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CT Scans May Pick Up COPD Early in Smokers
Date:10/25/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Men with a history of heavy smoking who have a CT scan to look for lung cancer could benefit from a simultaneous check for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Dutch researchers suggest.

It's estimated that smoking will cause more than 8 million deaths a year around the world in the coming decades. In addition to cardiovascular disease and cancer, COPD is a major cause of death in heavy smokers. Yet, it is under-diagnosed, and deaths from it are increasing, the researchers noted.

CT-based lung cancer screening "may provide an opportunity to detect individuals with COPD at an early stage," said study author Dr. Pim A. de Jong, a radiologist at the University Medical Center Utrecht.

"Early cessation of smoking can prevent COPD progression, underscoring the importance of early detection," de Jong said. "This CT-based detection may provide a possibility to enhance the cost-effectiveness of lung cancer screening with CT."

The report was published in the Oct. 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For the study, de Jong's team looked for COPD in more than 1,000 men who took part in an ongoing lung cancer screening trial using CT scans that ran from July 2007 to September 2008. The men also underwent lung function tests that are standard screens for diagnosing COPD.

Based on lung function tests, the researchers found 38 percent of the men had COPD.

Using CT scans, de Jong's group looked for emphysema, a common form of COPD characterized by air trapped in the lungs. They also took into account the patient's weight and how many cigarettes each patient smoked a day and whether he had quit or still smoked.

Using this criteria, they identified about 275 men with COPD and 85 with false-positive results, meaning they did not actually have the condition. That means the CT test was able
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