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Cost of cancer treatment in India

By Dickens Luvanda
Cases of cancer are on the rise in Kenya and this will be the trend if the government does not come up with policies to arrest a disease that is ravaging families both emotionally and financially. Kenyans who can afford are seeking treatment abroad. In a rare admission by Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko, over 60 legislators are receiving cancer treatment. India has been the number one destination for Kenyans seeking cancer and other complicated diseases treatment abroad. Below is a breakdown of expenses you will accrue if you seek treatment in India.

Treatment expenses vary for different cancer patients

There are several known methods to treat cancer today: radiotherapy, chemotherapy, surgery, and transplant and each of these treatment methods use different drugs, equipment, time, resources and expertise.

For that reason, they all come with different financial implications.

Additionally, the patient’s medical history and his/her response to the treatment also affects the cost of treatment.

Take for instance radiation, that can cost anything between Rs 10 lakhs (Ksh1.5 million) to 20 lakhs (Ksh3 million).

Chemotherapy on the other hand, may cost upwards of Rs 65,000 (Ksh98,579) per session, meaning that an average six sessions would add up to Rs 1,95,000 (Ksh295,737)

It should be noted that in many cancer cases, radiation and chemotherapy are given as a combination. Here, the patient will incur the cost of both methods of treatment.

Transplants on the other hand, is far more costly. A kidney transplant may cost anything between 5 lakhs (Ksh758,367) to 25 lakhs (Ksh3.7 million) while a bone marrow transplant would be between 25 lakhs to 50 lakhs (Ksh7.5 million).

A heart transplant may be from Ksh1.5 million to 30 lakhs (Ksh4.5 million), and a liver transplant may be priced between 15 lakhs to 25 lakhs.

Type of Cancer
The type of cancer that a patient may be suffering from affects the cost of its treatment but medication, procedures, relapse rate, and rehabilitation period may be different for the different types of cancer.

The most common cancer experienced today are lung cancer, prostate and oral cancer in men, and breast cancer and cervical cancer in women. Colorectal cancer is on rise too.

A report by the Economic Times estimated that the below bills were the average costs of treatment for different types of cancer in India as of 2015:

Lung cancer – Ksh682,203

Oral cancer – Ksh652,718

Breast cancer – Ksh858,367

Cervical cancer – Ksh758,367

Colorectal cancer – Ksh758,367

The given figures may vary in different health facilities a patient is seeking services from and the duration of treatment.

Cancer that is diagnosed at its early stages may have a higher rate of treatment success, than those that are diagnosed later.

Statistics indicate 46%of cancer patients are diagnosed at the second stage or earlier, while 18% are diagnosed in the third and fourth stage.

However, the time of diagnosis may not matter in cases where patients deliberately delay getting treated due to financial restrictions.

Another factor that affects the cost of treatment is the time duration that the medical team or oncologist suggests for treatment.

For instance, some may need 4-5 chemotherapy/radiation cycles, while more severe cases may need more cycles over a longer period of time.

Durations of treatment also factor in rehabilitation and recovery period/postoperative care.

While the risk of dying from cancer before the age of 75 years is only 7.1%, according to Globocan 2012, an international cancer research project, insurers claim that one in five cancer claims is by those between 36 and 45 years of age.

This means that the disease is set to disrupt the family’s finances due to the loss of a breadwinner. Next