Lung cancer sufferers who don't smoke find help
Friday, September 12, 2014
The newly established ALK Lung Cancer Caring Group is advocating more help and attention for struggling patients.
The most effective treatment for anaplastic lymphoma kinase lung cancer is said to be targeted medication. However, such an approach comes at a high cost, ranging from HK$35,000 to HK$60,000 a month, for most patients.
ALK sufferers are usually non-smokers, with the lung cancer believed to be genetic.
Additionally, the group stresses that most patients require a lot of emotional support and counseling.
The median age for diagnosed ALK patients is 48.5 years, and coming down with cancer at that age affects their careers as well as family life. For example, a fourth-stage female patient, surnamed Chan, experienced huge financial and psychological burdens.
She suffered a great deal of stress and emotional trauma as a result of her illness. "Before seeking support from cancer groups, I was always depressed because I had the disease despite not being a smoker or drinker.""I could not afford targeted medication until recently because it is so expensive. The cost alone would exceed my salary, let alone my daily expenses," said Chan, who is 32 years old.
Patricia Poon Chu-mun, specialist in clinical oncology, said lung cancer due to genetic mutation often occurs in younger, non- smokers.
She said the median age for lung cancer sufferers is 66 and more than 90 percent of ALK patients are non-smokers.