Link Between COPD and Lung Cancer in Never Smokers

According to a study published last month in Thorax, individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) with no history of smoking have higher risk of developing lung cancer than smokers without COPD. This information comes from an observational cohort study evaluated data from 338,548 individuals aged 40 to 84 years from the National Health Insurance (NHS) Service National Sample Cohort between 2002 and 2013. The study followed patients for a median of 7 years to determine the link between COPD, smoking, and lung cancer.

During the course of the study, 1834 participants developed lung cancer. Never smokers who did not have COPD (control population) had a lung cancer incident rate of 0.5 per 1000 person years. Individuals with COPD without a history of smoking had more than double the risk of developing lung cancer, with an incident rate of 3.0 per 1000 person years (HR 2.67), while the incident rate was only 1.2 among smokers who did not have COPD (HR 1.97). As expected, the highest rates of lung cancer were seen in individuals with COPD and a history of smoking, with an incident rate of 9.5 per 1000 person years (HR 6.19).

The investigators concluded that all individuals with COPD, including those without a history of smoking, are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer, regardless of smoking history, and that never smokers with COPD should be considered for lung cancer screening in the future.

Read more about this article on Medscape Medical News.

Park HY, et al. Thorax. 2020;2:13-22.

COPD lung cancer

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