“Smoking is unequivocally the primary cause of lung cancer”

Pawan Mudbhari

January 21, 2024


“Smoking is unequivocally the primary cause of lung cancer”

KATHMANDU: Globally, lung cancer stands as the foremost cause of mortality.

In Nepal, it claims the top spot among cancers affecting men and ranks as the third most prevalent cancer among women, following cervical and breast cancer.

Smoking emerges as the primary culprit behind lung cancer, prompting medical professionals to advocate for an extensive ban on smoking in Nepal.

Doctors underscore the importance of proactive prevention measures, emphasizing that the treatment for lung cancer is prohibitively expensive once the disease takes hold.

Ever wondered about the origins of lung cancer? Curious about its telltale symptoms?

Delving into the nuances of its treatment, Dr. Bibek Acharya, Head of the Cancer Department at Bir Hospital and a Senior Oncologist, sheds light on these crucial aspects in an insightful conversation with Khabarhub.

Let’s delve into the main causes of lung cancer. What stands out as the primary trigger?

The primary cause of lung cancer is unequivocally smoking. When tobacco smoke infiltrates the lungs, the likelihood of developing lung cancer significantly escalates.

Additionally, exposure to the second radiant gas from Earth and pollution contributes to the risk. The emissions of smoke and dust from vehicles further compound this risk.

Can you shed light on the demographics of individuals susceptible to lung cancer?

Certainly. Generally, individuals who smoke are more susceptible, but lung cancer isn’t exclusive to them.

The condition is broadly categorized into three types: non-small cell lung cancer, adenocarcinoma, and small cell lung cancer.

Small cell and non-small cell lung cancers are prevalent among cigarette smokers, while adenocarcinoma is more common in non-smokers, predominantly affecting women.

The exact reason for this occurrence remains uncertain, although it is associated with exposure to radiant gas.

Does residing in urban areas with higher levels of dust and smoke pose an increased risk of lung cancer?

Lung cancer is not solely attributed to smoke and dust, but prolonged exposure to vehicle emissions, including smoke, does heighten the risk of developing lung cancer.

In terms of age groups, which demographic is more prone to this issue?

Lung cancer is predominantly observed in individuals aged 50 and above, with a higher incidence beyond 40 years.

It’s essential to note that lung cancer doesn’t manifest immediately after smoking; rather, it takes time, which is why the risk is higher in older age groups.

There’s a common belief that lung cancer is more prevalent in men than in women. Can you shed light on the reality of this assumption?

Indeed, the data may suggest a higher number of cases in men, partly owing to the male population being relatively larger in Nepal.

However, it’s crucial to clarify that the occurrence of lung cancer is not biased towards any gender; both men and women face an equal risk.

Moving on, how can one detect lung cancer at an early stage?

Detecting lung cancer in its early stages is challenging as it often lacks specific symptoms.

While some individuals may experience a dry cough, patients typically seek medical attention only after the disease has advanced significantly.

Screening becomes essential to identify the condition early on. Long-term cigarette smokers can undergo low-dose CT scans for cancer detection, although this practice is not widespread in Nepal.

Is there a risk of pneumonia in children leading to lung cancer later on?

Contrary to popular belief, pneumonia itself does not pose a risk of lung cancer. However, individuals with lung spots are at a heightened risk.

How much influence does genetics have in the development of lung cancer?

Genetic factors play a role to some extent, affecting approximately 5 percent of individuals in a given population of 500.

If there’s a family history of cancer, it’s advisable for the next generation to avoid smoking, as the risk is heightened by both genetic factors and smoking.

Can you elaborate on the symptoms of lung cancer?

Symptoms vary among patients, and in many cases, they may not manifest until later stages.

Persistent cough, blood in the sputum, breathing difficulties, chest wheezing, changes in voice, and notably, a prolonged dry cough can be indicators.

Therefore, if any of these symptoms are observed, it’s crucial to consider advanced screening methods like CT scans.

How dire is the situation of lung cancer in Nepal?

The situation is indeed critical, with lung cancer topping the list among men and ranking third among women.

The high prevalence of smoking, spanning from school children to the elderly, adds to the gravity of the situation.

If this trend persists, the complexity of lung cancer in Nepal may escalate in the coming years.

What is the mortality rate due to lung cancer?

Unfortunately, many patients seek medical attention only as a last resort, leading to a high mortality rate.

Compared to other cancers, lung cancer patients often succumb to the disease within 1-2 years of treatment initiation.

Could you elaborate on the available treatments for lung cancer and the conditions under which patients can be saved for an extended period if they seek medical help?

The primary treatments for lung cancer include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

If patients present themselves at an early stage, these interventions can be effective to some extent.

However, when patients arrive in advanced stages, the efficacy of treatment diminishes significantly.

Early detection and timely intervention are critical for a more positive prognosis.

Let’s discuss the financial aspect of lung cancer treatment. How expensive is the treatment, considering the various therapies involved, such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy?

Lung cancer treatment is indeed costly, encompassing several expensive therapies like surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Affording these treatments can be challenging for individuals with normal financial conditions.

Hence, it emphasizes the importance of prevention rather than treatment.

In this regard, it’s crucial for the government to implement measures to curtail smoking in Nepal as much as possible.

What steps can individuals take to avoid lung cancer?

Firstly, avoiding smoking is paramount.

Additionally, one should refrain from being in the proximity of smokers and consider incorporating breathing exercises into their routine.

How is the government working to prevent lung cancer?

The government has initiated a program to control tobacco products. However, the effectiveness of this program remains a question.

It’s imperative to recognize that governmental efforts alone are insufficient; individuals must also raise awareness.

For those seeking to quit smoking, nicotine chewing gum is available in some countries, including India.

This gum has shown promise in freeing individuals from tobacco addiction, and its introduction in Nepal could be beneficial.

WHO had allocated funds to Bir Hospital for this purpose, but the resources were quickly depleted.

People express a desire to quit smoking, but they seem to face challenges finding effective methods.

Nicotine chewing gum, in particular, does not require a doctor’s consultation for use.

Additionally, there are other medications to combat tobacco addiction, which do require a doctor’s guidance.

Can you elaborate on the initiatives taken at Bir Hospital to prevent lung cancer?

We have taken several initiatives at Bir Hospital in our efforts to control cancer.

We’ve formulated a mission outlining strategies to combat cancer, which we submitted to the government.

Unfortunately, the progress has been limited. We have a dedicated team of professionals with diverse medical backgrounds, ready to contribute.

It’s crucial for the government to take these initiatives seriously and consider their implementation for the overall well-being of the population.