Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2023: November is observed as Lung Cancer Awareness Month annually to increase awareness about the soaring statistics of lung cancer. It aims at increasing awareness about early diagnosis, treatment and prevention of lung cancer. This global health campaign encourages people to take control of their health, make informed decisions, and be prepared to face challenges in diagnosing lung cancer.
In a conversation with Jagran English, Dr Shikhar Kumar, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad explained how one can maintain a healthy lifestyle during and after lung cancer treatment.
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According to Dr Kumar, lung cancer can affect both men and women and current or former smokers and never smokers as well. Smokers who develop lung cancers tend to have more aggressive cancers like squamous cell carcinomas/small cell carcinomas, whereas non-smokers tend to usually develop adenocarcinomas. In India, more than 75% of lung cancers are diagnosed in the locally advanced (stage III) or metastatic (stage IV) stages. The mainstay of treatment in these stages is chemotherapy/radiation therapy, but with rapid advances in the past decade, immunotherapy and targeted therapy have transformed the outcomes for these cancers dramatically.
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Lifestyle Habits During Treatment
Dr Kumar says that adherence to the treatment plan as advised by the oncologist is very important to achieve good outcomes and in this regard, maintaining a healthy lifestyle plays a vital role. A major issue encountered is that patients undergoing treatment for lung cancer caused by smoking, often continue to smoke, even during treatment. Multiple studies have demonstrated that cigarette smoking during cancer treatment leads to inferior survival outcomes and reduces the chances of cure. Oncologists routinely counsel and motivate patients to give up this deadly habit and also prescribe medicines such as Nicotine transdermal patches and oral medicines such as bupropion/varenicline to patients who are motivated to quit smoking. The patient’s family and caregivers also play a key role in helping the patient quit smoking.
Consuming healthy foods is essential post lung cancer treatment (Image Credits: Canva)
Patients are counselled to consume freshly cooked, home-based hygienic food during treatment and avoid raw, uncooked food, especially from unknown sources. They should remain physically active during treatment and engage in moderate aerobic activity and yoga or meditation etc. These activities have been shown to improve the patient’s overall sense of well-being, beat chemotherapy-related fatigue and improve appetite and sleep.
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Lifestyle Changes After Treatment
According to Dr Kumar, once the cancer treatment is complete, patients are motivated to resume their work and follow a lifestyle as it was before. However, patients are also advised that unhealthy lifestyle practices like cigarette smoking, eating excessive junk food or alcohol consumption are best avoided. Having been through the physical, psycho-social or financial trauma of cancer diagnosis and treatment, patients are usually highly motivated to give up past habits and get ready to begin their life again, post-treatment, on a fresh slate.
(Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment.)