Address: Dr Pongsak Viddayakorn Conference room, 7th floor of Bangkok Rehabilitation Building, Bangkok Hospital, 2 Soi Soonvijai 7, New Phetchaburi Rd., Bang Kapi, Huai Khwang, Bangkok 10310 Thailand See map
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Smoke on the agenda
- Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
- Published: November 14, 2012 at 8:08 am
They are called "coffin nails" and "cancer sticks" and it's no accident since cigarette smoking is closely linked to lung diseases and death. And as November is World Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Bangkok hospitals are joining a worldwide push to raise awareness of the disease.
Lung cancer is a common malignant disease worldwide. In Thailand, lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men after colon and rectum cancer and the fourth most common in women, according to National Cancer Institute statistics from last year.
Lung cancer is a complicated disease, and occurs when normal lung cells change, grow and divide out of control. The injured cells begin to multiply abnormally and can form a tumour in the lung tissue. This process develops slowly over a period of years.
The uncontrolled cell growth can also spread beyond the lungs into nearby tissue and other parts of the body.
According to Dr Sawang Saenghirunvattana, the senior director of the Bangkok Chest and Respiratory Center at Bangkok Hospital, smoking is the biggest risk factor. About 85% of lung cancer cases are related to smoking.
Studies have shown that smoking causes premature deaths and long-term smokers can expect a shorter average lifespan. According to Dr Sawang, smoking a pack a day is likely to result in a lifespan seven to 10 years shorter than that of non-smokers.
Non-smokers can also develop lung cancer, although exposure to second-hand smoke is among the greatest risk factors. Passive smokers also put themselves at risk of other diseases. Women who are exposed to their husband's smoking have a risk of developing ischaemic heart disease that is 3.4 times higher than women with non-smoking husbands.
Living in a polluted city or an industrial zone, working in a smoky environment and being exposed to certain chemicals also increases the risk of lung cancer.
The early stages of lung cancer don't exhibit worrisome symptoms.
By the time people experience a persistent cough, fatigue, loss of appetite, inexplicable weight loss, pain in the chest, shortness of breath and pneumonia the disease is already in its advanced stages.
Coughing up blood is an important sign of a serious problem.
Treatment is commonly based on the type and stage of the condition, and the available options also depend on a patient's age, general health and medical history. Standard treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, sometimes combined. Advanced targeted therapy is another important option used to block the growth of cancer cells by interfering with specific targeted molecules needed for carcinogenesis and tumour growth. In contrast, traditional chemotherapy interferes with all rapidly dividing cells.
The best medicine for lung cancer is prevention as smoking is by far the most important risk factor in the development of lung cancer. To reduce risk, don't start smoking. If you smoke, quit. In fact, quitting smoking helps improve people's lives in many ways.
Smokers who are trying to quit can also take part in acupuncture and food therapy programmes that can soothe nicotine cravings and ease irritability. Certain food and beverages help smokers avoid cravings and kick the habit.
Bangkok Hospital and Wattanosoth Cancer Hospital will hold a seminar called "All you need to know about lung cancer" by experts and specialists. The seminar will be on Sunday from 9am to 11.30am at the Dr Pongsak Viddayakorn Conference room, 7th floor of Bangkok Rehabilitation Building. Activities including lung function tests and advice on how to quit smoking are also available. Free admission. For reservations call 1719.