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Family & Relationships What the experts want you to know about lung cancer

11:47  30 november  2017
11:47  30 november  2017 Source:   netdoctor.co.uk

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Because of the stigma surrounding lung cancer there are a lot of misconceptions about the condition. This Lung Cancer Awareness Month Dr Tom Newsom-Davis, Consultant Medical Oncologist, and Mr Eric Lim, Consultant Thoracic Surgeon, both from HCA Healthcare UK, set the record straight about the disease.

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1. It's not just a smokers' disease

It's widely understood that lifestyle choices can affect or increase the chances of developing cancer, for example eating certain foods, lack of exercise, drinking alcohol, and smoking. Lung cancer in particular has, for many years, been associated with smoking, and people diagnosed with the condition are often seen to have 'brought it upon themselves'.

While there is strong evidence that smokers and ex-smokers have an increased risk of getting lung cancer, it is not the only cause. Every year, one out of every seven people diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked.

EL: "We identified that the frequency of non-smoking lung cancer has doubled in the last seven years. As a surgeon, a third of my work is now on non-smokers, and I can only see this number rising."

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Daniel Cohen's wife Katie – a fit, healthy 32-year-old who had never smoked - was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 2015. Talking about her experience, he comments: "When she told people about her diagnosis, one of the first questions she was always asked was 'Did you smoke?' Or loosely translated, 'was it your fault?' It's the shame and guilt that people make you feel when you have no reason to. There's still a huge stigma attached to the disease and this needs to change. There needs to be more education about it."

TND: "For such a long time there was so much embarrassment and prejudice surrounding lung cancer – and this stopped people getting their symptoms checked. Treatment is most effective when lung cancer is detected early so it is really important to visit a GP or doctor as soon as possible if you think you might have any symptoms of lung cancer.

2. Get it diagnosed quickly

EL: "As with most cancers, the quicker you can confirm a diagnosis the better, as it opens up more treatment options, including the possibility of surgery. Currently, approximately 20 per cent of patients are diagnosed with early stage disease and are able to have surgery, while 80 per cent are identified too late. We need to increase the number of people who are able to have the surgery.

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The Truth About Lung Cancer : What Everyone Should Know . Share. Flip. What are some of these misunderstandings and lesser known facts about lung cancer that we wish everyone knew ? 1. Progress is Being Made.

A single cigarette contains 69 known cancer -causing carcinogens and over 4,000 chemicals. Someone dies from lung cancer every 30 seconds around the In any case, I simply did not want this to be misunderstood, as I am a geneticist and many consider me to be an ‘ expert ’ regarding this sort of thing.

"There have been a lot of improvements and changes in lung cancer treatments over the past few years. As a surgeon, one of the most important advances for patients that I treat has been key-hole surgery. This type of surgery now enables us to operate using just a single 3cm cut in the chest, which some studies shown to be less painful with and helps patients to recover quicker. Many of my patients who have this type of surgery can be out of hospital within just two days.

"I'm currently undertaking a NIHR funded UK multicentre trial to evaluate the benefits of keyhole surgery versus open surgery and early findings have indicated that it is a procedure of interest to both patients and clinicians alike."

LUNG CANCER SYMPTOMS

3. Treatments are improving

TND: "Over the past five years treatments for lung cancer have advanced radically, and they are now improving outcomes for patients across the UK. For example, there is targeted radiotherapy, which can pick out individual areas of the cancer and target them more accurately than could be done previously.

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But lung cancer doctors say there are many promising new therapies today that are revolutionizing how they attack lung cancer and help save lives. Here's what they want you to know , whether you ’re living with lung cancer yourself or have a loved one with the disease.

Since the 1950s experts have known about the link between smoking and lung cancer , but for decades, there was no reliable and safe way to screen those who were at highest risk of developing the disease.

