BACKGROUND: The high relapse and mortality rate of small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) fuels the need for epidemiologic study to aid in its prevention.
METHODS: We included 24 studies from the ILCCO collaboration. Random-effects panel logistic regression and cubic spline regression were used to estimate the effects of smoking behaviors on SCLC risk and explore their non-linearity. Further, we explored whether the risk of smoking on SCLC was mediated through COPD.
FINDINGS: Significant dose-response relationships of SCLC risk were observed for all quantitative smoking variables. Smoking pack-years were associated with a sharper increase of SCLC risk for pack-years ranged 0 to approximately 50. The former smokers with longer cessation showed a 43%quit_for_5-9 years to 89%quit_for_≥ 20 years declined SCLC risk vs. subjects who had quit smoking < 5 years. Compared with non-COPD subjects, smoking behaviors showed a significantly higher effect on SCLC risk among COPD subjects, and further, COPD patients showed a 1.86-fold higher risk of SCLC. Furthermore, smoking behaviors on SCLC risk were significantly mediated through COPD which accounted for 0.70% to 7.55% of total effects.
INTERPRETATION: This is the largest pooling study that provides improved understanding of smoking on SCLC, and further demonstrates a causal pathway through COPD that warrants further experimental study.