November is the month of lung cancer awareness and people are educated about the causes and risks of the disease in this month.

Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers. In the West, it is the leading cause of cancer deaths both in males and females. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer put together.

Unfortunately, there are no proper cancer registries in Pakistan hence, the lack of comparative data. However, the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKMCH&RC) experience suggests there is an increasing number of cancer patients and majority of them is male. The predominance of lung cancer in our male population is due to prevalence of smoking.

Cigarette are the number one risk factor for lung cancer. Smoking is linked to 80-90 percent of lung cancer deaths. Other tobacco products like ‘pipe’, ‘cigar’ and ‘huka’ also increase the risk for lung cancer. Smokers are 15-30 times more likely to get lung cancer and die due to it, as compared to non-smokers. Even smoking a few cigarettes per day increases the risk of lung cancer. Other substances found at work places increase the risk of lung cancer. These include asbestos, silica, chromium, arsenic and Fidel exhaust.

At SKMCH&RC, there are state-of-the-art facilities for diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer. These include certain advanced diagnostic technologies such as EBUS Scope (only one in Pakistan), which help in diagnosing and staging of lung cancer. Before arrival of this technology, one had to go for thoracic surgery. PET CT is another test available. SKMCH&RC’s pulmonary function tests (PFT) lab is the only one in Pakistan which performs complete PFTs. There are dedicated surgeons that deal only with lung cancers. Similarly, there are cancer/radiation specialists, who also deal only with lung cancers.

Shaukat Khanum Hospital is the only centre in Pakistan, which is equipped with all modern equipment and expertise for the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer, compatible with any developed country.


The writer is a pulmonologist at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre.