Emphysema on Computed Tomography – Associated with Increased Risk of Lung Cancer

Lung | Lung CancerLung cancer is responsible for cancer-related deaths worldwide. Continuous research and studies are being carried out to reduce its risk. According to a new study published in Radiology, Computed Tomography detected emphysema is linked to a higher risk of lung cancer. Researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands have conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the association between emphysema and lung cancer using data from 21 studies involving more than 107,000 patients. They found a connection between visual and quantitative CT assessments of emphysema and lung cancer.

Emphysema causes damage to the alveoli, the tiny air sacs inside the lungs. Emphysema shares various common risk factors with lung cancer and cigarette smoking remains one of the important shared risk factors. Cigarette smoking is responsible for causing a number of medical issues like DNA damage, accelerated aging etc.

According to study co-author, Marleen Vonder, Ph.D., from the Department of Epidemiology at University Medical Center Groningen in Groningen, the Netherlands, “people with emphysema who’ve never smoked also have an increased risk of lung cancer.” The other underlying mechanisms such as genetic susceptibility, DNA damage, abnormal repair mechanisms or a combination thereof are proposed to link emphysema and lung cancer. In this research, they found that both visual and quantitative CT assessments of emphysema were associated with higher risk of lung cancer, which in turn also lead to increased emphysema severity.

The co-author of the study said in a statement, “It is too early to conclude whether the presence of CT-defined emphysema leads to incremental and independent prognostic value over that of already known shared risk factors of emphysema and lung cancer.”  With more research, it may be possible to detect emphysema on a baseline CT scan and then use these data to identify high-risk patients for more frequent lung cancer screening.

The information shared in this blog is for educational purposes only. You should always consult your healthcare professional for any medical issues.

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