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Lung cancer survival: 6 things that influence life expectancy post-diagnosis and treatment

Not just early detection, there are various other factors that influence the survival after lung cancer treatment.

Written by Debjani Arora |Published : November 16, 2017 1:28 PM IST

Lung cancer undoubtedly is one of the most life-threatening conditions faced by Indian men. This is not to say that women don t suffer from this cancer. The numbers are more in men because most often it affects smokers. With changing lifestyle and globalisation, women are also falling prey to this cancer rapidly. But one needs to know that lung cancer is not just a smoker s disease there are several other factors like environmental pollution, low immunity, genetics that can lead to lung cancer. Here, Dr Sandeep Nayak consultant surgical oncologist, Fortis Hospital, tells us how people cope post diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer and factors that influence the survival of the patient.

Detecting lung cancer

Like all cancers, early detection of lung cancer can increase the chances of survival and decrease the cost of treatment and post-operation complexities. There are usually no signs or symptoms of lung cancer when it is in the initial stages. As the condition worsens one might start experiencing coughing, blood in mucus, breathlessness, chest pain, etc and other signs and symptoms of lung cancer. There is usually a delay in lung cancer patients in getting treatment after they develop the first set of symptoms. This is why timely detection of lung cancer is necessary to increase the survival rates after diagnosis and treatment.

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The best possible way to treat lung cancer is by surgery. This happens when cancer is detected in the early stage. Even some stage III cancers may get good results with surgery (after chemotherapy). Laparoscopic video-assisted thoracoscopic (VATS) or robotic lung cancer surgery makes the surgery very comfortable and promises good results.

Surviving lung cancer

Undergoing a surgery promises better outcomes and improves survival rates. But when it comes to coping with the aftermath of cancer surgery, chemotherapy, psychological trauma it depends from one person to another. There aren t any numbers that one can suggest while ascertaining the survival rates as lifestyle modifications post-treatment, genetic factors and other physiological factors matter when it comes to determining the survival rates, here are a few of them:

  1. Age: Young people respond better to the treatments such as chemotherapy and cope better post the surgery. Their bodies are better able to deal with the post-surgery strains and fight the post-operation fatigue than the elderly. One reason why survival rates in younger lung cancer patients are higher than the elderly, beyond the five year wait period.
  2. Sex: Women tend to have a better prognosis with lung cancer at each stage of the disease and their survival rates are better than men.
  3. Other medical conditions: People who have other serious medical conditions such as heart disease or lung disease do not usually do as well as those who are healthy. Also, cancer worsens for the people who have diabetes both type I and type II. In fact, there are data which suggests that diabetics, if diagnosed with one or more types of cancer, are more likely to die from cancer than non-diabetics.
  4. Immunity and strength: Some people are able to cope with the treatment and medicines better than others while some may take a lot of time to adapt to the treatment process. This depends on each body type, some have better immunity and might have led a fitter lifestyle that helps them to cope. The sooner they are able to cope with the medications and treatment the better is the survival rates.
  5. The extent of lung damage: The survival rate also depends on the severity of the lung condition. There are many possible complications of lung cancer especially if it is diagnosed at a later stage. If the condition has not metastasised better the survival.
  6. Smoking: This vice is known to kill a lot of people and not just by making one prone to lung cancer. If a person continues to smoke even after getting diagnosed with lung cancer, it can reduce the survival rate and can increase the risk of complications from surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapies.

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