Published on 8/16/2021 06:00
(Credit: Jose Luis Magana/AFP)
White August symbolizes the fight against lung cancer, the world’s deadliest since 1985. According to data from the National Cancer Institute (Inca), an agency affiliated with the Ministry of Health, lung cancer is the second most common lung cancer among men and women in Brazil and the first in the world In terms of injuries and deaths. About 13% of all new cancer cases in the country are lung cancer. At the end of the last century, the disease became one of the leading causes of preventable deaths.
In 2019, the incidence of respiratory tumors appeared first, in Brazil, in the number of deaths among men (16733). Among women, it comes second, with 12,621 deaths, according to Inca data. Other tumors with a high mortality rate affect the prostate, breast, and colon and rectum.
Lung cancer corresponds to a group of different diseases characterized by the abnormal growth of cells in the lung with the ability to spread to other organs, what we call metastases. Different types of lung cancer have very different behaviors and treatments. Unfortunately, the first symptoms of the disease appear when it reaches more advanced stages. The most common are cough, bloody sputum, progressive shortness of breath and weight loss,” explains Fernando Vidigal, clinical oncologist and coordinator of the Oncology Center at Hospital de Brasilia.
Smoking is the main factor associated with lung cancer and covers 85% of diagnosed cases. But there are other causes of the disease. Environmental exposure is also linked to lung cancer. There is some land in Brazil that is rich in radon, which is risk factors for lung cancer. Pollution and secondhand smoke in and of themselves can cause disease,” says Felipe Marques, head of the Copan pulmonology team at Beneficência Portuguesa in São Paulo.
About the treatment of the disease, the specialist explains that it is carried out in stages, and in the case of patients with an early diagnosis, the best available is a pneumonectomy. “With the disease spreading within the chest, we have a form called locally advanced, in which we can try to do a surgical resection. The second option is to carry out chemotherapy with radiotherapy, followed by preventive immunotherapy,” he says.
When the condition is more severe and the cancer isn’t confined to the patient’s chest, treatment is often done with chemotherapy or chemotherapy along with immunotherapy, or just immunotherapy, according to the specialist.
Retired Cecilia Monteiro, 81, discovered lung cancer in 2016, while undergoing routine medical exams in Brasilia. “They recognized a lump in the lung, but I didn’t feel anything. Suddenly, this lump started growing, until the doctors found out it was a malignancy,” he says. She says she never smoked a cigarette. “But I lived with my husband, who smoked for a while,” he says. 50 years.” In addition, Cecilia Montero says that she was cured of cancer thanks to the diagnosis, which is still in the first stage of the disease, and according to her, the recovery was very fast without the need for surgery.
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