After its inception in 2012, August 1st is celebrated as World Lung Cancer Day. At the start of the 20th century, Lung cancer was fairly uncommon, unlike the current times. Lung health is a preventive illness. By quitting smoking and other aggravators of this disease one can completely avoid having it. We at MediCircle aim to educate everyone on how to tackle this illness. We aim to achieve this by our initiative of the World Health Lung Cancer Day Series.
Dr. Salil Patkar is a super specialist oncologist. He has been associated with renowned cancer institutes and has completed his DM in Oncology and Haematology from Gujarat Cancer and Research Institute. He is an expert in cancer diagnosis and management. He is well known for his understanding of chemotherapy, molecular targeted therapy, hormonal and immunological treatment. He is a Consultant Medical Oncologist at Apollo Hospitals and an Oncologist at Oncura Hematology & Oncology Care. He has good experience in treating breast cancer, lung cancer, head, and neck cancer (Oral or check cancer).
Lung Cancer is avoidable
He tells, “There are many types of cancer. Mainly they can be categorised into two brackets. In category one Genetics play a huge role. In the second category habits create cancer, specially in lung cancer and oral cancer. The habits that create this type of cancer, in 90% of the cases, is the consumption of tobacco in any form be it beedi, cigarette or tobacco. Many also have this misunderstanding that tobacco can cause only lung or oral cancer. But that is not true. Tobacco contains more than 200 carcinogenic, or cancer causing substances. The risk of getting cancer from tobacco consumption is 15 to 20 times higher. They can trigger cancer in any part of the body, like kidney cancer, stomach cancer or colon cancer. Tobacco is really dangerous as it can cause mutations in one’s DNA. In 90% of the cases tobacco consumption causes oral cancer. Afterwards, pollution can affect someone too. With rising air pollution, one can get cancer in lungs after breathing so much polluted air.”
Nicotine and Addiction
He explains, “People wonder why when everyone knows the harm caused by smoking, do people still smoke? Many know the large number in which people are getting cancer because of smoking. The reason behind this is Nicotine. The makers of cigarettes or tobacco purposefully add a substance called nicotine. Nicotine comes with addictive qualities. In our brain, there’s a reward centre. When one smokes, the nicotine present in the cigarette causes dopamine to release in this reward section of the brain. So while one smokes, they feel happy. This happy feeling soon morphs into addiction.”
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
He mentions, “The initial symptoms of this type of cancer is very similar to tuberculosis (TB). A patient will cough for months, sometimes there will be blood in coughing, low fever is possible and he or she may have lost weight. If one coughs for more than 3 months or feels breathlessness, then these red flags should make you alert. You should connect with your doctor soon and more so if you have a habit of smoking.”
Is Lung Cancer Curable?
He is affirmative. “Not only lung cancer but any type of cancer are curable with early diagnosis. The problem with our country is that people don’t act quickly even if they are seeing clear symptoms. Then when they come to the doctor they have already crossed the initial stages. Lung cancer is curable in stage 1, stage 2, and even till stage 3. The wariness is severe with breast cancer. Many patients because of social embarrassment or economical reasons don’t visit the doctor making their condition worse. It is not that we don’t have good detective machines. The problem is people not coming for detection.”
Adding to it, “Overseas, patients regularly do their checkups and consult doctors when they see early signs of a problem. More than 100 countries have cervical cancer vaccination as part of their National Immunization Program. Yet this doesn’t happen in India where the world’s most cervical cancer cases occur.”
Covid and Cancer
He says, “The lung is already weakened with cancer and its heavy treatment. But then if another illness like Covid takes over, it will cause more stress on the lungs. But that doesn't mean that people with lung cancer cannot defeat covid. But make sure you are extra careful if you already have cancer of any type. Wear your mask and sanitize your hands. Most importantly talk to your cancer doctor about your vaccination details. if you could then take your vaccination and if the doctor says otherwise then follow that.”
(Edited by Priyal Shah)
Contributed by: Dr. Salil Patkar, Consultant Medical Oncologist at Apollo Hospitals