Do you know Lung Cancer is one of the most common cancers seen in males? 18.2% of total cancer deaths have been due to lung cancer so the speculation is that in developing countries there is going to be an epidemic of Lung Cancer.
In this dismal scenario, Dr R.RANGA RAO explains us about the advancements made in preventive as well as therapeutic strategies, which might bring some ray of hope for patients.
Preventive Strategies in Lung Cancer: Initiatives like an increase in warning pictures on cigarette packaging and launch of mobile support to quit tobacco are important initiatives that are taken by the health ministry. A CT scan was done as a screening programme for smokers that showed that the people had the probability of getting lung cancer.
Therapeutic Strategies in Lung Cancer: The core advancement in understanding the cancer genome is by obtaining the cancer tissue through biopsy or by drawing patient’s blood and analysing the cancer cells (liquid biopsy). Better understanding regarding the genetic changes in cancer cells has led to the development and introduction of medicines known as “Targeted Therapy”- this therapy causes disruption in the process of carcinogenesis i.e. conversion of a normal cell to the cancer cell. Few advantages of this therapy are:
- Ability to act more specifically on cancer cells to lower the risk of damage to normal cells.
- Prevents the growth and spread of cancer cells
Few examples of Targeted Therapy are: Enzyme Inhibitors, Apoptosis inducing agents (Causes Cancer cells to die due to change in protein if cancer cells), Angiogenesis Inhibitors (Inhibits the process of formation of new blood vessels in the tumor and stops the blood supply to the tumor, thereby resulting in the death of cancer cells).
NOTE: Many of these agents are taken as a pill so that the patient can continue with their normal lifestyle. These have lesser side effects as compared to chemotherapy and therefore the quality of life is better.
Another ray of hope is “IMMUNOTHERAPY”, which reactivates the patient’s own immune system so that the advanced stage lung cancers can be treated effectively.
Radiation and Surgery are the other two non-pharmacological treatment options for lung cancer. However, the choice of treatment is based on the stage of cancer and the patient’s overall health status. With the availability of options like radiotherapy, surgery, targeted therapy and Immunotherapy, many patients can now be treated without chemotherapy.