By Dr. Prakash Upreti
- Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and accounts for 2,679 deaths in 2017 in Nepal1. Deaths due to lung cancer are more than that of colon, prostate, ovarian and breast cancers combined2.
- Smoking is the major cause of lung cancers (80-90%) 2, even in those exposed to second-hand smoking. Other risk factors include exposure to radon gas, exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens and family history of lung cancer.3
- Symptoms of lung cancer may include a new cough that won’t go away, blood in cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, unintentional weight loss, headache, bone pain.
- There are mainly two types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Treatment is based on the type of cancer, location, spread and general health condition of the patient. The major treatment options are surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
- Screening is recommended for people at high risk of getting lung cancer (annual low dose CT scan for people between 55 and 74 years old, who have smoked for 30 years or more, and either continuing to smoke or having quit within the past 15 years.)4
Quitting smoking significantly reduces the chance of having lung cancer. Even after the cancer is diagnosed, it helps in early recovery from treatment.