Embassy News
 Arts & Living
 Travel & Hotel
 Medical Tourism New
 Letters to Editor
 Photo Gallery
 News Media Link
 TV Schedule Link
 News English
 Hospitals & Clinics
 Flea Market
 Moving & Packaging
 Religious Service
 Korean Classes
 Korean Weather
 Real Estate
 Home Stay
 Room Mate
 English Teaching
 Job Offered/Wanted
 Hotel Lounge
 Foreign Exchanges
 Korean Stock
 Business Center
 PR & Ads
 Arts & Performances
 Restaurants & Bars
 Tour & Travel
 Shopping Guide
 Foreign Missions
 Community Groups
 Foreign Workers
 Useful Services
 ST Banner Exchange
  Medical Tourism
Lung Cancer: Difficult to Diagnose, Difficult to Treat, Easy to Prevent
Special Contribution
By Shobha Shukla
Lung Cancer: Difficult to Diagnose, Difficult to Treat, Easy to Prevent

Just a few days before World Cancer Day this year, an acquaintance of mine succumbed to this dreaded disease within 10 months of diagnosis, and became part of the world statistics of someone dying somewhere of lung cancer every 30 seconds. Of all known cancers, lung cancer has highest annual mortality (1.6 million) as well as incidence (1.8 million) globally, and is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 cancer related deaths.

I met Ismail (name changed) at King George's Medical University (KGMU) Lucknow, where he had come for his 1st cycle of chemotherapy. An avid smoker since the age of 18, Ismail looked emaciated and much older than his 42 years. In January 2014, he felt severe pain in his limbs and bones which later spread to the chest. He was diagnosed with TB and completed the 6 months’ treatment regimen from the DOTS centre in his hometown. But when his condition did not improve, he was referred to KGMU, where he was diagnosed with stage 3B of lung cancer in November 2014.

“This delay in diagnosis is often the bane of lung cancer patients and costs them dearly”, says Dr Surya Kant, Head of the Pulmonary Medicine Department at KGMU, and Vice-President of Indian Chest Society. “Diagnosis of lung cancer is very difficult and often delayed as its symptoms closely mimic those of TB. In our country two third cases of lung cancer are misdiagnosed as TB at the first go. So by the time patients come to our hospital, they have already wasted at least 6 months on unnecessary TB treatment, during which time the cancer advances from its operable to non-operable stage. If Ismail had been diagnosed 6 months earlier in the operable stage of his cancer, he had better survival chances. But in our country only 10% patients are diagnosed in the operable 1st and 2nd stages of lung cancer. Timely surgery results in 5 years survival in 50% of the patients.”

“Then again, at times treatment is also delayed due to several myths prevalent in our society—like biopsy will make the tumour spread, or that chemotherapy is very toxic and it is better to die than undergo it, or some faith/fake healer promises to heal cancer without surgery and chemotherapy”, added Dr Surya Kant. Dr Kant was conferred upon the prestigious Dr Lachman Cancer Awareness and Research Award recently at 79th Annual Conference of Indian Medical Association (IMA). He is also a distinguished recipient of Hukum Chandra Jain Cancer Awareness Award.

According to 63 years old Rakesh (name changed), who is suffering from stage 3B of lung cancer, the name alone of this dreaded disease is enough to kill a patient. Rakesh suffered from breathlessness and chest pain in 2005. He was diagnosed with pleurisy as well as diabetes and put on treatment. Then, one day in March 2014, he suddenly lost his voice. “I showed myself to a local ENT specialist and was put on a heavy dose of antibiotics. The doctor said that I needed to be operated upon as it was an incurable disease and I was referred to this Medical College. I have never smoked but was addicted to chewing tobacco/paan since past 30 years.”

Rakesh was in the hospital for his 8th chemotherapy cycle with one more to go. (Dr Surya Kant informed that usually patients are administered 6 cycles of chemotherapy— which could extend to 9— at intervals of 3 weeks). Rakesh was happy that he had at least got his voice back and was also able to walk by himself. But how long he would survive is anybody’s guess.

