Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease can Increase Lung Cancer Risk in Non-Smokers

People who don’t smoke but have a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer. Their risk is likened to that of smokers who have no chronic lung disease.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is known to increase the risk of lung cancer, with smoking being the major risk factor for both COPD and lung cancer. A new study has discovered that COPD patients, even if they are non-smokers, have a higher incidence of lung cancer compared to those with no history of smoking or COPD.

It is a known fact that exposure to particulates in cigarette smoke and toxic gases can cause both diseases.

COPD involves respiratory conditions that cause narrowing of airways such as emphysema and bronchitis. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and COPD.

In a new study, researchers analyzed data in patients without a history of lung cancer. They tracked their health for seven years and discovered that some developed lung cancer while others had COPD.

When they compared patient data, it was discovered that former and current smokers without COPD were twice likely to develop lung cancer while those with COPD have six times high risk. The data was compared with non-smokers, who didn’t have COPD.

In non-smokers, those with COPD had a higher risk (more than 2.5 times) of lung cancer than people without COPD.

However, the risk in non-smokers with COPD was the same as that of smokers without COPD.

Poor lung function in COPD always makes it difficult for the patient to receive optimal lung cancer treatment. This happens because of an increased risk of treatment-related morbidities. Only early detection of lung cancer in COPD will help patients to reduce the chances of complications from treatment.

The study findings suggest that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a strong independent risk factor for lung cancer.

Future studies are underway to help researchers evaluate whether COPD patients are eligible for lung cancer screening, whether they are smokers or not.

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