Can CPAP Cause Lung Cancer/Lung Damage?

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CPAP cause lung cancer

We’ve been getting lots of calls from consumers asking if their Philips CPAP can cause cancer or lung problems. It’s been making the news headlines lately so we thought we’d break down the science behind these CPAP machines to see if there is evidence to support these questions.

We reported back on July 9 the urgent voluntary recall by Philips for its CPAP and BiPAP machines that were sold from 2009 to 2021. Here is brief recap of that article:

Philips, a global health technology company and manufacturer of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, issued an urgent recall of its sleep apnea devices after discovering that the sound dampening foam used can break down and create a serious cancer risk to patients. The recalled CPAP and BiPAP devices use “PE-PUR”, a polyester-based polyurethane foam that can be dangerous if inhaled.

Philips also revealed that as the foam degrades and breaks down over time, their popular CPAP machines may begin to emit toxic organic compounds that are known to cause organ damage, lung cancer and lung damage.

Philips CEO, Frans van Houten, issued a public apology on behalf of the company for the health risks that the Philips CPAP machines may have caused: “We deeply regret any concern and inconvenience that patients using the affected devices will experience because of the proactive measures we are announcing today to ensure patient safety.”

The news website took a look at the CPAP cancer link on June 14, 2021 and spoke to Frans van Houten who said between 3 to 4 million would be targeted for the recall. He went on to state;  

“We’re going to put all our capacity to focus entirely on replacing and repairing these units.”

Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison Wisconsin did a study over a 20 year period of more than 1500 state workers for sleep apnea found an increased risk of death from cancer. They delivered the results of the study to the American Thoracic Society 2012 International Conference.

F. Javier Nieto, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison made this statement: “This is the first study to show that sleep apnea is related to increased risk of cancer death.”  

We can associate the mere fact that having sleep apnea shows an increase for lung cancer simply on its own, but what happens when people are connected to their CPAP machines?

Philips has stated that it found “possible patient impact due to foam degradation,” and “To date, there have been no reports of death as a result of these issues.”

However we know that most cancers, including lung cancer, take time to grow and affect the lungs. Metastatic lung cancer is a type of lung cancer that originated from a different part of the body and spread to the lungs – so we can rule out that type of cancer. But primary lung cancer starts in the lungs, and this is type that is suspect to CPAP foam degradation.

Is the CPAP Foam Degradation the lung cancer link culprit?

CPAP machines are noisy machines and to improve people’s rest period are insulated with sound deadening foam. This is a polyester-based polyurethane called PE-PUR.  Philips has produced millions of Bi-Level PAP, CPAP and mechanical ventilator devices using this PE-PUR. This foam may degrade into particles which can enter the CPAP’s air pathway and be ingested or inhaled by the user, and the foam may off-gas certain chemicals.

What does the FDA recommend for CPAP users?

We researched the FDA website for guidance on the CPAP lung cancer issue. Philips (working with the FDA) offers the following recommendations for CPAP users:

  • For patients using BiLevel PAP and CPAP devices: Discontinue use of your device and work with your physician or Durable Medical Equipment (DME) provider to determine the most appropriate options for continued treatment. To continue use of your device due to lack of alternatives, consult with your physician to determine if the benefit of continuing therapy with your device outweighs the risks identified in the recall notification.*
  • For patients using life-sustaining mechanical ventilator devices: Do not stop or alter your prescribed therapy until you have talked to your physician. Philips recognizes that alternate ventilator options for therapy may not exist or may be severely limited for patients who require a ventilator for life-sustaining therapy, or in cases where therapy disruption is unacceptable. In these situations, and at the discretion of the treating clinical team, the benefit of continued usage of these ventilator devices may outweigh the risks identified in the recall notification.*

What if I’m diagnosed with lung cancer from my CPAP machine?

For more information about the possible Philips CPAP lung cancer link and recall and what you should do, please contact us directly at 1-800-631-5656.

Our team of injury advocates at Schmidt National Law Firm is highly concerned about the cancer risks associated with these recalled sleep apnea CPAP machines and is offering free consultations to anyone who uses these devices. 

Our law firm is actively investigating these medical devices and potential injury cases resulting from the usage of these devices in an effort to help protect the health of CPAP users and hold manufacturers accountable. 

Contact us today for a confidential consultation using the 100% secure form, or you can call us directly at 1-800-631-5656.


Can CPAP Cause Lung Cancer Lung Damage page updated on August 6, 2021.