Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is one of the most avoidable diseases known, as it is mostly acquired by tobacco smoking. Every one of the thousands of COPD patients we've treated over the years smoked cigarettes. Each one regretted smoking and wished they had never started in the first place. If only someone had told them when they were younger.
We hope to catch patients early, long before COPD becomes debilitating. One thought, is to screen patients for COPD. This can be a double edged sword because a patient may not want to quit if they show no early signs of COPD and continue to smoke. However, if they do show signs of COPD, they may think it's too late to stop and keep smoking. You just never know how people will respond. The other question is whether we can devise an effective prescreening program.
A recent study hoped to answer that second question. The researchers concluded that prescreening was easy to perform. But the question remains if patients will respond by quitting smoking. If the process works as it is hoped, that we could see a dramatic reduction in COPD symptoms and disease over the next 20 years.