LUNG CANCER TREATMENT IN INDIA

PREVENTION OF LUNG CANCER

Lung Cancer is the most common cancer in men. Smoking and tobacco consumption in different forms is the most common reason for lung cancer. Whereas smoking rates have plateaued or have started to decline in most of the western countries they are still not plateaued in India and in some of the regions like Haryana where it continues to be part of be part of local culture. Lax enforcement of laws banning smoking in public places in the country has also meant the rates of second hand smoke have also remained high adding to the burden of lung cancer in non- smokers. Lung cancer prevalence is also increasing in non-smokers specially females; the reasons for this is not entirely clear. The alarming increase in in the air pollution levels in most of the major cities in India is further fuelling the problem.

The other major challenge in the field is the very late presentation of these patients to specialists where the diagnosis is established. Often these patients continue to be treated for cough with cough syrups or are treated for Tuberculosis losing out on valuable time and delay in diagnosis.

The symptoms of Lung cancer can be variable and can be
  • Long standing cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain and discomfort
  • Blood in sputum
  • Loss of weight and appetite
  • Wheezing
If the cancer has already spread to other organs different symptoms can arise like :
  • Headache
  • Backache and joint pains
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • Weakness & lethargy
  • Swelling in neck (engorgement)

agnosis of lung cancer requires consultation with a chest specialist who will conduct a detailed clinical evaluation. A chest X-ray and CT scan of the chest will likely be required. The most definite diagnosis of lung cancer needs a small tissue to be taken of the tumour (biopsy). This is the most important step in the diagnosis of lung cancer and is important to determine the exact nature of lung cancer and look for certain mutations in the cells; all of this information is important to decide the best treatment option for the disease. This can be achieved by either doing a Bronchoscopy which is passing a small tube (which has a camera at the end) through the nose into the lungs and taking biopsy under vision or directly putting a needle into the tumour under CT or USG guidance. The biopsy specimen is examined under microscope by the histo- pathologists after staining with different chemicals. This process may take few days sometimes up to a week

Once the diagnosis is established further tests may be required to look for spread of cancer (metastasis) like a PET scan. After evaluating this detailed treatment strategy is made. Depending on the type and spread of the disease the treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy or Radiotherpy. It is important to sit down with your treating physician to completely understand the treatment journey which will likely have many highs and lows.

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