Lung Cancer: Q&A with Dr. Todorovic | 03 August 2020
In the following interview with Dr. Todorovic at Panafricare Clinic, we learn more about lung cancer, why it is important that we understand the risk factors and take the necessary preventive measures which are currently available.
Seychelles NATION:What is lung cancer and what is the situation like in Seychelles with regards to this type of cancer?
Dr. Todorovic: The lungs are the paired organs in the chest and they provide oxygen to the body. Without oxygen there is no life and that is why we consider the lungs to be vital organs like the brain, heart, liver and kidneys.
Lung cancer is a general name for the group of malignant diseases affecting the lungs. There are a few types of lung cancers and they all are big killers all around the world. This is because they can stay silent without symptoms until it is already too late or they spread very early and some don’t respond well to classical treatment.
The Seychelles islands in the past had smaller sporadic records on lung cancer deaths which might have increased in the last decades. The victims are usually men and also heavy smokers, but the rate was always such that the three leading cancers in men were: prostate, colon and lungs, in this particular order. According to official statistics in 2018, the adjusted rate was 13.23 per 100,000 population; still far behind many developed countries, ranking 89th in the world.
Seychelles NATION:What are the risk factors for developing lung cancer? Are there any groups of people who are more likely to develop it?
Dr. Todorovic:Risk factors are always the same. The main group of factors are lifestyle and environmental impact, followed by genetics. Smoking was always listed the number one noxious factor and confirmed as a potential cancer-causing habit.
This is why many years ago the world campaign on smokingwhich took place in Seychelles in the early nineties has shown a great impact on reducing this so called determinant of health.
Mostly addressing men, as women in Seychelles practically don’t smoke, the years of exposure to cigarette smoking, charcoal burning or toxic fumes and chemicals, bring a major risk to middle-aged men and older people. Children do not get this disease.
Seychelles NATION:What are the signs and symptoms of lung cancer?
Dr. Todorovic:In the early phase, there are no signs and no symptoms. However, a dry cough, particularly lasting longer than six weeks, remains the leading complaint and this always needs a detailed examination. This is the first symptom for the bronchogenic type of carcinoma followed by some scanty sputum which is usually blood stained.
The other type of cancer which is more peripheral like ‘alveolocellular’, can stay silent for a long time and without symptoms in the beginning, thus it is discovered in an advanced stage with shortness of breath and general body weakness.
Seychelles NATION:How is lung cancer diagnosed?
Dr. Todorovic:Patients’ positive history with clinical examination, gets further confirmed by an X-ray chest examination and a bronchoscopy with biopsy.
Seychelles NATION:How can one lowertheir risk of developing lung cancer?
Dr. Todorovic:Risk is definitely reduced with smoking secession. Even in the terminal lung cancer illness in palliative centers, stopping smoking extends the life for three months onaverage.
Seychelles NATION:What are the treatment options for lung cancer?
Dr. Todorovic:Prognosis of the cancer depends on staging but treatment options are sometimes quite limited and lung cancer remains a deadly disease.
Treatment options are medical and surgical. When we say medical, we think of immuno and hemotherapy, as well as radiotherapy. Surgical treatments are very successful when undertaken in an early stage.
Pretreatment staging is very important for proper treatment in the protocol decision. If the staging shows that the grade is IIIB, there is no higher success rate in surgery than in other treatments. What is more, surgery only brings more risk for complications.
The newest protocols involving immunotherapy or medicines targeting blockade of endothelial growth factors by blocking the vascularization of further growth of the tumor, are more promising.
Seychelles NATION:Would you like to share any further information or advice?
Dr. Todorovic:My message to everyone: Don’t ignore an extended dry cough, choose a healthy lifestyle without smoking and alcohol, do genetic testing for inherited risk factors and proceed with regular preventive checkups after the age of 45 within the screening program, including chest X-ray for risky groups. There are tumor markers developing every day for the detection of different cancers, and the future will be brighter with rapid techniques from a little drop of blood.
The Panafricare Clinic is conducting preventive checkups for the most common cancers in Seychelles, both for men and women, for early detection of breast, prostate, colon and lung cancers. The earlier the cancer is discovered, the easier the treatment with better outcome is guaranteed.
For more information, call Panafricare Clinic: 4321310.