Expert discusses lung cancer causes, symptoms, effects

Closeup of man smoking. STORY: Expert discusses lung cancer symptoms, effects, causes

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. (File photo by NIÑO JESUS ORBETA / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — November being Lung Cancer Awareness Month, a medical expert discussed the causes, symptoms,  effects, and detection of the disease during an educational forum on Tuesday.

Following the theme, “Let’s take a pLUNGe,” the forum was organized by the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology, the Philippine Cancer Society, and AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals Inc.

According to Dr. Christine Chavez, a specialist in clinical and interventional pulmonology, lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the Philippines and the leading cause of cancer deaths.

Chavez emphasizes that prevention is better than cure, pointing out that smoking remains the leading cause of lung cancer. Secondhand smoke, air pollution, engine combustion, and more can also contribute to lung cancer.

Symptoms of lung cancer include persistent cough, coughing blood, chest pain and infections, and hoarseness of voice, Chavez said. However, these only manifest when the cancer has already progressed into the late stages.

“Majority of the cases at present are diagnosed at the late stage already of the disease,” Chavez said.

There are a number of ways to detect lung cancer in a patient, said Chavez. One of them is a low-dose CT scan (LDCT).

“Compared with a regular, full dose CT scan, low dose chest CT scan has five times lower radiation emitted. This is important, especially for individuals with high-risk cancers,” Chavez said.

Early detection is key, as medical experts can do more the earlier a patient is diagnosed. Individuals should know their risk factors, including family illnesses and their immediate environment.

“Only few are diagnosed in the early stage, the early stage being when we can do more, and we can control and possibly cure lung cancer better,” Chavez said.


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