Lung Cancer in Pakistan and its Treatments

Written by Pliro
Jun 8, 2017 Last updated: Mar 29, 2019

Today, lung cancer is one of the major causes of death all over Pakistan. It is prevalent in men as well as women, smokers as well as non-smokers. What’s more is that the survival rate of lung cancer is extremely low. However, there is still hope as renowned institutions and hospitals are using the latest studies and advanced technical facilities to develop cures for this deadly disease. Let us look into the treatment methods that are taking place, as well as the preventive measures that we can take in order to eradicate lung cancer.

Raising Awareness

The first step in raising awareness regarding lung cancer is to provide adequate knowledge about its symptoms and effects. The knowledge that should follow is ways to prevent it from occurring, rather than finding treatment methods afterwards.

What It Is

Lung cancer occurs due to a rapid growth of cancer cells in the lung tissues. If not treated in time, these cells can multiply, or metastasize into other parts of the body. Furthermore, these cells form to create a tumor.


The main symptoms are experiencing shortness of breath or uncontrolled coughing. Coughing up phlegm or mucus with traces of blood is one of the most clear indications of lung cancer. However, these symptoms are very similar to those of tuberculosis. Dr Azhar Rasheed, Consultant Radiation Oncologist at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, expressed the need to be able to differentiate between cancer and TB. Additionally, chest infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia may occur. The voice may become deeper and hoarse. Swelling or pain in the face or neck is also experienced, and unexplained weight loss or appetite loss may occur.

Preventive Measures


Smoking is one of the main causes of lung cancer, and should be stopped first and foremost. If you have never smoked, don’t be tempted to and try to avoid people who smoke, at least while they are smoking. This is because even indirect or passive smoking may be equally dangerous for your health due to the cancer causing carcinogens found in tobacco smoke.

Diet and Lifestyle

Secondly, take care of your diet and make sure you take all the essential vitamins and nutrients that your body needs. Thirdly, get as much outdoor exercise as possible, in order to purify and increase oxygen levels inside the body.  Moreover, according to Dawn News, Dr Malcolm Moore, head of the Union for International Cancer Control in Korea, stressed on the need to adopt a healthy diet and lifestyle. Hence, make it a habit to get a routinely checkup in order to be aware of your health status.

Environment and Surroundings

Pakistan is a country where people breathe in contaminated air and drink unsanitary water. Therefore, it is equally essential that you take care of the environment that you surround yourself with, and keep your house clean and disinfected.

Treatment Methods


Several advancements have been made in the hopes to cure lung cancer, or to improve potential life expectancy of cancer patients. Out of these methods, surgery remains the most common forms of treatment to this day. Hereby, the tumor is surgically removed, along with the surrounding tissue. However, surgery is an invasive process whereby the rest of the body is susceptible to harm. It may result in infections and immense pain in some cases. Institutions like Aga Khan University Hospital offer less invasive surgeries like Mediastinoscopy or Video Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery whereby the cancer is staged by biopsying lymph nodes.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is also used in some cases, whereby high energy X-rays or particles are used to kill cancer cells. Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital uses Brachytherapy or Internal Radiotherapy, whereby radioactive seeds are placed meticulously inside cancerous tissue. They are then able to attack the cancer efficiently. Jinnah Hospital in Karachi has recently started to operate with the cyber-knife to treat patients who can’t afford treatment for free. Cyber-knife uses special radiotherapy technique operated by a robot. It is a two-hour procedure which targets cancerous tumor without affecting the surrounding healthy tissue.


Furthermore, in many cases chemotherapy is also required. This arduous procedure requires anti-cancer drugs to be taken either intravenously or orally. It is especially effective if the cells have metastasized.

Targeted Therapy

Lastly, targeted therapy may be used, whereby the cancer’s specific genes, proteins or tissue environment are targeted. This treatment prevents further growth of cancer cells. This process, though, is still said to be under trail.

All in all, many efforts have been made and are still being made in order to cure lung cancer. The chances of curing this ailment may be bleak, but are still present, and that is what’s important.

If your symptoms aggravate, it is suggested that you visit a pulmnologist.