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Understanding Targeted Therapy on this World Cancer Lung Day: A Hope in Lung Cancer Treatment

Considered on August 1, World Lung Cancer Day holds a remarkable significance in spreading light on the worldwide impact of lung cancer. It serves as an important platform for raising the awareness about this lasting disease that affects thousands of lives globally. The day holds a mission of enlightening individuals with the disease’s education like complexities, risk factors and most importantly, the huge importance of early identification. 


To provide insights into the critical factors of lung cancer and advancements in its cure, we turn to Dr. Kunjahari Medhi, a renowned expert in the field. As the senior director of Medical Oncology & Hemato-Oncology at the Cancer Institute, Medanta, Gurugram, Dr. Medhi offers a pool of knowledge and experience to the discussion. His perspective and views lightens the significance of World Lung Cancer Day in laying out awareness about screening done at the right time and smoking programs. Moreover, it emphasises the role of research and experimentation in the world of lung cancer treatment to enhance the outcomes and quality of life for the patients fighting this disease today. 


Table of Content:

  • Understanding lung cancer
  • Diagnosis and prevention
  • Treatment methods
  • The role of targeted therapy
  • Benefits of targeted therapy


Understanding Lung Cancer


Lung cancer, a forbidding and often a disturbing disease, develops in lungs first. To be more specific, it originates from cells that are present in the air passages. These can grow into damaging tumours that can take root in the soft lung tissue while creating a threat to one’s health. While there are several contributing factors in lung cancer evolution and origination, the most identified causes include tobacco smoking. It accounts for nearly 80 to 90% of all the cases today. Tobacco smoking exposes a person to toxins and carcinogens that can damage lung cells and lead to an uncontrolled development of cancerous tissues. 


In recent times, increasing risk factors have added difficulties to the overall lung cancer scenario. One such risk factor is vaping. Vaping among the youngsters has brought a new and concerning aspect to the disease. The devices for vaping which are often said to be a safer alternative to cigarettes can actually harm lung tissues and the overall immune system. It can weaken the body while making it more prone to lung cancer. Under such circumstances, identifying the cancer in its early stages becomes important. Some of the most common signs include chest pain, constant cough and shortness of breath. Unexplained weight loss and blood coughing can also be the signs. Having an awareness about these symptoms is important to seek medical attention and improve the condition with early diagnosis.


Diagnosis and Prevention


Early diagnosis can impact the patient outcome to a huge extent. It can be a beacon of hope in the outcome of patients today. Different diagnostic methods are employed like advanced imaging tests (X-rays and CT scans) along with biopsies and sputum cytology. The arrival of high-resolution CT scans and PET CT scans has revolutionised early identification by offering detailed lung images and views. It has enabled the swift recognition of suspicious nodules and masses. Something equally important are the biopsy techniques like bronchoscopy and needle biopsies that ensures precision in the diagnosis of lung tissues.


Prevention is always better than any other solution not only in lung health conditions but all body health issues. Strategies and various techniques should be made aware of, to fight the deadly disease. Quitting smoking and eliminating second hand smoking can reduce the damage of lung cells and increase the chances of remaining lung cancer free all the life. Embracing a healthy and holistic lifestyle along with exercise and balanced nutrition with timely check-ups can help an individual greatly.  


Treatment Methods


The treatment course for lung cancer can depend on various stages and the damage it has caused. These important factors can help in deciding the most effective approach to fight the disease and improve patient results. Treatment solutions for lung cancer can include a spectrum of approaches out of which each is designed to address different characteristics of the cancer:


  1. Surgery: In localised cancer cases, surgery is the most common treatment approach. Surgeons simply remove the tumours and lymph nodes. 
  2. Chemotherapy: This solution helps majorly in eradicating cancer cells via potent drugs used for targeting them. It is mainly helpful in cases where cancer has outgrown the organ. 
  3. Radiation therapy: The high energy beams in radiation therapy helps in precision of targeting cancer cells. It is a great option for localised cancers or to reduce the symptoms of lung cancer in advanced stages. 
  4. Immunotherapy: This top-notch approach can help in the body's combating ability and boosting the immune system. It has shown significant results in countering lung cancer types.
  5. Targeted therapy: This is a treatment method that targets the molecular abnormalities that drive the cancer growth. It helps in minimising any kind of damage to the healthy regions as well. Patients with genetic mutations have seen the best results due to targeted therapy. 


The Role of Targeted Therapy


Targeted therapy stands as a central development in enhancing outcomes for lung cancer patients. Unlike traditional chemotherapy that affects both cancerous and healthy cells, targeted therapy provides accuracy by homing in on molecular abnormalities that drive cancer growth. This precision reduces collateral damage to tissues that are healthy and decreases the severe and unmanageable side effects related to chemotherapy in lung cancer.


Furthermore, targeted therapy has shown significant effects in patients with genetic mutations like EGFR (Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor) and ALK (Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase). These mutations are said to be the prime factors of cancer which makes targeted therapy a highly personalised and potent approach. Targeted therapy not only manages the tumours but their extension as well. It also reduces the risk of cancer recurrence. 


Benefits of Targeted Therapy


Although targeted therapy can have a lot of benefits, the following are the most common and observed ones:


  1. Significant tumour control: Targeted therapy is extremely effective in controlling the development of cancerous tumours. 
  2. Increasing progression-free survival: Targeted therapy helps in extending the timeframe of progression free survival which allows patients to have more time without disease growth.
  3. Decrease in cancer recurrence: Targeted therapy is highly effective in decreasing the rate of cancer recurrence in patients.  
  4. Milder side effects: Targeted therapy is often linked with the least side effects treatment method, enhancing a patient’s daily life.


Overall, targeted therapy is a pathbreaking advancement in the treatment of lung cancer. It gives precision in controlling tumour growth and increasing survival rates. It is the hope of several lung cancer patients today and strikes a new era in the field. 


This blog has been converted from the PR article - World Lung Cancer Day: What is targeted therapy? How does it give an air of hope in treatment outcomes?

Medanta Medical Team
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