Know about tobacco's harmful effect on lungs

Know about tobacco

Tobacco smoking is a primary cause for lung cancer, responsible for over two-thirds of lung cancer deaths globally. Second-hand smoke exposure at home...

Tobacco smoking is a primary cause for lung cancer, responsible for over two-thirds of lung cancer deaths globally. Second-hand smoke exposure at home or at the work place also increases risk of lung cancer. Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of lung cancer. After 10 years of quitting smoking, risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker.

According to the WHO, although non-smokers can develop lung cancer too, smoking is the main cause of lung cancer worldwide, responsible for more than 2/3 of lung cancer deaths.

The most effective measure to improve lung health is to reduce tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure. But knowledge among large sections of the general public, and particularly among smokers, on the implications for the health of people's lungs from tobacco smoking and second-hand smoke exposure is low in some countries. Despite strong evidence of the harms of tobacco on lung health, the potential of tobacco control for improving lung health remains underestimated

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers in India. It usually originates in the airway passages of the respiratory tract. It can also begin in other parts of the lung such as the cells in the bronchioles and alveoli. Lung cancer accounts for about 13 per cent of all new cancers in India. Studies suggest, an estimated 63,000 new lung cancer cases are reported annually with a five-year survival rate of 10 per cent.

The most common types of lung cancer are small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Although highly uncommon, both cell types can simultaneously be affected with cancer. Approximately 85-90% of lung cancers are diagnosed as NSCLC. The main risk factor for lung cancer is tobacco smoking.

Symptoms and Signs

  1. Persistent cough
  2. Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing coughing or laughing
  3. Weight loss and loss of appetite
  4. Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum
  5. Shortness of breath
  6. Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that don't go away or keep coming back

Diagnosis of Lung Cancer

To fight lung cancer, it is important to detect it early as it increases the chances for successful treatment and survival. Lung cancer can be detected by screening, diagnostic imaging, biopsies and other tests. They include chest x-ray, CT scan, MRI scan, PET scan, Bone scan and Biopsy.


Treatment options for lung cancer may consist of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of these treatments depending on the stage of the cancer. Recently, Immunotherapy is playing greater role in the management of Lung Cancer.

American Oncology Institute (AQI) provides comprehensive cancer management powered by a multi-disciplinary team, clinical excellence, world class technology as well as international protocols. AOI stands at the forefront of precision cancer care excellence with a track record of successful treatment of lung cancer. (Writer is an MD (AIIMS) and Medical Director of American Oncology Institute, Hyderabad)

By Dr M Babaiah

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