The Rising Incidence of Lung Cancer in Indian Men: Experts Speak

IANS  |  Updated: July 13, 2017 11:19 IST

The Rising Incidence of Lung Cancer in Indian Men: Experts Speak
Lung cancer is no more a smoker's disease and has moved to the top of the category of life-threatening ailments among Indian males and in the coming years women may also have to face a higher risk of developing lung cancer, expressed doctors in the national capital.

"Of late, lung cancer has moved to number one position among cancers in males in India. But the coming years will see that happen among females as well," said Arvind Kumar, chairman of Centre for Chest Surgery and director of Institute of Robotic Surgery, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. "Overall the coming decade is going to be one of lung disorders in our country. Timely corrective action and suitable treatment facilities may help tame the ill effect of this disaster waiting to happen," Kumar said, as the world observes lung cancer awareness month in November.

As doctors and healthcare staff all over the world prepare to create better understanding about lung cancer, their biggest concern is that the dreaded disease often goes undetected due to lack of awareness among afflicted patients. Symptoms like persistent cold, cough, accompanied by sputum or blood, and signs of breathlessness call for a visit to an experienced medical practitioner, they maintain. But these conditions are often attributed to changing weather, prompting home remedies or over-the-counter antibiotics.
This delays the visit to a doctor and thereby the chances of timely detection. A simple sputum test or an x-ray can diagnose the same, but even experienced general practitioners may mistake it for tuberculosis. "Nicotine in cigarettes is as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Out of the 4,000 chemicals in them, over 50 are highly carcinogenic. A carcinogen element is something that causes cancer. And we all know that cancer is a disease that often kills those who have it," Kumar said.

"While smoking is a known risk factor for lung cancer, pollution, passive smoking and hazardous work environment -- like asbestos, mica, coal and bauxite mining -- also affect your lung health," said L.M. Darlong, Head of Thoracic Surgery at Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre.

According to him, lung cancer among non-smokers, younger adults especially women who have been initially treated for tuberculosis is very prevalent in India.  To eliminate all doubts, doctors prescribe a screening, low dose CT Scan or biopsy, also referred to as tissue diagnosis, done by taking a small part of lung tissue for a test. They explained that surgery is the best method to remove cancerous tissues that manifest in the form of nodules or lesions visible in X-Ray or a CT Scan. Regular post-surgery follow-up tests are also recommended for further treatments like radiation or immune therapy, if needed.

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Ali Zamir Khan, head - Medanta Institute for Robotic Thoracic Surgery, said, "Smoker's cough is not to be taken lightly as it may be early signs of cancer. Cigarette smoke destroys the special tracheal hair designed to trap germs and other foreign particles that enter the airways when a person breathes. This prevents the trachea from throwing out phlegm, hence causing cough."

Lungs are one of the most fragile organs of the human anatomy, playing a critical role in supplying oxygen to the blood. Smoking leaves carbon monoxide in the lungs for as long as eight hours after the last puff is inhaled, leaving that much less space for oxygen in the lungs, Dr. Khan added.

CommentsDoctors also spoke in favour of the new robotic surgery which is being propogated by the Michigan-based non-profit Vattikuti Foundation due to minimal blood loss, shorter hospital stays, quicker healing of wounds and healthier post-operative life.

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