Lung Cancer screening on decline due to COVID

Anantapur: Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in many people missing their regular consultations of doctors and this has led to a substantial decline in cancer screening. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths and accounts for 25 per cent of such deaths.

Though lung cancer is commonly detected in elderly people, more than a quarter of lung cancer occurs among those aged below 60 years. The lifetime chance of getting lung cancer is about 1 in 15 in men while the risk is about 1 in 17 in women, a study has revealed.

Hence, people must be aware of risk factors, symptoms, and early detection of lung cancer, said Dr. Kona Muralidhara Reddy, consultant Interventional Pulmonologist from KIMS Saveera hospital here. He said smoking is the most important cause of lung cancer, accounting for 80% of such cases. People who smoke are 15-30 times more likely to be diagnosed or die from lung cancer. Second-hand smoke, air pollution, and diesel exhaust can also cause lung cancer.

Long-standing cough, coughing up blood, one-sided chest pain that increases with deep breathing, shortness of breath, hoarseness of voice, and repeated lung infections are the most common symptoms of lung cancer.

If diagnosed at an early stage and before it spreads to other organs, it is more likely to be successfully treated. Unfortunately, only 16% of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage. In these cases, survival rates are 70-90% while it is 12% in advanced stage lung cancers. So, the key to successful treatment is screening and early detection of lung cancer, the pulmonologist opined.

A low dose CT scan of the lungs can help find abnormal areas in the lungs. Diagnostic procedures like bronchoscopy, fluid aspiration, biopsy, thoracoscopy are also useful in diagnosing lung cancer.

“No matter what your age or how long you’ve smoked, quitting may lower your risk of lung cancer and help you live longer. A healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables will help reduce the risk”, he observed.

As Covid cases are declining in the country, smokers and people with long-standing respiratory symptoms should consult pulmonologists on a priority basis, Dr Reddy said.


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