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World Cancer Day 2021: Understanding The Correlation Between COPD And Cancer

World Cancer Day 2021: COPD is one of the co-morbidities and a major risk factor for lung cancer - one of the most common cancers in the world, constituting 6.9 per cent of all new cancer cases and 9.3 per cent of all cancer related deaths in India.

World Cancer Day 2021: Understanding The Correlation Between COPD And Cancer

World Cancer Day is observed on February 4

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. World Cancer Day: Quit smoking to reduce risk of cancer and COPD
  2. Over 1% of people living with COPD develop lung cancer globally
  3. People with COPD are also likely to develop more cardiovascular diseases

World Cancer Day 2021: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a long-term lung defect, commonly found in India. It is one of the most common group of diseases and is the third largest killer in the world today. As time progresses, COPD symptoms worsen resulting in chronic coughing with mucous, wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, etc. mirroring several other respiratory ailments such as asthma or bronchitis. What's worse is that the ongoing pandemic has exacerbated the number of patients that suffer from COPD. In fact, India contributes a significant and growing percentage of COPD mortality which is estimated to be amongst the highest in the world, - more than 64.7 estimated age standardized death rate per 100,000 amongst both sexes.

COPD and cancer: What's the link?


COPD is one of the co-morbidities and a major risk factor for lung cancer - one of the most common cancers in the world, constituting 6.9 per cent of all new cancer cases and 9.3 per cent of all cancer related deaths in India. Both lung cancer and COPD share common are caused by unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking in different forms. Additionally, kitchen smoke, especially in Indian rural areas, where women cook on wooden or clay stove for years, also causes COPD with the same characteristics as observed in tobacco smokers. It is estimated that every year, over 1% of people living with COPD develop lung cancer globally.

Also read: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: All You Need To Know About The Causes Of COPD

This year's World Cancer day theme 'I am and I will' gives an important message that it is essential for each individual to take responsibility for their actions and to realise the enduring power of collective cooperation towards building a future without cancer. And that is why, today on World Cancer Day, we need to spark conversations and provoke a deeper understanding of COPD, its link with lung cancer, its causes, consequences, treatments available and the measures to prevent or manage it.

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Quit smoking as it can increase the risk of both COPD and cancer
Photo Credit: iStock

With the onset of the pandemic, respiratory disorders have increased significantly in the country. This is further aggravated with the increasing pollution, decreasing temperatures, and worsening AQI (Air Quality Index). While these conditions are external, we can control other factors that can prevent COPD and lung cancer, such as smoking. There is plenty of evidence that proves smoking is by far the most common risk factor for COPD and therefore, lung cancer.

Also read: World Cancer Day 2021: Boost Your Lung Health With These Tips To Control Lung Cancer Risk

Chronic inflammation caused by various gases out of smoking, pollution, household smoke can induce COPD and lung cancer. This leads to chronic release of inflammatory mediators that may promote a cascade that leads to the development of lung cancer from COPD.

And not just lung cancer, it affects the other parts of the body as well and causes cancers of larynx, liver, pancreas, stomach, bladder. People with COPD are also likely to develop more cardiovascular diseases.

Early detection of COPD is important, so anybody experiencing symptoms such as cough, difficulty in breathing, chest tightening, with a history of smoking for years are advised to visit a pulmonologist. Early detection and treatment may reduce the risks of related diseases like cancer and lessen its symptoms. In addition to pharmacological treatment, therapies such as LTOT (Long term Oxygen Therapy) and NIVs (Non Invasive Ventilators) have proven to be effective in treatment of COPD. Today, with social distancing being the new norm, it may be difficult for COPD patients, to step out and visit clinics. In such cases, ResMed's cloud connected solutions have time and again proven to be beneficial in providing home care that is continuously being monitored remotely by a verified doctor. ResMed's technology has been able to provide hospital like treatment, at reduced cost, and at the comfort of their homes.

Also read: Is Immunotherapy Changing The Future Of Lung Cancer?

(Dr Sibasish Dey - Head, Medical Affairs, Asia, and Latin America, ResMed)


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