Long-term outcome and lung cancer incidence in patients with hemoptysis of unknown origin

Chest. 2001 Nov;120(5):1592-4. doi: 10.1378/chest.120.5.1592.


Study objective: To provide current data on the long-term outcome and incidence of lung cancer in a large cohort of patients with hemoptysis of unknown origin.

Design: A retrospective chart review followed by a telephone interview for follow-up.

Setting: A university-affiliated tertiary referral center for pulmonary diseases.

Patients: Seven hundred twenty-two patients who presented with hemoptysis from January 1990 to December 1993. One hundred thirty-five patients were identified as having hemoptysis of unknown origin.

Results: One hundred thirty-five patients (19%) had hemoptysis of unknown origin; follow-up data were obtained in 115 patients, of whom 100 were still alive. The mean time of observation was 6.6 years after initial presentation. Lung cancer developed in 7 of 115 patients (6%) and was unresectable once detected; all of these patients were smokers > 40 years old, and malignancy developed within 3 years after first presentation.

Conclusions: Hemoptysis of unknown origin is present in a minority of patients presenting with hemoptysis if evaluated at a referral center for pulmonary diseases. Lung cancer seems to be increasing in these patients compared to previous studies, and closer follow-up or additional testing may be indicated in the defined population at risk.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hemoptysis / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / complications*
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome