Another reminder that quitting tobacco effectively prevents lung cancer

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Another reminder that quitting tobacco effectively prevents lung cancer
Prof. dr. Elisna Syahruddin, Sp.P(K)Onk, Ph.D. Photo:

IO – Lung cancer is the neoplasm with the highest incidence in Indonesia. 34,783 new cases were recorded in 2020, with a death rate of 30,843. Of these new cases, 14.1% or 25,943 are men’s. The cancer’s survival rate is also the lowest: The Lancet Oncology journal reports that only 13.7% of lung cancer patients survive after diagnosis is confirmed, with an average lifespan of only eight months. 

Death from lung cancer is actually preventable, and health costs can be saved if proper diagnosis and treatment are performed early. dr. Evlina Suzanna, Sp.PA, General Secretary of Indonesia Oncologists’ Association, declared that patients require comprehensive service, which includes screening or early detection, diagnosis, and early and proper treatment to ensure higher survival rate and lower treatment costs. 

“Active collaboration among different groups is necessary for comprehensive lung cancer management. Such efforts include education, provision of multi-discipline experts, easy access to proper health facilities, easy availability of medicine and medical equipment, and sufficient funding for quality health services. This ease of access should improve the survival rate of sufferers,” dr. Evlina stated in the “Holistic Improvements to Prevent Death from Lung Cancer” webinar held on Tuesday (08/02/2022). 

Therapy Options 

During the same event, Prof. dr. Elisna Syahruddin, Sp.P(K)Onk, Ph.D, Research of Indonesian Association for the Study on Thoracic Oncology (“IASTO”) Executive Director, declared that controlling risk factors is an important step in preventing the incidence of lung cancer. “Primary risk factors include a habit of tobacco smoking, otherwise getting constantly exposed to carcinogens for a long time, or a history of cancer in the family. Therefore, screening is extremely necessary to ensure that the disease is found in its early stages and efforts to improve survival rate have a greater chance of success.” 

There are two recommended ways of screening for lung cancer: first, screening for lung cancer in groups that show no symptoms. This voluntary screening is performed on people who show no symptoms yet are 45 years old or older, active smokers, or who only stopped smoking within the past 10 years. Second, screening on people who show no symptoms, do not smoke, but have a history of (lung) cancer in the family and/or have suffered from chronic lung illness followed by sequela. 

Over the years, many countries have begun to implement a screening policy of low-dose CT (“LDCT”) scan for early detection of lung cancer. In Indonesia, free or at least partially subsidized screening is available for people with high risk factors. “Therapy options that we offer must be suitable for the characteristics of lung cancer among Indonesians. Technological advances have allowed for molecular-level checks, which in turn allow us to provide correct, targeted therapy that will save treatment costs for patients and their families,” Prof. Elisna said. 

Meanwhile, Coordinator of Ministry of Health Educational Hospital dr. Else Mutiara Sihotang reported that as part of its global commitment to achieve Sustainable Development Goals through the 2019-2024 National Medium-Term Development Plan, the Government is committed to reduce early deaths from non-communicable diseases, including cancer, down to a third of its current level by 2030. “The Ministry of Health 2019-2024 Strategic Plan’s target is to have 100% of our regencies and municipalities perform early detection of cancer at ≥ 80% of its 30-50 year-old population by 2024, especially for breast cancer, cervical cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer,” she said. (est)