Social Innovation Trend Canvas

Early Lung Cancer Detection Saves Lives

While smoking increases the risk of having lung cancer, not smoking does not necessarily mean that you would be completely freed from lung cancer. Interestingly, being an Asian increases the chances that you getting non-smoking lung cancer.

This is mainly due to a gene variant lung adenocarcinoma found among Asians. Together with the increasing second-hand smoke from smokers, air pollution, and oil particles from cooking, exposure to asbestos and radon gas from building materials, it is not surprising to see non-smoking lung cancer cases rapidly increasing in many countries in Asia.

Non-smoking lung cancer, unlike smoking lung cancer, tends to start from the finer and thinner peripheral sections of the lungs – an area that is generally harder to reach and perform diagnosis. This usually results in late diagnosis and delayed treatment, leading to the high lung cancer death rates.

Taiwan, for instance, experiences about 10,000 new lung cancer cases each year, with 67 percent being non-smoking lung cancer. Less than 30 percent of these new lung cancer patients survive beyond the first year due to the late detection.

India is similarly seeing a heightening incidence of non-smoking lung cancer among non-smoking women. Still, a large portion of lung cancer remains associated with cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking contributes to second-hand smoke, affecting the health of their loved ones through second-hand smoke. This is particularly the case in unfiltered cigarettes such as Bidi cigarettes in India, and further exacerbated with a smoking habit of holding the smoke in the lungs for a few seconds.

Lung cancer is the leading type of cancer as well as the biggest cause of cancer deaths in many Asian countries. It is only through a combination of awareness drives, regular health screenings, new technologies for early detection, financing options to make treatment affordable, and smoking cessation initiatives, that countries have a hope of arresting this killer.