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Women with Lung Cancer Less Likely to Have COPD

Using lung function alone to determine cancer risk is inadequate for women

FRIDAY, May 12 (HealthDay News) -- Women with newly diagnosed lung cancer are less likely to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than their male counterparts with lung cancer, according to a study published in the May issue of Chest. The findings suggest that screening for lung cancer in "high risk" patients, or those with COPD, may miss cases in women.

Raghu S. Loganathan, M.D., of Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in Pomona, N.Y., and colleagues analyzed data on 294 patients newly diagnosed with primary lung cancer, of whom 151 were men and 143 were women. Among the men, 72.8 percent had COPD at the time of diagnosis compared with 52.5 percent of women.

The prevalence of COPD was still lower among women than men even after adjusting for age and smoking status (odds ratio, 0.44). Among the 256 smokers in the sample, women were roughly half as likely as men to have COPD (OR, 0.45) at diagnosis.

The results have implications for the way women are screened for lung cancer, the authors write. "Gender-based differences on pulmonary function test results should be considered during the screening of lung cancer, because the stratification of high-risk patients based on the presence of COPD may miss a significant proportion of women with lung cancer," they conclude.

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