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