Lung cancer – deadly and yet preventable
Since the last decade, the number of lung cancer patients has been rapidly increasing in Nepal. The statistical report released by B.P Koirala memorial cancer hospital (BPKMCH), Bharatpur, Nepal clearly depicts this grim scenario.
According to this report, a total of 26,108 males and 29,905 females were diagnosed with cancer during the decade of 2003-2012. Out of these, 2042 (7.8%) of the male cancer patients and 3123 (10.4%) of the female patients were diagnosed with lung cancer. Dr Kishor Kumar Pradhananga, Head of cancer prevention, control and research department of BPKMCH says, “Lung cancer is the most common cancer among males whereas for females, it is the third most common. Every year, the number of lung cancer patients has been mounting. This is horrible.”
According to Pradhananga, tobacco, alcoholism and over consumption of fried food are the major causes of lung cancer. But the main catalyst is smoking which accounts for more than 90% of lung cancer cases in Nepal. Pradhan suggests everyone to be health conscious, go for regular medical check ups, and make health-oriented food and life style changes.
BP Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital-Bharatpur, Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital, Bir Hospital-Kathmandu, BP Koirala Health Science Academy-Dharan, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital-Kathmandu, Manipal Hospital-Pokhara and Kanti Hospital-Kathmandu are the hospitals in Nepal that offer treatment facilities to the cancer patients.
As per the latest global data, lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer accounting for 13% of all cancer cases. In 2012, there were 1.8 million cases and 1.6 million (19.4% of total cancer deaths) deaths of lung cancer globally. Smoking is by far the leading cause of the disease and about 70% of the world’s lung cancer burden can be attributed to smoking alone. In addition, second-hand smoke has been proven to cause lung cancer in nonsmoking adults.
Treatment of cancer in low and middle income countries is both a burden on the health care systems and the affected family feels Dr Ehsan Latif, Director, Department of Tobacco Control at the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (the Union). According to him, “Governments need to not only pass policies and legislations for effective tobacco control but also make sure these are properly implemented. On one hand the governments struggle to fully fund healthcare systems and on the other hand continue to neglect the under taxed tobacco products. They should actively look at tobacco taxes as a resource to fund health care and invest in health promotion activities to apprise the people of the dangers of tobacco use.”
WHO established the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003 in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic. It is an evidence-based treaty that assures the right of all people to the highest standard of health, and outlines policies that work toward progress in tobacco control across the world.
The world’s largest gathering of tobacco control advocates, policy makers, researchers, public health and clinical experts will take place in Abu Dhabi during 17-21 March 2015 to discuss these and other health trends at the 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health. Lung cancer will be a key issue at the conference, especially since this year’s theme is “Tobacco and Non-Communicable Diseases.”