What Are the Treatment Options for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer in India?

Adam Fitness


What Are the Treatment Options for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer in India?

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) is a serious condition where large abnormal cells grow in the lungs. Although the prognosis for NSCLC is comparatively better than that for SCLC, it can sneak up without showing many signs, so it's crucial to act fast and seek the best lung cancer treatment. Undetected NSCLC can severely mess with how your lungs work and cause issues such as persistent coughing and trouble breathing, and in the worst-case scenario, even lead to death. However, with modern treatments for NSCLC, from surgeries to immunotherapy, there is hope for patients and their loved ones. In this blog, we will introduce you to the major treatments available in India for non-small cell lung cancer, but first let’s learn how this cancer is diagnosed.

Non-small Cell Lung Cancer Diagnosis 

Diagnosing non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is difficult. In a lot of cases, it is detected during routine screenings. NSCLC diagnosis typically involves a combination of medical history review, physical examination, imaging studies, biopsy, and laboratory tests. Here is an overview of the common diagnostic methods:

Medical History and Physical Examination

  • Lung cancer specialists gather information about the symptoms, risk factors, and general health of the patient.
  • A physical examination is conducted to check for signs such as lung sounds, enlarged lymph nodes, or other abnormalities.

Imaging Studies

  • Chest X-ray: This may be the initial imaging study to identify abnormalities in the lungs.
  • CT Scan: CT scans provide detailed cross-sectional images of the chest and can help identify the size, location, and extent of tumours.
  • PET-CT Scan (Positron Emission Tomography): This test can help determine whether a lung nodule is cancerous and if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Tissue Collection

Some of the diagnostic tests involving tissue collection for lung cancer diagnosis include:

  • Biopsy: A biopsy is the definitive method for confirming the presence of cancer and determining its type. In this diagnostic test, a small amount of tissue from the patient is studied under the microscope.
  • Bronchoscopy: A thin, flexible tube with a camera is passed through the oral cavity into the lungs to collect small tissue samples.
  • Needle Biopsy (Fine-Needle Aspiration or Core Needle Biopsy): A thin, hollow needle is used to extract tissue from the lung for examination.
  • Thoracentesis: If there is pleural effusion (fluid around the linings of your chest and lungs), a sample may be taken for analysis.

Once the lung cancer diagnosis is complete and lung cancer is confirmed, doctors assess the cancer staging.

Non-small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment Options 

Non-small cell lung cancer treatment spans a diverse range of standards of care, each tailored to address the unique characteristics and stages of the disease in a patient. These treatments can be broadly categorised as:

1. Surgery for NSCLC

Surgery plays a pivotal role, especially in the early stages of NSCLC. It involves removing the tumour and, in some cases, surrounding tissues. Procedures like lobectomy (removing a whole lobe of the lung), segmentectomy, or wedge resection are common. Thoracic surgeons may also check and remove nearby lymph nodes to ensure no cancer cells are left behind.

2. Chemotherapy for NSCLC 

Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop cancer cells from growing or to eliminate them. It's a systemic lung cancer treatment, meaning it reaches cancer cells throughout the body. Whether given before surgery to shrink tumours, after surgery to mop up remaining cells, or in advanced stages, chemotherapy is a robust approach to tackle NSCLC.

3. Radiation Therapy for NSCLC 

Radiation therapy employs high-dose X-rays to target and destroy cancer cells. It can be used as a standalone treatment or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy. For stage 1 NSCLC, it's often used to shrink tumours before surgery or to manage the disease in situations where surgery isn't an option.

4. Targeted Therapy for NSCLC

Targeted therapies focus on specific molecules involved in cancer growth. These drugs are designed to precisely target and block these molecules, minimising damage to healthy cells. Targeted therapy is particularly effective in cases where specific genetic mutations or abnormalities are driving the growth of NSCLC. 

5. Immunotherapy for NSCLC 

Immunotherapy harnesses the body's immune system to fight cancer cells. Drugs that block immune pathways enhance the immune response, allowing it to recognise and attack cancer cells more effectively. Immunotherapy has shown good results in treating NSCLC, particularly in the advanced stages where targeted therapy doesn’t work.

6. Laser Therapy for NSCLC 

Laser therapy for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) uses focused light beams to target and destroy cancer cells. It's particularly effective in early-stage NSCLC and in alleviating airway blockages in advanced cases. By precisely directing the laser, oncologists aim to reduce tumour size, promote better respiratory function, and relieve lung cancer symptoms.

7. Cryotherapy for NSCLC 

Cryotherapy, a treatment for advanced stage lung cancer and non-eligible surgery candidates, freezes and destroys cancer cells in small lung tumours or lesions associated with NSCLC. This precise freezing process eliminates abnormal cells while preserving healthy tissue. Today, cryotherapy is considered to be an effective treatment in the fight against NSCLC.

8. Photodynamic Therapy for NSCLC 

Innovative in NSCLC treatment, photodynamic therapy uses light-sensitive drugs activated by laser light to selectively kill cancer cells. Effective for localised tumours, it complements other treatments, providing a targeted and less invasive alternative for patients of NSCLC.

9. Electrocautery for NSCLC

Electrocautery is a procedure in which electrical currents are used to heat and destroy cancer cells in NSCLC, especially when tumours obstruct air passages. Controlled electrical currents passed through an endoscope precisely target cancer cells, alleviating airway obstructions and improving the patient's quality of life. Effective not only in treating NSCLC but also in addressing symptoms, electrocautery plays a crucial role in managing respiratory well-being.


There are different ways to tackle Non Small Cell Lung Cancer, like surgery, radiation, and medication therapies such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. Some lesser-invasive newer treatments, like laser and freezing (cryotherapy), are also being used by oncologists. And there are clinical trials, too, for lung cancer treatments.

The best treatment plan for NSCLC will depend on a patient’s health, stage of cancer, age, financial situation, medical team's advice, and other factors. Consult an experienced lung cancer specialist in Delhi, India, and don’t shy away from discussing all the options with your doctor. Remember, each treatment is a fight towards a healthy future.


This article has been written for information purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice by a qualified doctor or other health care professional. The author is not responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any form of damages whatsoever resulting from the use (or misuse) of information contained in or implied by the information in this article. Always consult a qualified healthcare provider for accurate diagnosis, personalised treatment, and recommendations tailored to your individual health needs.


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