Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Higher Leverage Against Lung Cancer

The fight against cancer has been progressively advancing through the years. Combined efforts from the government, civil society, and health advocacy groups have gained dramatic results. Cancer awareness is on the rise, alternative less cancer-prone lifestyles are arising, while medical researches and technological advancement have tremendously leveled up the fight against one of the world's leading killer. The classic chemotherapy has been modernized and combined with other treatments like radiation, laser, and even organic medicines.

In America alone, the National Health Institute of the US Department of Health and Human Services through its anti-cancer arm National Cancer Institute reported that the death rate due to cancer is still on the decline. In it's annual report to the nation, the NCI claimed that the cancer death rates are progressively declining and progress in cancer treatments are continuously on the rise. In men, study from 1993 to 2002 recorded a decline of 1.5 percent death rate from all cases of cancer. This is higher compared to women's 0.08 percent decline rate.

This report has put the US Department of Health and Human Services at a better position in achieving the goals of its Health People 2010 campaign. The statistics revealed that lung cancer is still consistently leading the nation's cancer death rates. Although a decrease in tobacco-related cancer cases is being achieved, the challenge to drastically reduce its death toll is still as hard as it has always been before. With more and more people puffing cigarettes, lung or bronco cancer is still the leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women.

Dubbed as "the most common cancer", lung cancer is now the subject of numerous studies and experimentations in many countries with advance cancer research programs and facilities like the United Kingdom and Australia. A wider knowledge on lung cancer is now available. A classification has been made between Small Cell Lung Cancer and Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Small cell lung cancer is the case where in malignant cancer cells grow in the tissues of the lungs. Three types of Small Cell Lung Cancer are known: small cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and combined small cell carcinoma. Smoking, second hand smoking, and exposure to asbestos and radon are the known causes of Small Cell Lung Cancer. Current treatments do not successfully cure cases of Small Cell Lung Cancer. However, studies in Germany revealed that surgery (removal of cancer cells or tumor), systematic post-surgery chemotherapy, and sustained local treatments (e.g. *radiation therapy*) have a higher probability of curing this type of lung cancer.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, on the other hand, is the most common type of lung cancer. It accounts for four of every five deaths from lung cancer. There are several known types of Non-Small Lung Cancer, the three most common are the Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Large Cell Carcinoma, and Adenocarcinoma. The others are pleomorphic, carcinoid tumor, and salivary gland carcinoma. Like the other lung cancer type, Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer is mostly caused by smoking (first and second hand), high exposure to air pollution, and exposure to chemicals like asbestos, chromium, and arsenic.

In 2005, the New England Journal of Medicine reported a breakthrough in treatment for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. It reported that current studies reveal that chemotherapy, after the traditional Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer treatment of surgery, can increase the survival rate among patients. In a study, an overwhelming 15 percent increase of survival rate was recorded among patients who had chemotherapy after surgery. Sixty-nine percent of those who had post-surgery chemotherapy's were reported to be still alive five years after the surgery compared to the 54 percent who did not.

Furthermore, a study in Switzerland suggested an even greater breakthrough for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer treatment. The study proposed that in addition to chemotherapy, a combination of the innovative cancer drugs Tarceva and Avastin can lead to higher survival rate for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer patients. Tarceva is approved in the US and across the European Union for patients with unsuccessful cancer treatments through chemotherapy. Also in US and Europe, Avastin is a popular effective medicine for collorectal cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, and breast cancer. The proposed combination is seen to serve as a stronger combat against Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, especially for the recurring cases.

In the US, the Health and Human Services Department clearly targets the habit of smoking as the main antagonist in the fight against lung cancer. A propaganda campaign is almost everywhere to make Americans, if not totally quit, slowdown on smoking.