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World No Tobacco Day 2018: Lung cancer affects 63,000 people in India every year

On World No Tobacco Day observed on May 31, let's raise awareness about this deadly disease as tobacco and smoking remain the no 1 risk factors for lung cancer.

Written by Debjani Arora |Published : May 28, 2018 7:20 PM IST

Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide today. Moreover, there are 1.61 million new cases of lung cancer per year and 1.38 million deaths, making lung cancer the leading cause of cancer-related mortality2. The overall 5-year survival rate of lung cancer is dismal with approximately 15% in developed countries and 5% in developing countries respectively3. This could be attributed to delayed screening and miss diagnosis of lung cancer in the initial stages. There is a dire need to raise awareness among patients and caregivers about lung cancer.

Tobacco and smoking remain the number one risk factor for lung cancer with about 80% of lung cancer deaths thought to result from smoking. People who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer than people who do not smoke5. However, there is a rising prevalence of lung cancer among non-smokers.

"In India, every sixth second a person loses his life battling diseases gifted to him by the consumption of tobacco. An estimated 60 million people die due to tobacco-related diseases, with nearly 10% being second-hand smokers including family members losing their lives for the innocent mistake of breathing the same air as the smoker does. It is important to understand the early signs of lung cancer, get regular early screening and seek appropriate treatment," explains Dr Atul Mishra, Professor and Unit Head, Department of Surgery, DMC.

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Most lung cancers can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy or a combination of three. Commenting on the importance of early interventions, Dr Atul Mishra said, "The goal of lung cancer screening is to detect lung cancer at a very early stage when it is more likely to be cured. "In Punjab alone, 9 out of 10 lung cancer patients consult a surgeon very late only during stage 3 or stage 4. Patients should see appropriate treatment in stage 1 and 2 when surgery can help."

Studies show lung cancer screening reduces the risk of dying of lung cancer7. Doctors use a low-computerized tomography (CT) scan, biopsy or sputum analysis tests to look for lung cancer.

"With advancements in treatment options including surgery procedures such as VATS (Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery), a form of minimally invasive keyhole surgical technique used to diagnose and treat problems in the chest, lung cancer can be managed in early stages. These newer techniques are designed to reduce pain, reduce hospital stay and help patients return to normal life quicker," adds Dr Atul Mishra.

Know the early signs of lung cancer

The symptoms of cancer are varied and depend on the type of cell affected, where it has spread and how big the tumour is. Some types of cancer do not present any symptoms until they are in advanced stages. Thus, cancer screening and risk assessment are vital for cancer prevention and early detection. A broad spectrum of non-specific cancer symptoms may include:

  • A cough that does not go away or gets worse
  • Coughing up blood or rust-coloured sputum
  • Chest pain that often gets worse with deep breathing or coughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Recurrent bronchitis and pneumonia

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