Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Lung cancer occurs when cells in the lungs multiply abnormally and form a malignant tumor. In India, lung cancer accounts for 5.9% of all cancers and 8.1% of all cancer-related deaths. In 2020, there were more than 2.2 million new cancer cases worldwide. About 81,200 cases of lung cancer have been diagnosed in India.
Whether you are a smoker or a non-smoker, lung cancer can still affect you
ICMR researchers report that by 2025, lung cancer cases are likely to increase sevenfold compared to ten years ago due to a lack of population-level screening tools. In nearly 45% of lung cancer cases, the cancer has spread to other parts of the body by the time it is diagnosed.
While the prevalence of smoking in patients with lung cancer is almost 80%, even the concerned non-smokers cannot be immune to lung cancer due to increasing air pollution.
August 1st is celebrated as World Lung Cancer Day. dr Jyoti Wadhwa, senior director of medical oncology at a hospital in Gurgaon, says: “Lung cancer is a common cancer that affects both men and women. There are different types and therefore treatment needs to be tailored to the subtype and stage of a particular patient in order to achieve the best possible outcome.”
How are the patients treated?
“A multidisciplinary team approach is followed to create the best treatment plan for a specific case. Surgery, radiotherapy, and medical treatments of various types have helped improve patient outcomes. Effective medical treatments in the form of targeted therapy, immunotherapy and chemotherapy increase the quantity and quality of life of a patient.
“With improvements in personalized treatment for lung cancer, early-stage cancer patients are being cured and stage 4 cancer patients are living much longer and better lives. So there is a lot of hope for the prevention and treatment of lung cancer in 2022,” says Dr. Wadhwa.
The road to a smooth recovery
dr (Col) P Suresh, Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology, says lung cancer patients often have trouble returning home after surgery. “The lobectomy is a common lung cancer surgery in which one of the lobes is removed from the lung. After surgery, the missing lobe is replaced with healthy tissue from the body, allowing the lungs to function properly. It’s a major operation that will take time to heal.”
After the operation, pain, shortness of breath, dry cough and fatigue may occur. To speed recovery, follow your doctor’s orders regarding medication, activity, driving, and incision care, says Dr. Suresh.
“Typically, patients are more emotional during recovery, but that’s natural as recovery after cancer surgery is tremendous. This can be remedied by keeping a journal or making an appointment with a cancer psychologist.
In addition to getting plenty of rest after surgery, your doctor may recommend some level of aerobic exercise each day to help prevent deconditioning. Even a short walk can reduce the risk of blood clots and keep your heart healthy. It’s normal to feel short of breath at first, so start slow and build up gradually,” adds Dr. Suresh added.