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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is undiagnosed in the majority

09/27/2006 - News

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is undiagnosed in the majority

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is undiagnosed in the majority

Reported by Susan Aldridge, PhD, medical journalist

Four out of five of those who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are undiagnosed and think they just have smoking-related symptoms.
Smoking is a primary cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and also of lung cancer. Yet a study from the leading charity Cancer Research UK reveals that most smokers with COPD simply do not realize the danger they are in.

A survey of over 8,000 adults in the UK reveals over one thousand had COPD, according to their lung function tests. But 80 per cent were unaware of this, as they had not been diagnosed. More than a third of them were still smoking and another third were ex-smokers. The smokers with COPD actually seemed more dependent than the smokers who did not have COPD. And they were no more motivated to quit.

But quitting can improve COPD, at least in the early stages. Many smokers mistake the symptoms of COPD for the effect of smoking - they think that a cough and breathlessness on exertion are 'normal' for them. Clearly there needs to be more awareness of COPD and its effects - including a greater risk of lung cancer. Giving up smoking is the best thing people with COPD can do for themselves and they need to be given appropriate support.

Source
Thorax online 19th September 2006

Created on: 09/27/2006
Reviewed on: 09/27/2006

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