By Dr Niti Raizada Senior Consultant, Medical Oncologist and Hemato-Oncologist, Vikram Hospital, Bengaluru
Bengaluru, July 31,2020 : Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer across the world (11.6% of the total cases) across both males and females, and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths (18.4% of the total cancer deaths). Its incidence and mortality is rapidly growing worldwide. The reasons are complex but reflect both aging and growth of the population.
Small cell lung cancer occurs in 20% of all lung cancer cases. Its treatment is focussed on chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy. For non-small-cell lung cancer, which is the most common type of lung cancer, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and oral biologic therapies are given.
The Covid-19 pandemic is one of the greatest challenges that modern medicine has ever faced. Amongst all the panic generated by Covid, one should not lose sight of the fact that lung cancer is a deadly disease and its treatment cannot wait despite the pandemic because of the aggressive nature of the disease.
Lung cancer patients are not more susceptible to the Covid virus compared to other people. However, if they get infected, they are more likely to get complications because of their underlying health condition.
To avoid the risk of Covid infection, lung cancer patients and their families should strictly follow all measures advised for the general public. Social distancing, hygiene and face masks are universal precautions that should be taken by them.
The treatment of lung cancer has seen pathbreaking research in the past decade, with several new molecularly targeted therapies and immunotherapy now available. Molecular targeted therapies which are based on newer diagnostic modalities like NGS (next generation sequencing) are increasingly used in lung cancer now. These are much safer and do not require frequent medical monitoring. In the last few months, the US FDA has approved several new oral targeted drugs for lung cancer. In India, these may also be available soon.
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