Bulgaria needs to improve detection of lung diseases: experts

Early detection of pulmonary diseases, such as lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), should be improved in Bulgaria in order to save lives, experts said.

“According to European data, 5 percent to 10 percent of the population in Bulgaria suffers from COPD, which means from 300,000 to 500,000 people,” Sofia Angelova, president of the country’s National Association for Prevention of Pulmonary Diseases, said at a press conference dedicated to World Lung Day.

However, according to figures from the National Health Insurance Fund, only 76,000 people were treated for COPD at the end of last year in Bulgaria.

“This means that we have many, many undiagnosed patients,” Angelova said.

Meanwhile, lung cancer cases, which accounted for 10 percent of the overall incidence of malignancy in Bulgaria, were diagnosed too late, she said.

Last year, during a prevention campaign with the participation of her association, 437 patients were examined and five cases of lung cancer were detected. But “they were in a late stage unfortunately,” Angelova said.

Alexander Simidchiev, chairman of the Association Air for Health, echoed that lung cancer is difficult to diagnose because the lung gives few symptoms.

“As a result, the diagnosis comes late and only 17 percent of people manage to survive for more than five years,” Simidchiev said.

To help solve the problem, he and his colleagues from several hospitals in Sofia would develop a program for early prevention of lung cancer next year that would include certain types of examinations, Simidchiev said.