December 29, 2021
Lung Cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers that is affecting both genders worldwide, annually. Despite awareness, oncologists across the globe are witnessing a spike in the cases of lung cancers, and this is a matter of concern.
Unfortunately, the numbers projected by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for lung cancer, whichare caused only due to tobacco consumption, are quite alarming. The statistics reveal that by 2025, India would record more than 4 lakhs of lung cancer cases alone, amounting to 27.2 per cent of India’s total of estimated cancer cases.
At this point, the possibility of new lung cancer cases in India stands at 6.9 per cent, with 93 per cent fatalities in both sexes.
What is Lung Cancer?
Lungs are spongy organs, shaped like cones located on either side of the chest.
The primary function of the lungs is to inhale oxygen, transport it into the bloodstream for other organs and exhale carbon dioxide. Both lungs perform similar functions but slightly differ in physiological features. The right lung consists of three lobes, while the left lung, which is smaller in size, has two lobes.
Lung cancer occurs when cancer cells originate in tissues, the lining of the air passages blocking its chief functions right from causing breathing difficulty, blood in cough, fatigue and many other complications.
What Causes Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is caused due to various reasons but there are certain definitive factors that can trigger this deadly condition.
If there is one reason that certainly tops the list that is smoking. Inhaling tobacco or chewing on it can damage the lungs irreparably, making a way for cancer cells.
If you are a smoker, remember that passive smoking or second-hand smoke is equally dangerous for your family, loved ones and friends standing next to you, even as you inhale tobacco, too are at an equal amount of lung cancer risk.
Many may not be aware but the presence of radon gas, a radioactive element present in rocks, soil and even in groundwater is a silent risk factor for lung cancer.
Genetic factors are equally responsible. If you were born into a family with a history of lung cancer or other cancers, get tested annually to rule out the sudden genetic mutations.
If you are exposed to carcinogenic compounds like arsenic, chromium, nickel, etc., at the workplace, be mindful of its negative impact on the lungs. If you are a smoker, the risk is far higher.
Can Lung Cancer Be Prevented?
Though there is no definite way to prevent lung or any other type of cancer, certain lifestyle and diet modifications will take you a long way in keeping your lungs healthy.
How to Prevent Lung Cancer?
When? Now! That’s right. If you are a smoker, it’s time to bid adieu to that cigarette. Numerous studies have proved that quitting smoking will leave an instantly positive result on the lungs, boost its power and reduce the risk of lung cancer at a great level. If you are a passive smoker, stay away from smokers be it at home or at work.
Look For Presence of Radon Gas:
Not many of us realize that air pollution can happen right in our houses, and it is very important to check our residences for the presence of radon gas. Get it tested for the presence of this hazardous gas, both at home and workplace as it is emitted from the cracks of the building.
Grow some indoor plants to do away with indoor air pollution.
Do you know that regular physical exercise keeps the lungs healthy? Working out regularly not only boosts lung health but helps in better circulation of oxygen through the body. Make yoga, pranayama or breathing exercises a part of your daily routine.
It is never too late to make certain dietary and lifestyle changes. Consume fresh vegetables and fruits that are loaded with various vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to give that extra health to the lungs and for overall well-being.
One of the easiest ways to prevent lung cancer is to keep with your doctor’s appointments and go for yearly check-ups. If you are prone to lung infections like bronchitis, pneumonia, especially during winters and seasonal changes, be all the more careful. Go for simple blood work and an X-ray, to breathe easy about health!
How do I Know if I Have Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer may not present with any symptoms in the initial stages. However, if you are experiencing the following difficulties, it’s time to see your doctor.
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Blood in sputum during cough also known as haemoptysis
- Pleural effusion or accumulation of fluid in the chest cavity
- Intense pain in the chest region and bones
How is Lung Cancer Diagnosed?
Lung cancer is diagnosed through some blood tests which are correlated with imaging tests for a better understanding of the type of cancer, its location, its stage, etc. These tests also help in finding out if the disease has spread to nearby organs.
Imaging tests, such as CT, MRI and PET scans aid in tracing out even the tiniest lesions and also reveal the presence of abnormal mass, nodules hiding in the lungs.
Lung cancer cells are identified by testing mucus under the microscope, and it is called sputum cytology.
Biopsy, wherein the tissue sample is collected from the lungs and examined under the microscope, helps in diagnosing lung cancer. A biopsy also discloses if cancer has metastasised which means it reached lymph nodes or other organs in the body.
What is the Treatment for Lung Cancer?
Surgery, where a small section, lobe or even a lung is removed, is usually recommended for a majority of lung cancer cases depending on the stage of the disease.
Chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy may be administered before or after the surgery, depending on the type of cancer.
Doctors may also recommend immunotherapy, targeted drug therapy, etc., depending on the type of lung cancer.
Unlike before, lung cancer is treatable today – be it in early stage or advanced stage.
One of the challenges seen in India when it comes to managing cancers successfully is that patients tend to ignore the symptoms of the disease and visit the doctor when they only become serious and need immediate medical attention. This leads to the delayed diagnosis of the condition, which negatively impacts the treatment and management of lung cancers.
Therefore, it is important for one to not ignore any symptoms that last for more than 2 weeks, and reach out to the doctor if there is anything abnormal.