In honour of World No Tobacco Day by the World Health Organization (WHO), Roche Thailand is committed to promoting early lung cancer screening, with a particular focus on women, who accounted for more than 8,300 cases, or approximately 35%, of all new lung cancer patients in Thailand in 2022[1]. This initiative seeks to heighten public

In honour of World No Tobacco Day by the World Health Organization (WHO), Roche Thailand is committed to promoting early lung cancer screening, with a particular focus on women, who accounted for more than 8,300 cases, or approximately 35%, of all new lung cancer patients in Thailand in 2022[1]. This initiative seeks to heighten public awareness of the dangers and health implications of lung cancer, aiming to reduce mortality rates and enhance the prospects for successful treatments.

Statistical[2] forecasts indicate that by 2030, within the next six years, there will be over 11,200 new cases of lung cancer among Thai women, representing an approximate 35% increase from the 8,300 new cases recorded in 2022. The escalating number of lung cancer patients reflects the proliferation of risk factors beyond smoking, including alcohol consumption, air pollution, and significant factors such as genetic mutations, which also contribute to this disease.

Recent research has revealed that genetic mutations, such as those in the EGFR (Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor) gene prevalent in the Asian population, can lead to lung cancer unrelated to smoking behaviour. Studies suggest that approximately 30-40% of lung cancer patients in Asia exhibit mutations in the EGFR gene, a significantly higher rate than observed in Western populations[3].

Chitnipa Pakdee (Oil), a stage IV lung cancer patient, stated, “I was diagnosed with lung cancer caused by a genetic mutation on 24 March 2020, with the cancer having spread throughout both lungs. Following initial treatment with targeted therapy for 17 months, I developed resistance to the medication. Consequently, I commenced a second targeted therapy for another 17 months and again became resistant. Subsequently, I switched to chemotherapy in March 2023 and have since completed a total of 13 chemotherapy cycles over exactly one year (March 2024).”

Bella Sirintip Kudtiyakarn, a former end-stage lymphoma cancer patient and President of the Thai Cancer Society, commented, “Lung cancer today is not solely caused by smoking. Current trends indicate occurrences among women or individuals under 30 who have never smoked or been exposed to second-hand smoke. This statistic is particularly concerning. Therefore, we, as a patient group, now recognise the importance of self-care. If patients experience symptoms such as chronic coughing or fatigue, they should promptly consult a doctor to determine whether they have an infection or lung cancer, even without a history of smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke. Another crucial aspect is raising societal awareness that lung cancer today is not necessarily a death sentence. Early detection and genetic testing enable us to plan appropriate treatment with our doctors.”

Dr. Sansanee Lerdlitruangsin, Country Medical Director of Roche Thailand, stated, “Roche is dedicated to researching and advancing technologies for treating various cancers, including lung cancer. Currently, there are three main treatment options apart from radiation and surgery: chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. Chemotherapy effectively kills rapidly dividing cancer cells but often comes with side effects such as nausea, fatigue, and hair loss. Targeted therapy aims to address specific genetic mutations associated with cancer, minimising damage to regular cells. However, it may cause side effects such as skin rashes, weakness, and inflammation of the mouth and throat. Immunotherapy boosts the body’s immune system to combat cancer, showing promising results but also potential side effects such as skin rashes, flu-like symptoms, and severe immune-related adverse effects. If patients experience early warning signs such as chronic coughing without a known cause, blood-tinged sputum, unexplained weight loss, or difficulty breathing and persistent fatigue, they should promptly seek medical advice for an accurate diagnosis.”

Regarding treatment options, Oil remarked, “For stage IV lung cancer, the doctor will conduct tests to determine the type. In my case, it was a mutation in the EGFR gene which can be treated by targeted therapy. There are currently different types of treatments available targeting EGFR mutations. The doctor will start with the first EGFR-targeted therapy and if the patient becomes resistant, they will switch to the next treatment.”

On World No Tobacco Day, Roche Thailand aims to raise awareness and understanding among Thais that lung cancer is not exclusive to men or smokers. With early and appropriate screening and treatment, lung cancer can be curable, especially in its early stages.

For more information on lung cancer, please visit:

Thai Cancer Society at https://thaicancersociety.com/ or via Facebook @thaicancersociety

Lung and Me at https://www.lungandme.com/ or via Facebook @lungandme

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