Setting: Elderly persons living in the community in Hong Kong.
Objective: To examine the association between tuberculosis (TB) and lung cancer.
Design: Elderly clients enrolled in a health programme from 2000 to 2003 were retrospectively cross-matched with the territory-wide TB notification registry for TB before enrolment. The cohort was followed up prospectively through linkage with the territory-wide death registry for cause of death until 31 December 2011. All subjects with suspected malignancy or recent weight loss (≥5%) at enrolment and deaths within the first 2 years of follow-up were excluded.
Results: Of the 61,239 subjects included, 516 had TB before enrolment. After 490,258 person-years of follow-up, respectively 1344, 910 and 2003 deaths were caused by lung cancer, other tobacco-related malignancies and non-tobacco-related malignancies. TB before enrolment was associated with death due to lung cancer (Mantel-Haenszel weighted relative risk 2.61, 95%CI 1.82-3.74, P < 0.001) but not other malignancies after stratification by sex. TB remained an independent predictor of lung cancer death (adjusted hazard ratio 2.01, 95%CI 1.40-2.90; P < 0.001), after adjustment for multiple potential confounders.
Conclusions: TB was independently associated with subsequent mortality due to lung cancer. This finding calls for intensification of tobacco control and better targeting of lung cancer screening in high TB burden areas.