COPD May Not Affect Survival in Patients With Small Cell Lung Cancer

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There is a lack of data assessing the impact of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder on mortality in small cell lung cancer.
There is a lack of data assessing the impact of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder on mortality in small cell lung cancer.

Comorbid chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) may not affect survival outcomes among patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) undergoing chemotherapy, according to a study published in Thoracic Cancer.1

Lung cancer and COPD have similar causes, and COPD is a significant risk factor for lung cancer. While previous studies have evaluated the association between COPD and non-small cell lung cancer with varying results, there is a lack of data assessing the impact of COPD on mortality in SCLC.

Researchers retrospectively analyzed the medical records of 110 patients with SCLC who underwent chemotherapy and categorized them into COPD or non-COPD groups according to their pulmonary function tests. The pulmonary function tests assessed forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) using a spirometer, and for this study COPD was defined as post-bronchodilator FEV1/FVC ratio < 0.70. Demographic and clinical characteristics were also gathered from medical records.

Results showed that median overall survival (OS) was 11.6 months and 11.2 months among patients in the COPD group and non-COPD group, respectively (P = .581). The median progression-free survival was 6.65 months among patients with COPD compared with 6.57 months among those without COPD (P = .559).

Additional analyses determined that having an ECOG status of at least 2 and advanced SCLC were independent risk factors that reduced OS; coexisting COPD, however, was not found to be associated with OS, PFS, or clinical characteristics such as ECOG performance status and response to therapy.

The authors concluded that “…studies with larger cohorts are required to more accurately determine an association between COPD and SCLC.”


  1. Ju S, Lee HR, Kim JY, et al. Impact of coexistent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on the survival of patients with small cell lung cancer receiving chemotherapy [published online August 14, 2018]. Thorac Cancer. doi: 10.1111/1759-7714.12832

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