Scientific publications

Lung cancer screening in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Gonzalez J (1), Marín M (1), Sánchez-Salcedo P (1), Zulueta JJ (1).
(1) Respiratory Medicine Service, Clinica Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain ; (2) Respiratory Medicine Service, Complejo Hospitalario de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain. 

Magazine: Annals of Translational Medicine

Date: Apr 1, 2016



Lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are two intimately related diseases, with great impact on public health. Annual screening using low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) of the chest significantly reduces mortality due to lung cancer, and several scientific societies now recommend this technique.

COPD, defined by the presence of airflow obstruction [forced expiratory volume and forced vital capacity (FVC) ratio less than 0.70], and their clinical phenotypes, namely emphysema and chronic bronchitis, have been associated with increased lung cancer risk. Several epidemiological studies, including lung cancer screening trials, have found a 2- to 4-fold increase in lung cancer risk in patients with COPD when compared to individuals without airflow obstruction. Part of the risk attributed to airflow obstruction appears to be derived from the presence of radiographic emphysema.

The latter has proven to be an important lung cancer risk factor in smokers without airflow obstruction and even in never smokers. This evidence supports the idea of including patients with COPD and/or emphysema in lung cancer screening programs. There is evidence that lung cancer screening in this population is effective and can potentially reduce mortality.

Specific lung cancer risk scores have been developed for patients with COPD [COPD lung cancer screening score (LUCSS) and COPD-LUCSS-diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide (DLCO)] to identify those at high risk. A multidisciplinary approach for an adequate patient selection, especially of patients with severe disease, is key to maximize benefits and reduce harms from lung cancer screening in this population. Patients with COPD included in lung cancer screening programs could also benefit from other interventions, such as smoking cessation and adequate treatment.

CITATION  Ann Transl Med. 2016 Apr;4(8):160. doi: 10.21037/atm.2016.03.57

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