According to a recent study, the CT-detecected emphysema is linked to a higher risk of lung cancer, a risk that increases due to the severity of the disease.
Lung cancer is the primary cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, with more than 1 million deaths every year since 2000. However, lung cancer risk can be reduced by identifying treatable factors, such as chronic lung inflammation, as well as smoking, genetics, and diet.
Emphysema is a chronic respiratory ailment that damages the alveoli and the tiny air sacs inside the lungs. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing with mucus, wheezing, and chest tightness. There is no cure, but many treatments are available to help you manage the symptoms.
Emphysema has a number of common risk factors with lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide.
Cigarette smoking is one of the major shared risk factors of emphysema and lung cancer, as it increases inflammation, DNA damage, and increased aging. According to a researcher, people with emphysema who have never smoked also have an increased risk of lung cancer. According to Marleen Vonder, a researcher at the University Medical Center in Groningen, the Netherlands,
Other initial mechanisms, such as genetic susceptibility, chronic inflammation, and abnormal repair mechanisms, have been proposed to link emphysema and lung cancer.
Dr. Vonder and colleagues have identified work from three large databases on the association between emphysema and lung cancer. 21 studies involving more than 107,000 patients found a correlation between visual and quantitative, or measurable, CT analyses of emphysema and lung cancer.
According to Dr. Vonder, emphysema is not only visually assessed but also quantitatively assessed on CT and is linked to lung cancer, and this risk is greater for severe emphysema.
Despite the findings, research is required before any changes to clinical care are made.
According to the author, it is too early to determine whether the presence of CT-defined emphysema leads to incremental and independent prognostic value than the common risk factors of emphysema and lung cancer.
Despite this, Dr. Vonder said that quantitative assessment may ultimately gain ground in favor of visual assessment as it can be fully automated. She and her colleagues are considering this approach and validating its use in certain populations.
According to Dr. Vonder, emphysema detected on a baseline CT scan might be used to select high-risk individuals who would require more frequent follow-up lung cancer screening.