Established five years ago, Agosto Branco draws attention to the importance of preventing the type of cancer that causes the most deaths in the world: lung cancer. There were 1.7 million victims worldwide in 2020, more than 30,000 deaths in Brazil alone, according to the Brazilian Society of Clinical Oncology (SBOC).
Among the main risk factors for this type of cancer are smoking, air pollution, contact with chemicals such as asbestos (asbestos) and derivatives from burning oil, and a family history of cancer.
“The main risk factor is smoking: 85% of lung cancer cases are related to cigarettes, direct tobacco smoke. There are another 15% of patients who have never smoked. And then there are several risk factors that can be associated in what we call the non-smoking population, which are genetic factors; environment pollution; exposure to certain gases and heavy metals, particularly at work, such as silica; and passive smokers, who live with people who smoke in the same environment”, highlights oncologist Aknar Calabrich.
Among the main symptoms of lung cancer are coughing for more than a month, with the presence of blood or with progressive worsening; persistent chest pain not associated with trauma; shortness of breath and difficulty breathing; unexplained and unintentional weight loss.
Lung cancer is usually silent and only diagnosed in advanced stages. The initial symptoms of the disease are not very clear and appear late. Given this situation, the oncologist warns that early detection is the key point to increase the chances of an effective treatment.
“The main prevention is to stop smoking. This reduces not only lung cancer, but bladder cancer, mouth cancer, pancreatic cancer, and other cancers. And there are lifestyle changes that reduce the risk of cancer in general, which are the practice of physical activities, regular sleep, weight control, and prioritizing fruits and vegetables”, he points out.
For those who smoke or have smoked in the past, the advice is to maintain regular consultations with a pulmonologist and perform screening CT scans to increase the chances of an early diagnosis.
Calabrich also points out that e-cigarettes are suspected to cause lung cancer. Also known as vaporizers, they have the ability to promote nicotine dependence even greater than the common cigarette, in addition to causing, in the short term, respiratory and cardiovascular damage.
“There is a trend towards a decrease in smoking worldwide, but electronic cigarettes are coming in the opposite direction. In it there are substances that not only cause dependence, such as nicotine, but also the combustion of other substances that we do not know, because they are not regulated products. There is the burning of products that in the long term have not only caused respiratory problems, lung burns, diseases such as lipoid pneumonia, but there is, yes, the suspicion of the risk of developing lung cancer”, he explained.
Despite the higher incidence of the disease in people who smoke, the thoracic surgeon at the Cancer Institute of the State of São Paulo (Icesp) at the Hospital das Clínicas of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of São Paulo (USP), Pedro Nabuco, warns that it is not correct to think that those who have never smoked need not worry about lung cancer.
“There is a stigma that lung cancer only occurs in those who smoke or have smoked, and this is not true. It is important to note that lung cancer can occur in people who have no relationship with cigarettes, and there are even genetic mutations that can happen independently of smoking habits”, he highlights.
“It is common for non-smoking patients to discover the tumor when investigating other conditions, such as covid-19, for example. During the pandemic, many tumors were diagnosed incidentally, due to the increase in the number of imaging tests, such as x-ray and tomography, performed in patients with suspected infection by covid-19 “.
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