Dr Surya Kant explained that are 3 parameters on which to rate the cancer—tumour size (T), formation of lymph nodes (N), and metastatis (M)—the TNM classification. Once node formation and/or metastatis (spread of cancer to other parts) occurs, the tumour becomes inoperable and life expectancy is drastically reduced. If size of the tumour is 7cm or more it becomes inoperable. But even very small tumours of 2 cm may become inoperable if metastatic. The time in which the tumour gets doubled in volume is called doubling time and it could range from 1 to 6 months.

In India there were an estimated 71000 cases (54000 in males and 17000 in females) and 64,000 deaths (49000 in males and 15000 in females) of lung cancer in 2012, thereby suggesting a slightly better survival rate in females. However Dr Surya Kant, who recently got the ‘Cancer Awareness Award’ for a second time from the UP Chapter of India Medical Association, feels that the actual figures would be much higher.

“Till about 5 years ago we would have around 150 lung cancer patients per year in our hospital. Today we are diagnosing >500 cases per year. Of course this is not a matter of pride but the sign of times we are living in. Till 5 years ago ratio of male: female patient was 90:10, but now it is 70-30 in my hospital. More females are now getting diagnosed with lung cancer perhaps due to increase in health awareness. Another surprising fact is that in my hospital survival rate in females is more than in males and there are female patients who have had >7 years survival rate even when diagnosed in stages 3 and 4.”

“Lung cancer is the worst type of cancer with the highest mortality rate. Only one third of the diagnosed patients would survive beyond 1 year, and the best-case scenario gives only a 5 years lease of life and that too in 10%-12% patients only. And yet around 80% cases of lung cancer are preventable as they are related to smoking cigarettes and bidis (usually in males) or use of bio mass fuel (usually in females). A vast majority of rural Indian women still use this dangerous form of cooking, which is also an important risk factor for lung cancer.”

“The rest 20% patients get this dreaded form of cancer as a result of second hand smoke or through occupational hazards at work place like working in asbestos related industry, brick kilns, colour industry, glass industry. I have also come across a non-asbestos related malignant mesothelioma case—he was a farmer using chemical pesticides—which perhaps caused the lung cancer”, he shared.

Many studies corroborate that smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. In one report from India, roughly two-thirds of all patients with lung cancer were smokers, using either cigarettes and/or bidis (hand-rolled tobacco). Another study in China revealed that lung cancer risk was two to four times higher among smokers as compared to non- smokers.

In the United States, cigarette smoking is linked to about 90% of lung cancers. A study conducted by the University of Hong Kong found that smoking increased the lung cancer risk for the elderly by a whopping 421% when compared with non-smokers. A large number of lung cancer deaths could be prevented by avoiding key risk factors, including tobacco smoke, urban air pollution and indoor smoke from household use of solid fuels. The take home message would be, as so aptly said by Dr Surya Kant—stay away from tobacco and stay safe from cancer.

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service — CNS (The author is the Managing Editor of Citizen News Service — CNS. She is a J2J Fellow of National Press Foundation (NPF) USA and received her editing training in Singapore. She has earlier worked with State Planning Institute, UP and taught physics at India's prestigious Loreto Convent. She also co-authored and edited publications on gender justice, childhood TB, childhood pneumonia, Hepatitis C Virus and HIV, and MDR-TB. Email:, website:

