No definitive link between Covid-19, lung cancer: Doctors

No definitive link between Covid-19, lung cancer: Doctors
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No definitive link between Covid-19, lung cancer: Doctors

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Despite reports of Covid-19 patients discovering tumours in lungs while getting scanned, doctors maintain that there is no definite link between Covid-19 and lung cancer

Bengaluru: Despite reports of Covid-19 patients discovering tumours in lungs while getting scanned, doctors maintain that there is no definite link between Covid-19 and lung cancer. They add that it is just a coincidental observation and requires further study on the subject.

On Friday, reports began emerging that several doctors from multiple hospitals claimed to have observed that some people were found to have tumours in their lungs post recovery. First-stage cancer was detected in some patients when they were sent for CT scans to detect the severity of Covid infection.

Hans India spoke to some doctors who corroborated this story. Dr Hirenappa Udnur, Consultant- Pulmonologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Hebbal, reported that he had seen two-three such cases. One patient was treated for Covid-19 and during scans was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. Another patient developed lung cancer three months after recovering from Covid-19 after the patient had a persistent cough.

But most doctors said they haven't seen any cases as of yet. "People with symptoms like coughing up blood and respiratory illnesses need to get evaluated. They could have developed Covid-19 or some other lung problem. Due to sedentary lifestyle nowadays, people are not exercising enough to recognise they might have issues," said Dr Shashikiran N J, Consultant Minimal Access Surgery (Thoracic, Gastro-intestinal and General surgery), Ace Suhas Hospital.

Doctors explained that there is no actual link between Covid-19 and lung cancer. "Due to Covid-19 complications, less than five percent of patients can develop fibrosis. This fibrosis can turn into cancer in future," added Dr Hirenappa Udnur.

But this progression of fibrosis also is not necessarily linked to Covid-19. It can happen due to several reasons other than Covid-19. Patients with comorbidities and other risk factors like smoking and chewing tobacco are at high risk. Doctors advise patients who have recovered from Covid-19 to quit smoking as the combination of fibrosis along with smoking can be dangerous.

Adding another cause for rise in cancer, Dr S K M Pampanagouda, Consultant - Surgical Oncology, Fortis Hospitals, Cunningham Road, Bengaluru said that "Due to pandemic, people are reluctant to get evaluated and it is leading to the discovery of cancer at advanced stages"

Answering the question of whether all Covid-19 patients should get CT scans or get tested for lung cancer, doctors advise to let the medical professionals take the call on that. Multiple CTs can expose patients to huge amounts of radiation which is not ideal.

But there is more definitive evidence to state that people with lung cancer would contract a severe case of Covid-19. "Patients who have lung cancer or any other malignancy are more predisposed to develop Covid-19" said Dr Suhas.

H S, Consultant Pulmonologist at Columbia Asia Hospital.No definitive link between Covid-19 and lung cancer.

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