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Friday 28th October 2016

Lung disease undiagnosed

21st September 2006

21092006_smoker1.jpgAccording to research published in the journal Thorax shows that four out of five adults with a long-term lung disease do not know they are affected by the disease, despite it being potentially fatal.

Only 18.8% of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have had it diagnosed, and only half (46%) of those in its severe stages are aware that they have it.

This is the first large-scale study on the prevalence of the disease and has been undertaken by researchers at Cancer Research UK. They looked at the results of lung function and saliva tests from 8,215 people aged over 35. 

The team questioned them on whether they had ever been diagnosed with the COPD or with asthma, for which the disease is often mistaken. They found that 1,093 people had COPD based on impaired lung function, however more than 80% said they had not received diagnosis of any kind. The researchers found that more than 30% of sufferers smoked and a further 35% were former smokers.

Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said "There is a real need to increase public awareness of this insidious disease." Smokers are particularly prone to COPD, but can halt its progression if they are diagnosed sufficiently early and stop smoking. Smokers often dismiss the symptoms of COPD as an inevitable side effect.

COPD is the sixth most common cause of death in England and Wales and kills more than 30,000 people each year.

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