Related Articles
    Will Shorter, Safer and More Effective TB ...
    Whither Women's Reproductive Health in Asia ...
    Build the World We Want: Healthy Future for All
    New TB Treatment Breakthroughs Must Reach the ...
    How Will Children Living with HIV Grow Up ...
    Writing Is on the Wall: Pictorial Health ...
    Failing on the Basics: Are We Able to Break ...
    A Bouquet of Novel Compounds: New Treatment ...
    One Size Does Not Fit All: Expanding the ...
    Tale of Two Pandemics: Follow the Science and ...
    Governments Must Adopt a Strong Political ...
    What Is the Ring?
    Disability Is Not Limited to the Body, It Is ...
    Accelerating Progress on Sexual & Reproductive ...
    Stop This Shaming of Menstruation
    Complacency Breeds Failure: Consolidate ...
    For Age Is Opportunity No Less Than Youth ...
    New Study Pegs the Number of TB Cases in India ...
    Self-stigma: Let Us Do More Than Just "Ttalk ...
    We Cannot Eliminate TB If We Leave Children ...
    MDR-TB Treatment Rgimen: Short Indeed Is ...
    A Plain Face Can Take the Sheen Out of Deadly ...
    Strike at the Root of the Problem to Kill TB
    Antibiotic Use Is Driving Antibiotic Resistance
    Big Push for Transgender and Hijra Welfare
    Where There Is a Will There Is a Way: Teeja ...
    Long Road to Justice: Human Rights of Female ...
    Medical Malpractices: Is There Light at the ...
    Overcoming Roadblocks in Translating ...
    Management of Respiratory Diseases beyond ...
    Gender Justice to Be at the Heart of ...
    Connecting the Dots: Tobacco Use, Diabetes, ...
    It Is Time To Control Asthma
    Call for No More New HIV Infected Children
    Smoking Goes Electronic
    Break the Silence around Cancer
    How Can You Treat Your Illness Unless You Take ...
    Asthma Medicines Still Unaffordable for Many
    New Technique to Prevent Diabetic Lower-Limb ...
    Cycle Beads: The Bead String for Family ...
    Beware: All Forms of Tobacco Are Harmful!
    Mother's Milk Is the Best Nutrition for the ...
    Where Is The TB Quilt, Nay Mask?
    Hello, This Is Nature’s Call From Garbage ...
    Tuberculosis: Ugly Scar on Beautiful Childhood
    Towards A More Enabling Environment for ...
    What’s Cooking in Kitchen: Peace or Conflict?
    Feed Your Child Well: Prevent Pneumonia
    Costly Medicines Mean Debt or Death for People ...
    AIDS Epidemic at a Critical Juncture in ...
    Watch Your Tongue Mr. Minister!
    Free Trade Agreements: A Threat To People's ...
    In The Pursuit Of Healthy Happiness
    Empowering Rural Women
    Say Yes To Life: Say No To Tobacco
    Homophobia Is A Human Rights Issue
    Viva La Woman Power
    Rubbish Rubbish Food and Embrace Healthy ...
    Of Music and Divinity
    Wake Up Call on Childhood Obesity after Years ...
    A New Hope of Life for Our Ailing Education ...
    Reminiscences of Egypt
    Do Not Break the Nucleus
    Whispers of Sanity in the Frenzy of Madness
    Tobacco Cessation Can Piggy-back Ride on ...
    In The Spirit Of Freedom (from Tobacco)
    World Conference on Tobacco or Health to ...
    Requiem for Purity
    Rhapsody 2008 -- a Symphony of Different ...
    'Diabetes Doctor Is at Your Doorstep' in ...
    Activists Decry India's Deferment of Pictorial ...
    South-East Asian Diabetes Summit to Open Up in ...
    Special on Universal Children's Day
    The Wrath Of God
    World Food Scarcity and the Challenges of ...
    Victim of Terrorism -- the Common Man
    Teachers' Day: The Sacrificial Goat
    Hiroshima Day: Let Us Worship Peace and Shun ...
    Whither the Innocence of Childhood?
    Food for Thought -- on World Food Day
    Love Is the Missing Link in War-on-Terror
    Irom Sharmila: The Iron Lady
    India Poised And Shining
    Is It Just Another Day in Life of Indian Woman?
    He Has His Cake and Eats It Too
    To Be Young, to Be Married, and to Be in India
    The Mad Mad World of Ads

Other Articles by Shobha Shukla
    Will Shorter, Safer and More Effective TB ...
    How Will Children Living with HIV Grow Up ...
    Writing Is on the Wall: Pictorial Health ...
    Failing on the Basics: Are We Able to Break ...
    What Is the Ring?

Ms. Shobha Shukla has been teaching Physics at India's noted Loreto Convent, and has written for The Hindustan Times and Women's Era in the past. She serves as Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS). She can be contacted at






The Seoul Times, Shinheung-ro 36ga-gil 24-4, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea 04337 (ZC)
Office: 82-10-6606-6188
Copyrights 2000 The Seoul Times Company  ST Banner Exchange