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Inhal Toxicol. 2017 Jan;29(1):18-22. doi: 10.1080/08958378.2016.1272652.

Spirometry: a predictor of lung cancer among asbestos workers.

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a Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Department of Environmental Epidemiology , The Reference Center for Asbestos Exposure & Health Risk Assessment , Łódź , Poland.



The significance of lung function as an independent risk factor for lung cancer remains unclear. The objective of the study is to answer the question if spirometry can identify patients at risk for lung cancer among people occupationally exposed to asbestos dust in the past.


In order to identify a group of individuals with the highest risk of lung cancer incidence based on lung function levels of FEV1% predicted value, we examined 6882 subjects enrolled in the health surveillance program for asbestos related diseases over the years 2000-2014. We found a total of 110 cases confirmed as primary lung cancer.


Using Cox's proportional hazards model after adjustment for age, gender, number of cigarettes, duration of smoking and cumulative asbestos exposure, we estimated that compared with the subjects with FEV1 ≥90% pred, the HR of lung cancer was 1.40 (95%CI: 0.94-2.08) for the subjects with FEV1 less than 90% and 1.95 (HR = 1.86; 95%CI: 1.12-3.08) for those with FEV1 less than 70%. In addition, probability of the occurrence of lung cancer for FEV1 <90% of the predicted value was HR = 2.19 (95%CI: 1.04-4.61) in the subjects whose time since spirometry and cancer diagnosis was three years or less.


The results strongly support the hypothesis that spirometry can identify patients at a risk of lung cancer development. Regular spirometry should be offered to all patients with a history of asbestos exposure, at least once every three years.


asbestos workers; long-term observation; lung cancer risk; lung function; spirometry

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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