Lung Cancer Treatment In India

Lung cancer treatment in India refers back to the various medical facilities and treatments to be had for the management and prevention of lung cancer insidethe country. Lung cancer is an extreme and regularly existence-threatening disease characterized by the out-of-control growth of strange cells within the lungs. In India, as in many other nations, lung cancer is a main health problem, with some cases diagnosed every 12 months. Lung cancer is expected to cause approximately 2 million deaths within a year.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 238,340 people (117,550 men and 120,790 women) will be diagnosed with lung cancer, and 127,070 people will die from the disease in 2023. In India, it is 70,275. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, responsible for about 85% of cases in the United States. NSCLC accounts for approximately 85% of all lung cancer cases, while SCLC comprises about 10-15%.

What is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the lungs. It occurs when cells in the lungs undergo abnormal changes and begin to grow and divide uncontrollably, forming tumors. These tumors can interfere with the normal functioning of the lungs, affecting breathing and the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide and is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths.

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, but non-smokers can also develop the disease due to factors such as exposure to secondhand smoke, environmental pollutants, and genetic predisposition. Symptoms of lung cancer may include persistent cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing up blood, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss.

There are two main types of lung cancer:

What is Lung Cancer
What is Lung Cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for about 85% of all lung cancer cases. It’s a heterogeneous group of lung cancers that differ in their histology, molecular characteristics, and clinical behavior.
  • NSCLC usually grows and spreads more slowly than small-cell lung cancer (SCLC). Furthermore, it is divided into subtypes, mainly adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.
  • Symptoms of NSCLC may include persistent cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing up blood, fatigue, unintended weight loss, and recurring respiratory infections.

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)

  • Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a type of lung cancer that typically grows and spreads more rapidly than non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). It accounts for about 10-15% of all lung cancer cases and is often associated with a history of smoking.
  • SCLC is characterized by small, oat-shaped cancer cells that multiply quickly and grow to form large tumors in the lungs. Due to its aggressive nature, SCLC is often diagnosed at more advanced stages when it has already spread to other parts of the body.
  • Symptoms of small cell lung cancer may include persistent cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing up blood, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss, similar to those of NSCLC. However, because SCLC tends to grow rapidly, symptoms may appear more suddenly and progress more rapidly.

Types of Lung Cancer Treatments

Lung cancer treatment is a significant health concern globally, including in India. In India, lung cancer is one of the most common Lung Cancer Treatment In India among men and the third most common among women. Several factors contribute to the prevalence of lung cancer in India, including high rates of tobacco smoking, exposure to environmental pollutants, and indoor air pollution due to biomass fuel use for cooking in rural areas.

There are several types of lung cancer, classified based on the type of cells in which the cancer originates.The main types include:

Types of Lung Cancer
Types of Lung Cancer

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)

This is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for around 85% of all cases. NSCLC includes several subtypes, such as adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma. Adenocarcinoma is the most prevalent subtype, particularly among non-smokers and women.

Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) 

This type of lung cancer accounts for about 15% of cases. It tends to grow and spread more rapidly than NSCLC. SCLC is strongly associated with tobacco smoking, and it is less common among non-smokers.

Other Rare Types

These include carcinoid tumors, which are slow-growing neuroendocrine tumors, and mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs and is often associated with asbestos exposure.

Early detection and timely treatment are crucial for improving the prognosis of lung cancer. However, in India, many cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage due to a lack of awareness, limited access to healthcare facilities, and challenges in implementing screening programs.

Causes of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is often caused by a combination of genetic factors and exposure to substances that are harmful to the lungs. 

Causes of Lung Cancer
Causes of Lung Cancer


This is the leading cause of lung cancer. Cigarette smoke contains numerous carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) that damage lung cells over time. Even exposure to secondhand smoke can increase the risk.

