The 1st of August is World Lung Cancer Day
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Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Portugal
The most effective preventive measure is to eliminate tobacco consumption
Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate about 5,415,000 new cases of lung cancer in 2020, representing the leading cause of death from cancer in our country. The latest figures show 4,797 deaths in 2020 from lung cancer in Portugal. With regard to World Lung Cancer Day, the Lung Cancer Study Group (GECP) warns of the importance of prevention and early diagnosis of the disease.
“In addition to being the most common cancer in the world, the incidence of lung cancer increases at a rate of 0.5% per year, which means that it is necessary to increase awareness of this type of cancer, halting this projection”, explains the Dr. Teresa Almodôvar, president of the GECP.
Most patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage, as the tumor can develop for a long time without showing symptoms. Despite the innovative treatments that have emerged in recent years to increase survival and improve the quality of life of these patients, “the focus on prevention must be a priority.”
“The incidence is three times higher in men than in women, but with a tendency to increase in women and stabilize in men, reflecting the smoking habits of our society”, explains the expert.
Tobacco is known to be the main risk factor for lung cancer, as 85 of new cases are detected in people who smoke or have smoked. Thus, “it is only with the elimination of smoking that cases of lung cancer can be reduced. To bet on the prevention of lung cancer, we have to start with smoking cessation”, says the pulmonologist. “Even after the diagnosis of lung cancer, quitting smoking makes all the difference”, he adds, “because it will reduce the complaints of coughing, shortness of breath and tiredness, it will improve the nutritional status of the person with lung cancer, it will allow for better tolerance to treatments and also prevent the appearance of other diseases and cancers”.
The expert also explains that, in addition to tobacco, “environmental contamination, molecular changes can also be risk factors for lung cancer.” Not to mention aging, which represents, as in all cancers, a risk factor. In this regard, Dr. Teresa Almodôvar comments that “although the median age of patients with lung cancer is around 70 years, in young adults the pathology is increasing”.
This is the challenge launched by the GECP to all smokers: “seek specialized help to totally eliminate tobacco dependence”, preventing lung cancer, but not only, “improving all health parameters and preventing the onset of multiple chronic diseases and acute”.
About Lung Cancer:
Lung cancer is the most common cancer in the world. Its incidence increases at a rate of 0.5% per year. It occurs due to the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells found in the lung, giving rise to malignant tumors.
In Portugal, around 5,000 new cases of lung cancer were diagnosed in 2020, representing the third most frequent neoplasm. It is, however, the leading cause of death from cancer in the country, estimated to have caused 4,787 deaths in 2020.
The Lung Cancer Study Group emerged in 2000 as a result of a broad need to join efforts in promoting knowledge in Thoracic Oncology. It brings together health professionals from various fields, dedicated to the study and treatment of lung cancer, maintaining close links with other groups and scientific societies, universities and civil society organizations.