According to the journal Lung Cancer, individuals with a history of emphysema and pneumonia have an increased risk of developing lung cancer. However, further study is needed to confirm these findings.

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the world. Lung cancer claims the lives of more people annually in the United States than colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer combined. Given the prevalence of lung cancer, researchers continue to evaluate factors other than smoking and family history that may increase the risk of developing the disease. Patients with such risk factors may be more closely monitored for lung cancer.

Researchers from Quebec, Canada, recently evaluated data from two clinical studies to look for an association between non-cancerous medical conditions affecting the lung and a subsequent risk of developing lung cancer. The lung conditions evaluated for their relation to lung cancer risk included asthma, tuberculosis, emphysema, and pneumonia.

Study I was conducted between 1979 and1989 and included 755 patients who had been diagnosed with lung cancer and 512 patients who had not been diagnosed with the disease.

Study II was conducted between 1996 and 2001 and included 1,205 patients who had been diagnosed with lung cancer and 1,541 individuals who had not been diagnosed with the disease.

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  • In both studies, patients who had been diagnosed with emphysema or pneumonia had a significantly increased risk of developing lung cancer.
  • The association between tuberculosis and lung cancer was inconsistent between study I and study II.

The researchers concluded that a diagnosis of emphysema and/or pneumonia can significantly increase a patient’s chance of developing subsequent lung cancer. Patients with either of these diagnoses may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of screening for lung cancer or the participation in a clinical trial further evaluating new screening methods for lung cancer. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov) and www.cancerconsultants.com.

Reference: Ramanakumar A, Parent M-E, Menzies D, Siemiatycki J. Risk of Lung Cancer Following Nonmalignant Respiratory Conditions: Evidence from Two Case-Control Studies in Montreal, Canada. Lung Cancer. 2006; 53: 5-12.

Related News:Lung Cancer Screening May Detect Cancer at an Earlier Stage (12/22/2005)

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