Lung cancer on the rise in Myanmar

A man smokes a cigarette in downtown Yangon on Monday. Nyan Zay Htet/The Myanmar Times
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A man smokes a cigarette in downtown Yangon on Monday. Nyan Zay Htet/The Myanmar Times

A man smokes a cigarette in downtown Yangon on Monday. Nyan Zay Htet/The Myanmar Times
A man smokes a cigarette in downtown Yangon on Monday. Nyan Zay Htet/The Myanmar Times

Over 80 percent of patients who suffer lung cancer smoke or use other tobacco products, says a senior doctor at the Yangon Speciality Hospital.

“The main risk factor that causes lung cancer is smoking. Other factors such as air pollution and contaminants from heavy industry can also be causes of lung cancer,” Professor Win Naing, head of the Department of Respiratory Medicine at the 500-bed hospital, said on Friday.

He says that between 150 and 200 patients visit the department every month to undergo a bronchoscopy to examine their lungs, and over 80pc are found to have some stage of lung cancer.

He added that, based on the records of the Department of Respiratory Medicine, out of 150 patients a month who undergo another procedure called thoracocentesis, an invasive procedure to remove fluid or air for diagnostic purposes, a third of the patients are found to be suffering lung cancer.

The age of the patients can range anywhere from 20 to around 80 years, with most patients aged between 40 and 60, their prime productive years.

Alarmingly one in 20 patients develops cancer as a result of secondary smoke, the department’s records show.

“The most common secondary smokers are women. Even though they might not be smokers, one or more members of their families usually smokes,” U Win Naing said.

There are 1.1 billion adult smokers in the world and over 7 million deaths each year caused by tobacco, according to the World Health Organization. Over 80pc of tobacco smokers live in low- and middle-income countries, and the number of smokers is on the rise in low-income countries.


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