Mechanisms involved in lung cancer development in COPD

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2011 Jul;43(7):1030-44. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2010.08.022. Epub 2010 Oct 14.


Lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. They share a common environmental risk factor in cigarette smoke exposure and a genetic predisposition represented by the incidence of these diseases in only a fraction of smokers. COPD is also a major independent risk factor for lung carcinoma, among long-term smokers. Smokers with COPD also have a higher risk of developing a specific histological subtype of non-small cell lung cancer termed squamous cell carcinoma. For these reasons the focus of this review is on the potential pathogenic molecular links between tobacco smoking-related COPD and squamous cell carcinoma. We believe that we need to promote more studies on the molecular and cellular pathobiology of smokers with premalignant bronchial lesions of the squamous cell lung carcinoma compared with a control group of smokers with and without COPD to unravel the complex molecular interactions between COPD and early squamous cell lung carcinoma. These studies should also look at younger healthy smokers in combination with risk models of lung cancer and COPD. Overall these studies may allow the discovery of new molecular targets of the early carcinogenesis process that in the foreseeable future may render the early diagnosis and treatment, and may be even the prevention, of invasive squamous cell lung carcinoma a reality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / epidemiology
  • Adenocarcinoma / etiology*
  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics
  • Adenocarcinoma / physiopathology
  • Adenocarcinoma of Lung
  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / etiology*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / physiopathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / etiology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / genetics
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*