KOCHI: Doctors at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences here have observed a 20% rise in the number of lung cancer patients reporting at the hospital as compared to the pre-Covid lockdown period. Of these, 50% have reached advanced stages as they had ignored the symptoms. Around 70% of them did not visit the hospital despite having active symptoms such as cough and mild breathing issues.
Dr Tinku Joseph K, chief of interventional pulmonology at the hospital, said at a media conference on Tuesday that lung cancer detection rates had significantly reduced during the lockdown period. “After the restrictions were lifted, we observed a substantial surge in the number of patients visiting our OPD with advanced stages of lung cancer. Of all lung cancer patients who came to us, 70% said they had active symptoms like cough and mild breathing difficulty, but they were reluctant to visit hospitals due to the fear of getting Covid infection. Hence, we have seen a 20% rise in the number of lung cancer patients now as compared to pre-lockdown period.”
According to the National Cancer Registry of India, 27% of lung cancer cases had tobacco consumption as the main cause. Staying away from smoking and having a regular exercise routine can go a long way in preventing lung cancer. “The lack of a reliable lung cancer screening programm made the situation worse during Covid for lung cancer patients. A significant number of people in India are smokers. We feel there is a pressing need for a structured lung cancer screening programme,” said Dr Wesley M Jose, clinical associate professor, Department of Medical Oncology and Hematology, AIMS.