COPD & Lung Cancer: Is There a Link?
Taking care of your health if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is important in not only managing existing symptoms, but in lowering your risk for serious complications.
For years, researchers have been analyzing the possible link between COPD to lung cancer. Since both conditions affect the lungs, it’s helpful to know the connection between COPD and lung cancer so you can gain insights on why they manifest, and how you can prevent them from affecting you.
What Does the Research Say?
According to a 2010 study published in the American Journal of Respiratory Care and Critical Medicine, people with COPD are two to five times more likely to be affected with lung cancer, compared to smokers who haven’t been previously diagnosed with COPD.
There are multiple factors why COPD may progress to lung cancer. These include:
- Smoking: Multiple studies have correlated frequent smoking to a COPD and/or lung cancer diagnosis. Frequent smoking triggers inflammation within the lungs. This said inflammation can eventually become chronic, cause lung cancer cells to develop, and negatively affect other organs of your body.
- Exposure to toxic substances: Findings published in the Journal of Thoracic Disease in 2019 highlighted that someone’s risk for COPD rises when they’re constantly exposed to dangerous industrial substances like metals, dusts, fumes, toxic particulate matter, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and heterocyclic aromatic compounds. Indoor air pollution was also revealed to play a major role in the onset of COPD and lung cancer in low-income countries.
- Genetics: Some studies have also touched on genetics’ role in increasing a person’s susceptibility to both COPD and lung cancer. Authors of a 2005 American Journal of Respiratory Care and Critical Medicine article noted that a region located on chromosome 6q23-25 can be linked to the development of COPD and lung cancer among families.
Can Lung Cancer Be Reversed?
Sadly, the outcome isn’t looking too positive for people diagnosed with COPD and lung cancer, as discovered in a study published in the European Respiratory Journal in 2012. This group of people may not be as fortunate due to insufficient information about potential COPD and lung cancer treatment, and because of impaired lung function and quality of life.
It was also revealed that a higher recurrence rate lowered the five-year survival rate of people with COPD, compared to people with normal lung function.
At the moment, experts have concluded that stopping smoking altogether can play a major role in lowering the risk of lung cancer of people with COPD. If possible, patients can consider screening for lung cancer as well to hopefully catch signs early on and address the condition.
It’s never too early to start protecting you and your family from the potentially devastating complications of both COPD and lung cancer. Apart from avoiding smoking and exposure to harmful substances, some ways you can reduce your risk involve necessary adjustments to your lifestyle: following a healthy diet, getting enough rest, and exercising.
Talking to a trusted doctor or specialist can be helpful too, since they can provide you with more knowledge about COPD and/or lung cancer, and discuss with you the best course of action moving forward.