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CT scans used to look for signs of lung cancer may also pick up early chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in men with a history of heavy smoking.

The findings come from a study of more than 1,000 men who were part of a lung cancer screening trial. The men also had lung function tests that can help detect COPD, which is a major cause of death in heavy smokers. The lung function tests found COPD in 38 percent of the men. The researchers then used CT scans to look for emphysema, a common form of COPD. They found the scans were able to correctly identify COPD in 76 percent of cases, HealthDay reports.

“Among men who were current or former heavy smokers, undergoing lung cancer screening with CT scanning identified a substantial proportion who had COPD, suggesting that this method may be helpful as an additional tool in detecting COPD,” said lead author Dr. Pim A. de Jong of University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands.

The findings are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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