Role of emphysema and airway obstruction in prognosis of lung cancer

Lung Cancer. 2011 Feb;71(2):182-5. doi: 10.1016/j.lungcan.2010.05.018. Epub 2010 Jun 15.


Background and objective: It has been reported that the presence of COPD and emphysema is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer, but the prognosis significance of these two conditions is not well known. The aim of our study was to analyze the influence of COPD and emphysema in the prognosis of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Methods: Three hundred and fifty-three patients with cytohistologic diagnosis of NSCLC were prospectively collected. The relationship between survival at two years and the following variables: age, sex, smoking habit, comorbid diseases (cardiovascular diseases, previous tumour and COPD), weight loss, presence of emphysema on CT scan, performance status (PS) and treatment, was analyzed. The Kaplan-Meier method and log-rank test were used for survival analysis. A multivariate Cox proportional hazard model, stratified by TNM stage, was used to evaluate prognostic factors.

Results: Emphysema was present in 110 patients, associated with COPD in 78 (70.9%). In univariate analysis, survival decreased with age>70 years (p=0.01), presence of emphysema (p=0.02), weight loss (p=0.00001), PS≥2 (p=0.00001) and symptomatic treatment (p=0.0001). Multivariate analyses identified emphysema (HR=1.49 (95% CI 1.11-2.01)), PS≥2 (HR=2.12 (95% CI 1.31-3.38)) and treatment: surgery (HR=0.3 (95% CI 0.15-0.56)) and chemotherapy (HR=0.34 (95% CI 0.31-0.57)) as independent prognostic factors.

Conclusion: The presence of emphysema affects the prognostic outcome of patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Emphysema should therefore be considered for prognostic studies on comorbidity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Airway Obstruction / complications*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / complications*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / complications*
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / complications*
  • Survival Analysis