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Early Detection, Targeted Treatment Crucial to Win Against Lung Cancer: Experts

Written by : Nikita Saha

November 30, 2023

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Lung cancer has become a significant health challenge in India, and addressing this crisis necessitates a multi-pronged approach. This includes efforts in tobacco control, improving air quality, early detection, and advancements in treatment.

With the alarming rate of lung cancer cases in India, healthcare experts from different segments echoed the need of targeted treatment to tackle the fight against the disease in India. Further, they stressed on the importance of early detection, availability of skilled oncologists, quality care, financial assistance etc to combat the disease in the country.

Neelima Dwivedi, senior director, External Affairs (Market Access, Communications, Policy and Government Affairs), MSD Pharmaceutical, said, “Lung cancer is the most often diagnosed cancer, constituting 5.9% in India, with 8.1% of all cancer deaths attributed to lung cancer. There are critical gaps in screening and early detection, limited access to biomarker testing for lung cancer, and a shortage of 5,000 trained oncologists, particularly in medical oncology, creating a significant gap in lung cancer care.’’

She further elaborated on the challenges ahead, stressing that by 2030, there will be a growing need for more trained oncologists. The use of technology, she explained, can play a crucial role in bridging existing gaps in lung cancer care.

In her words, "Quality cancer care is hindered by stigma, and there is a substantial healthcare financing gap. Incorporating modern and targeted treatments into programs like PM-JAY is essential, as even insurance coverage often falls short of providing access to modern treatments. It's a serious issue that requires serious attention and understanding of how we can support individuals suffering from lung cancer and their families.”

Padmashri Prof DS Rana, chairperson, ASSOCHAM National Healthcare Council and Board of Trustees, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, emphasised, “Lung cancer is a preventable disease. However, there is a serious need to promote awareness.”

Lung cancer has become a significant health challenge in India, and addressing this crisis necessitates a multi-pronged approach. This includes efforts in tobacco control, improving air quality, early detection, and advancements in treatment.

Collaborative action from healthcare authorities, policymakers, and communities is crucial to alleviate the growing burden of lung cancer in India and enhance the well-being of affected individuals.

Dr Yutaro Setoya, team lead, Non-Communicable Diseases at WHO India, pointed out the importance of early detection in cancer cases. While DNA testing and modern technologies such as AI can serve as health innovations, he stressed that the primary focus should be on providing comprehensive and affordable treatment to patients.

Moreover, he underscored the role of research in industry which according to him is the key. In conclusion, he expressed that the WHO is willing to provide scaling support to India.

With the goal of fostering innovations in treatment pathways, ASSOCHAM is organising the 2nd Conference on Lung Cancer today. The event aims to tackle the complexity of the disease, improve survival rates, reduce side effects, and enhance the overall patient experience.

The rising lung cancer and mortality cases also finds a mention at the event. Dr Abhishek Shankar, associate professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, AIIMS Delhi, urged action, stating, "If we don't act now, heavy human life loss and a huge economic burden will follow. This is especially crucial when cost-effective screening is available in India."

Initiated by ASSOCHAM during Lung Cancer Awareness Month, the conference witnessed deliberations ranging from early detection to personalised treatment and improving survival rates in lung cancer.


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