Ending smoking significantly reduces the risk of lung cancer after 10 years of withdrawal; and besides, if it was not the cigar, the cases of this disease would have been very few, said Dr. Isabela Rivas to Ephe.
"85% of this cancer is associated with tobacco, although in Mexico this figure is reduced, as 34% of the cases are responsible for wood smoke," said Roche Mexico, the medical director of oncology.
Lung cancer, the expert explained, is a change in cells in the lungs that grow in a disorganized way and without a normal function that causes the lung tissue to enter and generate deficiencies in that organ.
"This can also spread to other parts of the body, mainly in the brain," Rivas said.
This is why in the world this is the most common cancer and the first oncological cause of death. One million new cases have been reported in one year and 1.7 million people die.
In Mexico, 9,000 new cases are found annually, and 22 Mexicans die daily due to this condition.
One factor that has led to an increase in the number of cases of lung cancer is that more and more women smoke and do it at a younger age.
"The problem is that eight out of every 10 people arrive at very advanced stages of the disease and that affects so many deaths," the expert said. In addition, "the symptoms are not specific, so the doctor starts treating the patient with cold, pneumonia, antibiotics, and this slows down the diagnosis," he said.
Rivas explained that the life span of patients at an advanced stage is five years. "Only 4% of patients diagnosed at advanced stages are still alive after five years, and the others die between the first and second year of the disease," he said.
However, over the last decades lung cancer treatment has made great progress thanks to the development of new therapies that have improved the survival rate of chemotherapy.
In Mexico, the expert said, progress has been made on access to new therapies, and today there are various alternatives to treat this cancer at an advanced stage and one of them is immunotherapy.
This kind of treatment stimulates the natural defense of the body to fight cancer. "In this therapy, patients who respond have long-term benefits, and in clinical trials, at two years, 30% of patients are still alive, which greatly changes the expectations and treatment of lung cancer," he said.
Another treatment is directed at patients who do not smoke or smoke very little, but have a change in the ALK gene. "They are usually very young patients and women," he said.
Platelet ALK mutation is rare, but with a high incidence of morbidity, as brain metastasis occurs in 60% of cases.