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Lung cancer is a major health concern worldwide, with significant impacts in regions like Delhi, India, where environmental factors and lifestyle choices contribute to its prevalence. This article simplifies the complexities of lung cancer, focusing on prevention, the latest in targeted and immunotherapies, and vital statistics to offer a clearer understanding of the disease. Lung cancer remains one of the most common and serious types of cancer, characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells in the lungs. It is the 4th most common cause of cancer in India. As a lung cancer expert in Delhi, India, where environmental factors and smoking contribute significantly to the prevalence of lung cancer, understanding the disease's intricacies is paramount for effective treatment and patient care. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of lung cancer including the latest treatment options. Dr Ashish Gupta USA a trained, American board-certified medical oncologist, Chief of Medical Oncology, Unique Hospital Cancer Centre, Dwarka India shares some insights.
We know now that not all lung cancer is the same. Just like each one of us is unique, each lung cancer is also unique. This understanding has led to the development of new modern therapies in the last 5-10 years have dramatically altered the prognosis and cure rate for lung cancers.
Lung cancer is primarily categorized into two main types based on the appearance of lung cancer cells under a microscope: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). NSCLC accounts for approximately 85% of cases and includes subtypes such as adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma. SCLC, known for its rapid growth and spread, constitutes about 10-15% of lung cancers.
The primary cause of lung cancer is tobacco smoke, responsible for about 85% of lung cancer cases worldwide. Non-smokers can also develop lung cancer due to exposure to radon gas, asbestos, air pollution, and genetic factors. In Delhi, the high levels of air pollution are a significant concern, contributing to the increasing incidence of lung cancer among non-smokers.
Early-stage lung cancer often does not present any symptoms. However, as the disease progresses, symptoms may include persistent cough, coughing up blood, chest pain, hoarseness, weight loss, and difficulty breathing. Early detection is crucial for successful treatment, making it important for individuals at risk to undergo regular screenings.
Diagnosis of lung cancer involves a combination of imaging tests, such as chest X-rays and CT scans, followed by a biopsy to examine lung tissue for cancer cells. Advanced diagnostic techniques, including PET scans and molecular testing, are used to determine the specific type and stage of lung cancer, which is critical for tailoring treatment strategies.
Treatment for lung cancer depends on the type, stage, and overall health of the patient. Options include surgery to remove the tumor, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.
Recent years have seen remarkable advances in lung cancer treatments, particularly with targeted therapy and immunotherapy, especially those with certain genetic mutations or biomarkers.
These approaches are designed to specifically attack cancer cells without harming normal cells, offering a more personalized treatment plan based on the genetic makeup of the tumor.
This treatment focuses on specific genes or proteins found in cancer cells. For patients with certain genetic mutations, targeted drugs can block the growth and spread of cancer, offering a more effective treatment option with fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy.
This innovative approach boosts the body's natural defenses to fight cancer. By stimulating or restoring the immune system's ability to detect and destroy cancer cells, immunotherapy has shown promise in improving survival rates for lung cancer patients.
Lung cancer remains a formidable health challenge, but with ongoing research and advancements in treatment options, there is hope for better outcomes. Prevention, through smoking cessation and reducing exposure to environmental risk factors, remains the most effective strategy against lung cancer. As medical professionals, staying informed about the latest developments in lung cancer research and treatment is essential for providing the best possible care to patients.