World Lung Cancer Day 2022: A lung screening can help understand the health of our lungs
Lung cancer is the most diagnosed cancer, worldwide. Lung cancer occurs when cells multiply abnormally in the lungs and form a malignant tumor. In India, lung cancer accounts for 5.9% of all cancers and 8.1% of all cancer-related deaths. In 2020, there were more than 2.2 million new cancer cases worldwide, while in India, approximately 81,200 new cases were diagnosed with lung cancer.
Along with previous lung disease or smoking tobacco, lung cancer can also be linked to environmental factors, such as exposure to radon, air pollution, and asbestos. The prevalence of this disease in non-smokers is a growing concern for everybody now.
According to an ICMR research report, lung cancer cases are likely to rise seven-fold by 2025 compared to a decade ago due to a lack of population-level screening tools. Lung cancer treatment is most effective when it is detected early. Screening means testing an individual for disease despite having no symptoms of the disease. In order to maximize the effectiveness of therapy, doctors recommend getting a screening test in the early stages of the disease.
For lung cancer, a low-dose computed tomography, also known as LDCT (low-dose CT) is the recommended lung cancer screening test. Screening with a CT scan is the only test that has been proven to reduce mortality from lung cancer in high-risk populations, like smokers and second-hand smokers.
Who should consider screening?
Lung cancer screening is usually recommended for people with greater risk, like:
1. People who smoke heavily on a daily basis
One must consider lung cancer screening if they are a heavy smoker. Pack years are calculated by multiplying the number of packs of cigarettes smoked a day and the number of years that you smoked.
2. People who once smoked heavily but quit
If a person was a heavy smoker for a long time and quit smoking in the last 15 years, then they may consider lung cancer screening.
3. People with a family history of cancer
If a close relative has been treated for lung cancer or any other type of cancer, you must consider screening.
4. People with other risk factors for lung cancer
Lung cancer is also more likely to occur in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or in those who have been exposed to radon gas.
Why should screening be done?
1. Detecting the tumour while it is still small increases the chances of survival, and early screening helps remove the tumour through surgery or radiation therapy. By detecting the tumour early, it is also possible to identify the tumour before it spreads to other parts of the body and to prevent the tumour from causing other medical conditions that require complicated treatment.
2. When a person develops lung cancer, the signs and symptoms may not show in the early stage, therefore, during the screening, the goal is to detect lung cancer at its earliest possible stage, when it's more likely to be cured. It can reduce the risk of dying due to lung cancer.
3. According to The International Early Lung Cancer Action Program (I-ELCAP), a CT screening each year can detect at least 80% of lung cancers in Stage I, with a cure rate of 80 to 90%.
Early detection of lung cancer can increase the chance of survival, though the disease can be fatal. Therefore, it is recommended to visit a medical expert for the early detection of lung cancer.
Content by: Dr. Chanchal Goswami, Consultant Oncologist, AMRI Hospital, Kolkata
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