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Let’s learn about the truths and misunderstandings about lung cancer.

Professor Chae Kang-hee, Department of Respiratory Medicine, Ulsan University Hospital

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Professor Chae Kang-hee of the Department of Respiratory Medicine at Ulsan University Hospital is treating a patient. Photo provided by Ulsan University Hospital

It is no exaggeration to say that it is a smoker’s disease. Approximately 70% of lung cancer cases are related to smoking.

Smokers have a 10 times higher risk of developing lung cancer than non-smokers. Cigarette smoke contains approximately 4,000 chemicals, more than 60 of which are known to be carcinogens.

You can lower your risk of developing lung cancer by quitting smoking, and the risk of developing lung cancer begins to decrease from about 5 years onwards.

If you quit smoking for about 15 years, your risk of developing lung cancer can be reduced by 1.5 to 2 times compared to a non-smoker.

It is known that the risk of developing lung cancer is higher the younger the age at which smoking begins, the longer the smoking period, and the greater the amount of daily smoking.

Let’s learn about lung cancer with Professor Chae Kang-hee of the Department of Respiratory Medicine at Ulsan University Hospital.

◇There is no need to move to the mountains or countryside with good air just because you have lung cancer.

Air pollution also plays a role in lung cancer, but there is no need to move to the mountains or countryside with good air quality.

After surgery, regular outpatient follow-up is required, and if complications or side effects occur during chemotherapy, you must visit the hospital immediately.

Therefore, it is not advisable to be isolated in the mountains or rural areas where transportation is difficult.

Even for patients undergoing treatment, as well as patients who are not receiving treatment for a while, it is more helpful to stay with family in a place with good medical facilities and accessibility rather than living separately in the countryside.

◇ Lung cancer is not untreatable

Although lung cancer is a scary cancer, it is not impossible to treat.

Diagnosis and treatment for lung cancer are advancing very rapidly. As a result, the 5-year survival rate for lung cancer, which usually means cure of cancer, is improving from 13% in the past to 32% in 2018 statistics.

Therefore, it is important for patients at high risk of lung cancer to quit smoking and undergo lung cancer screening.

Additionally, if lung cancer is suspected during a test, it is very important to receive a prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Lung cancer is a disease that commonly occurs in older people in their 50s to 70s, but the incidence of lung cancer is also increasing in younger age groups.

Looking at the characteristics of young patients, the proportion of women is higher than men, and in many cases, the disease has already progressed at the time of diagnosis.

According to a study published in Korea, there are reports that the survival rate is low because cancer is more advanced at the time of diagnosis compared to the elderly, but another study reports that there is no difference, so it is difficult to draw a definite conclusion.

In addition, existing research results have not been analyzed for new treatment methods, including recent targeted therapies, so additional research targeting many patients is needed in the future.

◇ Is lung cancer hereditary?

If you have a family history of lung cancer, your risk of developing lung cancer increases.

In particular, the incidence of lung cancer is known to be approximately twice as high in direct relatives, and about 30% higher in 4th cousins.

And, if there is a family history, it is known that women are more likely to develop lung cancer than men.

If you have a smoking history and a family history, the incidence of lung cancer is higher than the individual cases, so smoking while having a family history can be said to be isolation, adding fuel to the fire.

Lung cancer related to family history is more common in non-small cell cancer than in small cell cancer, and adenocarcinoma is known to be more common among them.

◇ Electronic cigarettes also increase the risk of lung cancer.

Liquid electronic cigarettes are products that use nicotine cartridges to vaporize the nicotine contained in the cartridge and inhale it every time you inhale cigarette smoke.

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said that although the toxicity and short-term health effects of e-cigarettes may be less harmful than traditional cigarettes, the long-term effects are unknown, so research is needed to confirm this.

Cigarette-type electronic cigarettes are a new type of hybrid cigarette that heats tobacco with a battery, and are also called heated cigarettes or steamed cigarettes.

Tobacco companies promote it as a safe cigarette with no tar and no odor, so the number of users is rapidly increasing.

However, according to data from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety in 2018, the nicotine content is similar to that of regular cigarettes, causing nicotine dependence and withdrawal symptoms and making it difficult to quit.

In conclusion, all tobacco products are harmful, and smokers who want to quit smoking should try to quit smoking using drugs with proven smoking cessation effects.

◇Will cancer spread if a biopsy or surgery is performed?

There may be concerns that cancer may spread after needle biopsy, and there are actually very few patient case reports in the literature.

However, there is no scientific basis in large-scale studies. Therefore, in a typical biopsy, the cancer does not spread after the biopsy.

They said they could completely remove the cancer through surgery, so they had a difficult surgery, but when the cancer returned, disappointment grew. At that time, I thought that the cancer had spread because of the biopsy or surgery, but the cancer did not spread because of the biopsy or surgery.

The reason this misunderstanding arises is because the recurrence rate of lung cancer is high.

Unlike stomach cancer or breast cancer, lung cancer recurs in 20% of stage 1, 40% of stage 2, and over 70% of stage 3 or higher.

Also, although medical science has advanced, even with high-tech equipment, tiny invisible lesions may remain and recur after surgery. In these cases, you may feel resentful of the medical staff who ordered the surgery, but surgery is still the treatment with the highest chance of curing lung cancer.

Therefore, if the stage is operable, lung cancer surgery should be actively performed. Recently, in cases where it is difficult to tolerate surgery, there is a method that can achieve a similar effect to surgery with radiation therapy.

Therefore, you should avoid missing treatment opportunities due to excessive worry or misunderstanding about recurrence.

Because lung cancer can progress quickly, even a slight delay can eliminate the chance of cure. You should avoid missing important treatment times due to misunderstandings.

Professor Chae Kang-hee of the Department of Pulmonary Medicine at the University of Ulsan Hospital said, “The number of lung cancer patients is increasing, and many treatments for lung cancer are being developed, so the treatment results are improving.” He added, “Still, I hope that smokers must quit smoking to avoid getting lung cancer.” Summary = Reporter Choi Joo-eun

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2023-11-27 11:29:51

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