between the two is primarily due to smoking, a shared risk factor for both diseases. Smoking is a risk factor for many diseases, especially lung disease. I know it is a little confusing, but just remember the bottom line. The study contained a bias, which affected study results.

January 9, 2013 at 6:34 pm
(5) Linda says:

Thanks for this interesting and important information.

Are there any data on the length of time from cessation of smoking to the risks for cancer once the COPD has been diagnosed?

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