Bengaluru: Despite increased awareness about the health hazards posed by smoking and consumption of tobacco products, including cancer and infertility, many people continue to get hooked on to it.
On World No Tobacco Day this year on May 31, the theme is “Tobacco and Lung Health”. Health experts aim to raise awareness about the health hazards, especially lung cancer, which doctors warn can strike at young age and that too without any symptoms.
Use of tobacco leads to 30 percent of all cancers, with lung cancer being most common. Lung cancer causes 42 percent deaths among men and 18.3 percent deaths among women, according to Indian Council of Medical Research.
In a recent case, a 31-year-old smoker approached Sakra World Hospital with five days of dry cough. He was initially given a course of antibiotics and cough syrup for the next few days.
However, the cough persisted and a subsequent chest x-ray showed a large lung mass. After the CT scan and biopsy results, it was confirmed that he had high-grade cancer and advanced last stage cancer. It came as a rude shock to the patient as he had not experienced any major symptoms.
“Nearly 80 percent of lung cancer typically present late in stage 3 or 4, as there are often no warning symptoms. Hence, those who smoke are always at a higher risk of developing cancers and sometimes the first presentation is itself a lung cancer. Recently, we are seeing many young people also being presented with lung cancer, which is increasing at an alarming rate,” said Dr Sachin Kumar, Senior Consultant and Head, Department of Pulmonology, Sakra World Hospital.
Dr Vivek Belathur, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Fortis Hospital Bannerghatta Road said they were also witnessing an increase in the incidences of lung cancer among people below 40 years of age and also among women. “It may take an epidemic proportion if pollution is not controlled,” he warned.
Regarding high prevalence of lung cancer in India, Dr Rajshekhar C. Jaka, Surgical Oncologist, B.R. Life SSNMC Hospital said that lung cancer spreads very fast and it is difficult to detect the symptoms.
“When upper lung tumors compress nerves and arteries, the patient can present with pain or weakness in the arm or change in voice. When it involves covering of the lung (pleura), they present with chest pain. It is important for people to take necessary steps when they get these symptoms as it could lead to severe health issues. Lung cancer in India is high-mortality cancer due to late stage diagnosis. This has resulted in treating and curing only 15 percent of cases of lung cancer at the time of diagnosis,” he said.