Tobacco smoke contains thousands of carcinogenic chemicals, including benzene, formaldehyde, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which damage the DNA in lung cells, leading to mutations that promote the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells. Additionally, the tar particles present in smoke settle in the lungs, causing chronic inflammation and damage to lung tissue. This chronic irritation can give rise to precancerous lesions, which, if left unchecked, can progress to malignant tumors.

Radon Gas

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can seep into homes through cracks in the foundation. Long exposure to high levels of radon can increase the risk of lung cancer, particularly in smokers.

Long radon exposure can also cause irritation and inflammation in the lungs, further increasing the risk of cellular damage and cancer. Particularly concerning is the synergy between radon exposure and smoking, as smoking weakens lung defenses and exacerbates radon-induced damage, significantly elevating the risk of lung cancer.

The duration and intensity of exposure, as well as indoor concentrations influenced by ventilation and geographical factors, play crucial roles in determining the degree of risk.

Occupational Exposure

Exposure to certain substances in the workplace, such as asbestos, arsenic, uranium, and some industrial chemicals, can increase the risk of lung cancer.

Inhalation of these carcinogens can lead to cellular damage in the lungs, initiating the development of cancerous tumors over time. Additionally, some occupations involve exposure to radiation, such as uranium mining or working in nuclear power plants, which can also contribute to lung cancer risk. The duration and intensity of exposure, as well as the use of protective equipment and workplace safety measures, play crucial roles in determining the level of risk.

Air Pollution

Long-term exposure to air pollution, particularly from vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, and indoor pollutants, can contribute to the development of lung cancer.

Fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other pollutants present in polluted air can penetrate deep into the lungs, causing inflammation, oxidative stress, and DNA damage in lung cells. Prolonged exposure to these pollutants has been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer, especially among urban residents and individuals living near industrial areas or busy roadways.

Genetic Factors

While most cases of lung cancer are associated with environmental factors, there can be a genetic predisposition to the disease. Certain genetic mutations may increase the risk of developing lung cancer, especially in non-smokers.

Inherited genetic mutations, such as those in genes involved in DNA repair mechanisms or tumor suppressor genes like TP53, BRCA1, and BRCA2, can increase the risk of lung cancer. These mutations may impair the body’s ability to repair damaged DNA or regulate cell growth effectively, leading to the accumulation of genetic abnormalities and the eventual formation of cancerous tumors.

Family History

People with a family history of lung cancer may have an increased risk themselves, although it’s not entirely clear if this is due to shared environmental factors, genetic factors, or a combination of both.

While smoking remains the primary cause of lung cancer, genetic factors can also influence an individual’s susceptibility to the disease, and a family history of lung cancer suggests a shared genetic prejudgment within the family. Inherited genetic mutations or variations in genes associated with DNA repair, cell growth regulation, and detoxification of carcinogens may increase the risk of developing lung cancer.

Diet and Lifestyle Factors

While not as significant as smoking or environmental exposures, certain dietary factors (such as a diet low in fruits and vegetables) and lifestyle choices (such as lack of exercise) may play a role in increasing the risk of lung cancer.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

The symptoms of lung cancer can vary depending on the type of lung cancer, its location within the lungs, and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
  1. Constant Cough: A cough that doesn’t go away or worsens over time is a common symptom of lung cancer. It may produce blood or sputum (phlegm).
  2. Shortness of Breath: Lung cancer can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, or difficulty breathing, particularly with physical activity or exertion.
  3. Chest Pain: Chest pain that is persistent and worsens with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing may be a symptom of lung cancer. The pain may be dull, aching, or sharp.
  4. Hoarseness: Lung cancer can affect the nerves that control the vocal cords, leading to hoarseness or changes in voice.
  5. Unexplained Weight Loss: Significant and unexplained weight loss without changes in diet or exercise habits may be a symptom of advanced lung cancer.
  6. Fatigue: Feeling tired or weak, even after adequate rest, can be a symptom of lung cancer, especially as the disease progresses.
  7. Loss of Appetite: Lung cancer can cause a loss of appetite, leading to unintentional weight loss.
  8. Coughing Up Blood:  It is also known as hemoptysis, coughing up blood can be a symptom of lung cancer, though it can also be caused by other conditions.
  9. Wheezing: Wheezing or a whistling sound when breathing can occur if lung cancer blocks or narrows an airway.
  10. Repeated Respiratory Infections: Lung cancer can make a person more susceptible to respiratory infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

