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Emphysema Frequently Found During Cancer Screening

PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay, https://pixabay.com/users/publicdomainpictures-14/Emphysema that’s detected using lung-density analysis software during low-dose CT lung cancer screening can be highly predictive of lung cancer risk, new research shows.

The prevalence is about 60%, but "we don't know the threshold at which we should act on the emphysema," researchers said.

https://pixabay.com/users/publicdomainpictures-14/" >Despite such high numbers, it’s not clear how physicians should proceed when it is detected. At this point, because the findings are freshly discovered, there are no current care protocols for how to proceed.  

However, that doesn’t mean that the discovery is not important. The screening results may indicate a higher risk for malignancy associated with a higher incidence of cancer. Of these, folks, more severe emphysema is detected in these patients.

The research, led by the Cleveland Clinic lung cancer screening program, uses automated lung density analysis software to detect emphysema. The findings were presented at the American Thoracic Society 2019 International Conference in Dallas.

Researchers said caregivers and the healthcare community must better understand which patients should see a pulmonologist and be treated based on such a test.

For specifics about the screening, emphysema was detected in 125 (39%) of the 321 individuals reviewed. In the study cohort, 101 (31%) participants had previously been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

During the 12-month follow-up, patients with emphysema detected made more pulmonary outpatient visits than patients without emphysema (43% vs. 27%), and were more frequently prescribed treatment for COPD (47% vs. 25%). The rate of visits to the emergency department was similar in the emphysema and no-emphysema groups (35% vs. 30%), as was the rate of hospitalization (7% vs. 12%).

"Patients with emphysema detected had more outpatient visits and more need for inhalers," Choi reported,” investigator Humberto Choi, MD. "We need to better understand which patients should see a pulmonologist and be treated.”

Emphysema was also associated with a higher incidence of lung nodules in a separate study presented by the same team. Their analysis of 314 patients from the same Cleveland Clinic cohort assessed Lung-RADS assessment categories. Five patients were diagnosed with lung cancer during the four-year follow-up period.

Click here to read the full article on Medscape.