THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Lung cancer remains the worst killer among various forms of malignancies and the number of patients suffering from the disease is on the rise in the state, health experts say. The disease, which was considered rare in the past, has become more prevalent and studies show that the number of deaths due to lung cancer is more than those caused by cancers of breast, colon and prostate together.
“Lung cancer was considered a rare disease when I was a student. But now we get 3 to 5 cases every week,” said Dr P S Shajahan, professor of pulmonary medicine at Government TD Medical College, Alappuzha, and Academy of Pulmonary and president of Critical Care Medicine. “Earlier, the disease was confined to elderly and smokers. But today youngsters, women and even children are affected by lung cancer,” he said.
Dr Shajahan said tobacco smoking is considered the principal causative factor of lung cancer. “Increasing air pollution especially traffic-related air pollution, occupational exposures, natural radiations and other factors also contribute to this dreaded disease,” he said.
While the prognosis of cancers affecting various other organs improved tremendously, that of lung cancer is still a difficult one. “Most of the lung cancer cases are detected at a late stage. Patients usually keep aside the symptoms that start as a cough. By the time the cancer is detected the tumour in lungs would spread to other parts making the outcome difficult,” said Dr Aju Mathew, oncologist at the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church Medical College, Kolenchery.
He said that the treatment of lung cancer has remained challenging and the cost of treatment increased despite the advancement in methods. According to Cancer Data Base Survey, only 26% is diagnosed in Stage 1; 8.3 % in Stage 2; 27.6 % in Stage 3 and 38.1 % in Stage 4. The decline in tobacco consumption offers a ray of hope for reducing the disease burden.
“The share of all non-communicable diseases including cancers have increased. Primarily due to increased use of tobacco and alcohol, and reduced physical activities. Smoking is an important risk factor for lung cancer. It will take some more time to benefit from the general reduction in tobacco consumption,” said Rijo M John, a health economist.
Lung Cancer day August 1
- Chronic troublesome cough
- Coughing out blood (Hemoptysis)
- Chest pain
- Hoarse voice
- Sudden loss of weight
- Swelling of lymph glands in the neck or axilla