"Other developments have allowed us to identify specific mistakes in the DNA of the cancer cell, called mutations, which have caused the tumour. Sometimes we can even detect these mutations from a simple blood test. We now have a number of drugs that target these mutations and which are usually more effective than traditional treatments such as chemotherapy.

  What the experts want you to know about lung cancer © Provided by National magazine company ltd (Hearst UK) "There has also been a huge step forward in immunotherapy. This uses a person's own immune system to attack the cancer and can be very effective for those with advanced stages of disease. At HCA UK we have been treating suitable patients with immunotherapy since it was approved by the FDA in 2015, and are now the biggest private facility offering this treatment.

"While immunotherapy and other targeted drug treatments are not curative, they are very effective for treating lung cancer. Thanks to these improvements in care, there are patients we diagnosed three, four, five years ago with advanced lung cancer who are still here and still doing well. It is time to get over the old, nihilistic, view of lung cancer and instead see this as a treatable disease."

Daniel Cohen adds: "Thanks to these new treatments my wife Katie and I had more time together. The chemotherapy had terrible side effects and eventually stopped working, but immunotherapy drug Nivolumab allowed us to go on holiday together and let her live her life for longer. It's time we wouldn't have had together otherwise and I am grateful for every minute."

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4. More women die of lung cancer than any other

While a lot of attention is often given to breast and ovarian cancers in women, it is not commonly known that 44 women die of lung cancer in the UK every day - more than both cancers combined. In addition, young women are also more likely to die of lung cancer than young men.

EL: "We have seen a growth in women being diagnosed with lung cancer, and it has now overtaken breast cancer as the biggest killer for women. It's difficult to say why this is, however we don't think this is due to environmental factors as it would affect both men and women. Cooking fumes and aerosols have been considered but more research needs to be done to identify any potential carcinogens women are exposed to, or if there is a differential effect of day-to-day carcinogens in women."

5. Screening is key to early detection of lung cancer

EL: "Early detection by CT screening has been demonstrated to improve lung cancer survival by 20%. The current accepted method is through CT screening, however there's no national screening programme available, and non-smokers will never be screened. Most diagnoses are picked up through incidental scans or once symptoms have become advanced.

"At HCA UK, screening is undertaken using a low-radiation CT scan, which provides more accurate images than a chest x-ray, and can help to identify early signs of the disease. It's recommended that those over 50 who currently smoke or who have a heavy smoking history undertake screening. Additionally it's recommended that people who have worked in a role where they may have had exposure to respiratory carcinogens such as asbestos, or who have a strong family history of lung cancer get screened too."

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McKee also serves on the Lung Association's Lung Cancer Expert Medical Advisory Panel and works with their LUNG FORCE initiative to help raise awareness She knew something wasn’t right—finally, additional X-rays and tests revealed a cancerous tumor had been growing on her right lung .

What a Canadian Oncologist Wants You to Understand About Lung Cancer . What Canadians need to know , and why it was important for her to take on the project. “A common misconception is that there are no treatments for lung cancer .

TND: "The most common, symptoms of lung cancer include cough, chest pain, persistent chest infections and coughing up blood. As with other cancers we should also look out for unexplained weight loss, fatigue and loss of appetite. If you have any concerns about any of these symptoms visit your GP as soon as possible."

Daniel comments: "Early screening is so important. The journey from our first GP visit with a persistent cough to diagnosis took five months, and by that stage the lung cancer was advanced. This is a huge discrepancy. We were luckier than most as we were given more time by the immunotherapy treatment but this won't be the case for everyone."

What's next?

Jane Lynch, Cancer Lead Nurse says: "Lung cancer is a challenging disease to manage as it is often diagnosed at a later stage when curative treatment is not an option. However, with a skilled holistic nursing support team and expert medical intervention we are helping people with this cancer live longer, and with an improved quality of life."

For more information about HCA Healthcare UK and its services visit the website.

Related: The 17 Most Ignored Cancer Symptoms in Women and Men (provided by Woman's Day)

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