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Lynne Eldridge MD

Pneumonia May Be Sign of Lung Cancer

By January 7, 2010

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I don't want to be an alarmist, but if you or a loved one have had pneumonia recently, you might wish to talk to your doctor about a new study.


Researchers looked at over 40,000 individuals without lung cancer who had been hospitalized with pneumonia, and found that a full 9% of these people were later diagnosed with lung cancer.

But there was a delay. Only 27% found out within 3 months, and the median time (the time at which half of the people had been diagnosed and half of the people did not yet know they had lung cancer) was 297 days.

Almost a year.

Too long - especially for a disease where the survival rate drops rapidly the longer it goes undiagnosed.

So what should we do with this information? Researchers are talking about that question. Until we hear more, it may be wise as patients and loved ones of patients who have had pneumonia, to talk about this study with your doctor, and ask her opinion on whether or not you should be screened for lung cancer.

Suggested Reading:


Mortenson, E. et al. Diagnosis of Pulmonary Malignancy after Hospitalization for Pneumonia. The American Journal of Medicine. 2010. 123(1):66-71.

January 27, 2011 at 1:55 pm
(1) reader says:

I have to say for not being an alarmist you presented the data in an alarming way. If you read the actual study, it states that indicators that increased odds of a malignant diagnosis were repeated pulmonary diseases, other malignancies, and smoking- all of which increase your chances of getting lung cancer. Take into consideration that frequently coming down with bronchitis and pneumonia is a warning sign of cancer and your left with chicken or egg here. Instead of presenting it as if 9% of EVERY 47000 that get pneumonia develop cancer, you should state 9% of every 47000 that FREQUENTLY. Develop pneumonia further develop cancer.

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