Cost of Lung Cancer Treatment in India

The cost of lung cancer treatment in India can vary depending on several factors. Including the stage of cancer, the type of treatment required, the hospital or healthcare facility chosen, and any additional medical complications. Generally, treatment options for lung cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, or a combination of these approaches.

The cost of surgery can range from approximately ₹2,00,000 to ₹5,00,000 or more. While chemotherapy sessions may cost between ₹50,000 to ₹1,00,000 per cycle. Radiation therapy expenses can vary widely depending on the number of sessions required, with costs ranging from ₹1,00,000 to ₹3,00,000 or more. Targeted therapy and immunotherapy are relatively newer and more specialized treatments. It can be more expensive, typically ranging from ₹1,00,000 to ₹3,00,000 per session.

Patients must consult with doctors to understand their specific treatment plan and associated costs. As well as to explore any available financial assistance or insurance coverage options.

Factors affecting the cost of Lung Cancer Treatment in India

Several factors can influence the cost of lung cancer treatment in India:

Stage of Cancer
Stage of Cancer

Stage of Cancer

The stage at which lung cancer is diagnosed significantly impacts treatment costs. Early-stage cancer may require less intensive treatment compared to advanced-stage cancer. Which often necessitates more extensive therapies such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.

Type of Treatment

The specific treatment modalities employed, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy, can vary in cost. Some treatments, like targeted therapy and immunotherapy, tend to be more expensive due to their specialized nature and the use of advanced drugs.

Hospital or Healthcare Facility: 

The choice of hospital or healthcare facility can also influence treatment costs. Private hospitals and specialized cancer centers may charge higher fees compared to public hospitals. but they may offer more advanced treatment options and amenities.

Medical Professionals’ Fees

The fees of oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, and other medical professionals involved in the treatment process contribute to the overall cost. Highly experienced specialists may charge higher consultation and procedural fees.

Diagnostic Tests and Imaging:

Diagnostic procedures, including biopsies, CT scans, PET scans, and MRI scans, are essential for diagnosing and staging lung cancer. The frequency and type of diagnostic tests required can impact treatment expenses.

Medication Costs

The cost of medications, including chemotherapy drugs, targeted therapy agents, immunotherapy drugs, pain management medications, and supportive care drugs, can significantly contribute to the overall treatment cost.

Duration and Complexity of Treatment: 

The duration and complexity of treatment influence costs. Longer treatment durations, multiple cycles of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and complex surgical procedures can increase expenses.

Additional Medical Services: 

Patients may require additional medical services such as rehabilitation, palliative care, nutritional support, or psychological counseling, which can add to the overall cost of treatment.

Geographical Location: 

Treatment costs can vary across different regions of India due to differences in healthcare infrastructure, availability of medical facilities, and cost of living.

Insurance Coverage and Financial Assistance:

The extent of insurance coverage and availability of financial assistance programs can mitigate treatment costs for patients. Those with comprehensive health insurance plans or access to government-sponsored healthcare schemes may have lower out-of-pocket expenses. 


India offers a comprehensive range of advanced treatment options for lung cancer, backed by state-of-the-art facilities and experienced medical professionals. From surgery to radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy, patients have access to personalized treatment plans tailored to their unique needs. Additionally, the affordability of treatment in India makes it an attractive option for patients seeking high-quality care at a fraction of the cost compared to many Western countries. With ongoing advancements in medical technology and research, the landscape of lung cancer treatment in India continues to evolve, offering hope and improved outcomes for patients battling this challenging disease.

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