Passive smokers falling prey to cancer on rise

Passive smokers falling prey to cancer on rise
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Highlights

According to the ICMR Cancer Registry, there are 67,000 new lung cancer cases in India every year. Lung cancer has become leading cause of mortality amongst males in Hyderabad and the incidence rate is also growing amongst urban women due to rise in smoking habits.

Hyderabad: According to the ICMR Cancer Registry, there are 67,000 new lung cancer cases in India every year. Lung cancer has become leading cause of mortality amongst males in Hyderabad and the incidence rate is also growing amongst urban women due to rise in smoking habits.

Lung cancer is predominantly known as the disease of the elderly. However, a study in Hyderabad (Clinic pathological profile of lung cancer at a tertiary care center) noted that the 49.1% of 466 lung cancer patients covered by the study are in the age group of of 40-60 years, indicating that rise in smoking and exposure to carcinogens is affecting the younger generation rapidly.

Commenting on the rise of lung cancer cases across both the sexes in Hyderabad, Dr Balasubramaniam K R cautions against misdiagnosis: "The reason for misdiagnosis is often lack of awareness. In a country like India where the incidence rate of TB is very high, lung cancer can be misdiagnosed as TB. Thus, further investigations such as sputum tests, X-rays, and low dose CT scans need to be ensured to eliminate the possibility of misdiagnosis, moving beyond just initial diagnosis and offering the patient the right treatment at the right time."

The study further highlighted the gender distribution with the male to female ratio being 2:1, reflecting the rising trend of lung cancer in women. Unfortunately, according to a study – The burden of cancers and their variations across the states of India – the overall 5-year survival rate of lung cancer is dismal, being approximately 15% in developed countries and 5% in developing countries respectively.

"The goal of lung cancer screening is to detect lung cancer at a very early stage — when it's more likely to be cured. "In Hyderabad alone, 90% of patients received delayed diagnosis. Patients should receive appropriate treatment in stage 1 and 2 when surgery can help," added Dr Balasubramoniam.

Early signs of lung cancer

The symptoms of cancer are varied and depend on the type of cell affected, where it has spread and how big the tumor is. Some types of cancer do not present any symptoms until they are in advanced stages. Thus, cancer screening and risk assessment are vital for cancer prevention and early detection.

A broad spectrum of non-specific cancer symptoms may include: A cough that does not go away or gets worse in three weeks; Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum; Chest pain that often gets worse with deep breathing or coughing; Hoarseness; Loss of appetite and weight; Wheezing and shortness of breath; Fatigue; Weakness; and, Recurrent bronchitis and pneumonia.

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