Patients with lung cancer are often misdiagnosed as pulmonary tuberculosis leading to delay in the correct diagnosis : Dr. Manisha Singh


November : This month is all about raising awareness of lung cancer.

Patna : There are many similarities between Lung Cancer and Tuberculosis diseases like they both are very common, have high prevalence, involve lung parenchyma and above all, characterised by similar symptoms. Symptoms such as fever, cough, expectoration, hemoptysis, weight loss and anorexia are common to both tuberculosis and lung cancer. Patients with lung cancer are often misdiagnosed as pulmonary tuberculosis leading to delay in the correct diagnosis as well as exposure to inappropriate medication. Several factors are responsible for this situation some of them include lack of awareness, inadequate infrastructure and socio-economic factors.

Dr. Manisha Singh, renowned Oncologist and HOD (Chemotherapy), Mahavir Cancer Sansthan, Patna stated this while addressing a press conference organised here on Monday to mark the Lung Cancer Awareness Month (November). She said “In our country, where tuberculosis is spreading in an uncontrolled way, it is not uncommon to find a lung cancer patient being treated for tuberculosis initially. I come across as high as up to 75 per cent Lung Cancer patients who were getting Tuberculosis treatment. This causes crucial delay. Delay in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer results in poorer outcome and lower survival. However, age of the patient, history of smoking, mediastinal symptoms such as hoarseness of voice, Superior Vena Cava (SVC) obstruction, and dysphagia favor the diagnosis of lung cancer.”

Talking about common risk factors, Dirctor , Mahavir Cancer Hospital Dr. Vishwajeet Sanyal said smoking is the biggest factor. Cigarettes are packed with cancer-causing chemicals. They also disarm the lungs’ natural defense system. The airways are lined with tiny hairs called cilia. To protect the lungs, they sweep out toxins, bacteria, and viruses. Tobacco smoke stops the cilia from doing their job. This lets the cancer-causing chemicals build up.

“Exposure to radon gas, exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace, history of other lung diseases such as tuberculosis, family history of lung cancer, Cancer treatment for other types of cancer and lowered immune system also responsible for Lung Cancer,” she said.

He said “If we are to save more lives, we must first raise awareness about lung cancer and the availability of lung cancer screening. For entire November month we will be educating people about this deadly disease”.

Referring to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) report, Dr. Manisha said “India is likely to have over 17.3 lakh new cases of cancer and over 8.8 lakh deaths due to the disease by 2020 with cancers of breast, lung and cervix topping the list, a premier medical research body said today”.