Polonium in bronchial washing specimens of smoker, ex-smoker and non-smoker patients with lung cancer
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Sapienza University, Rome, Italy
SITAB (Società Italiana di Tabaccologia), Italy
Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy
A.O.R.N.A. Cardarelli, Napoli, Italy
Ospedale Maggiore e Azienda Policlinico S. Orsola-Malpighi, Italy
Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, Italy
U-SERIES Lab, Bologna, Italy
Publication date: 2019-03-26
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2019;5(Supplement):A54
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The aim of this study was to verify the presence of radioactive Polonium (Po-210) in the lungs of patients with lung cancer who were smokers, ex-smokers and never-smokers.

Bronchial washing specimens of 55 patients diagnosed with non-microcytoma lung cancer (NSCLC), underwent alpha spectrometric analysis in order to detect the presence of Polonium 210 (Po-210) (primary end point). Patients were divided into 3 arms (smokers, ex-smokers, never-smokers). The detection of alpha radioactivity in urine and the detection of spirometric data were also performed (secondary end points). Each patient was then given a kit for the detection of the environmental Radon at home (for 3 months).

67 Bronchial washings were examined: 22 of smokers, 35 of ex-smokers and 10 of never-smokers. The Polonium was detected in 100% of the current smokers (mean 6 mBq) and of the ex-smokers (mean 4 mBq) bronchial washings, while it was detected only in 60% of the never-smokers bronchial washings. It is interesting that ex- smokers had quit smoking for at least 5 years. There were even 3 patients who quit 11, 17 and 20 years before. All patients presented a picture of chronic bronchitis or had a spirometry that could be classified as stage I or II GOLD. This suggests that heavy metal retention is more a function of mucociliary clearance than bronchial obstruction.

The presence of Po-210 in the ex-smoker bronchial washings is an important finding both for understanding lung carcinogenesis and for health education and therapeutic recommendations.

Grant from the National Institute of Health of the Italian Ministry of Health (Istituto Superiore di Sanità - Ministero della Salute).
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