The earlier, the better: Impact of early diagnosis on clinical outcome in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Marina Aiello, Giuseppina Bertorelli, Marialuisa Bocchino, Alfredo Chetta, Alfeo Fiore-Donati, Alessandro Fois, Stefano Marinari, Tiberio Oggionni, Biagio Polla, Elisabetta Rosi, Anna Stanziola, Francesco Varone, Alessandro Sanduzzi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a complex disease with a highly variable clinical course and generally poor prognosis. Classified as a rare disease, significant increases in incidence have been recorded worldwide in recent years. Left untreated IPF is extremely debilitating with substantial personal, social and economic implications. Objectives To discuss how IPF is diagnosed and managed in real life clinical practice with particular reference to Italy and to determine how new and effective therapies can be incorporated into a patient-centred management approach in order to improve the lives of patients with IPF. Outcomes Barriers to early diagnosis are discussed. Cited reasons for delays in diagnosing IPF in Italy include: inherent difficulties in diagnosis; lack of knowledge/awareness of the condition among point-of-contact healthcare professionals; delays in referral to centres of excellence and underestimation of symptoms by both patients and healthcare workers. Valid therapeutic options with demonstrated efficacy in slowing the decline in lung function are now available for patients with IPF. The ASCEND trial confirmed the effects of pirfenidone, approved for the treatment of IPF on the basis of the four phase III trials. Nintedanib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor that targets the PDGF receptors α/β, FGF receptors 1 to 3, and VEGF receptors 1–3, is approved in the USA and the EU for the treatment of IPF. The TOMORROW and the INPULSIS placebo controlled trials in patients with IPF confirm the efficacy and safety of nintedanib and recent interim analyses endorse its long-term effects in slowing disease progression. Conclusions The importance of early and accurate diagnosis of IPF cannot be underestimated and it is the duty of all healthcare professionals to be vigilant to the symptoms of IPF and to involve a multidisciplinary team in diagnosing and managing IPF early in the course of disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-15
Number of pages9
JournalPulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Diagnosis
  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
  • Nintedanib
  • Pirfenidone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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