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Why is Chemotherapy so Expensive?

Chemotherapy is expensive - this is a widely known fact, but what is not known is ‘why?’.


Chemotherapy, or 'chemo', is the use of chemical substances to treat diseases. The word "chemotherapy" is often used for a type of medicine used to treat cancer.


Chemotherapy is one of the most common cancer treatments. Depending on the drug and type of cancer it treats, the average monthly cost of chemo drugs can range from $1,000 to $12,000.


If a cancer patient requires four chemo sessions a year, it could cost them up to $48,000 total, which is beyond the average annual income. Even after premiums and deductibles of health insurance are met, this person could be responsible for more than $10,000 a year in out-of-pocket costs with coinsurance.


Cost of Chemotherapy

In India,

  • Cost per cycle: Up to Rs 80,000

  • Total average cost (10 cycles): Rs 8 lakh

The average cost of chemotherapy in the U.S.A. is approximately $150,000.


However, we must take into account various factors, including insurance, types of cancer, etc.


Factors affecting Chemotherapy Costs

  • Type of cancer. The type of cancer will determine what kind of chemo treatment you need.

  • Stage of disease. Typically, treating early-stage cancer costs less than advanced-stage cancers.

  • The number of treatments. The more doses you need, the more chemo will cost.

  • Duration of treatment. The length of your treatment plan is also a factor.

  • Type of chemotherapy. Chemo can be taken by mouth or intravenously. It can also be injected into the skin, artery, or tumour.

  • Treatment setting. Depending on the type of chemo, you may receive it at home or in a clinic, office, or hospital.

  • Geographic location. Chemotherapy costs are usually higher in areas with high living costs.

  • Side effects. If you experience side effects due to chemotherapy, you may need additional treatment. This can increase the overall cost of chemo.


Factors affecting chemotherapy costs in India

  • The hospital, the patient chooses

  • The cost of chemotherapy depends on the drugs given, stage of cancer, number of cycles and administering type, etc.

  • Fee for the team of specialists

  • Standard test and diagnostic procedures

  • Cost of the follow–up care required after chemotherapy


Understanding of Chemotherapy Costs

  • This is an outpatient treatment procedure that usually lasts between half an hour to two hours.

  • The treatment cost is dependent on several factors such as the type or class of drugs administered, type of cancer, stage of cancer, treatment plan, drug dosage, etc all of which directly contribute to the chemotherapy cost.

  • The price involves pre as well as post-treatment costs.

  • Pre-chemotherapy cost includes doctor consultation fees, lab test(s) and diagnostic test(s) charges.

  • Post-chemotherapy costs mostly include costs for medications to counteract the side effects of drugs.

  • Depending on the stage of the disease, the number of sessions is decided for each patient which will further contribute to the total cost of the treatment regimen.

 

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