Immunotherapy treatments have become a life expectancy for patients with lung cancer, as they can prolong their life up to five years after their diagnosis.
“Before, this hope was reduced to months, with treatments combined with chemo and immunotherapy, patients can find themselves in very good condition over the years,” explained oncologist Jorge Alatorre Alexander.
During the commemoration of National Lung Cancer Day, the specialist in chest tumors recalled that this disease is the second most common in the population worldwide.
In addition, it is the neoplasm with the highest mortality, since of the 2.2 million cases that are diagnosed each year, 1.8 million die.
“The mortality, if we compare it, is similar to that which has occurred in a pandemic year due to covid-19,” he said.
He lamented that 99% of these cases are detected in late stages, which impacts the chances of survival.
“If detected early, 60% of patients could be alive five years after their diagnosis,” he said.
Alatorre explained that scientific advances have allowed a quarter of people with advanced cancer to be candidates for specific treatments for molecular targets, that is, immunotherapy.
This type of treatment is based on monoclonal antibodies that help healthy cells eliminate cancer cells, thereby eradicating the effects of the disease.
However, he asserted that these therapies are not used in all health institutions due to lack of availability and costs.
“Access is different, however, there are public institutions that do use them, so it is necessary to push for the best treatment to be available,” he said.
PREVENTION IS KEY
Anna María Rojowska, associate medical director of the pharmaceutical company MSD, pointed out that it is essential that people limit their risk of developing cancer, not just lung cancer.
For this, she said, it is necessary for people to maintain an adequate and stable weight, engage in physical activity, eat an adequate and balanced diet, and avoid smoking and second-hand smoke.
In addition, you should be aware of the warning signs in lung cancer, such as a cough that does not go away or worsens, chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing up blood, tiredness and weight loss without known cause.
Similarly, Dr. Alatorre recommended annual screenings to those with a family history of this cancer to detect any abnormal situation early.
Patricia Mondragón, president of Respirando con Valor, also pointed out that it is important to remove the stigma of this disease, since although 85% of cases are associated with smoking, there are also other causes.
“It is a slow task that will be accomplished with information and education,” she concluded.