Finding out that you or someone from your family has cancer can be a very traumatic time. If you currently have cancer or know someone who has cancer, you might have been recommended chemotherapy as a means of treatment.
What is chemotherapy? What is the cost of chemotherapy? are there any factors that affect the cost of chemotherapy? If these are the questions coursing through your mind, then you are at the right place! We shall cover all those topics to help you understand the costs involved. Firstly let’s start by understanding-
What is Chemotherapy?
To make understanding it easier, The word “chemotherapy” can be broken down into two parts chemo- meaning the drugs used to treat cancer and therapy- meaning the treatment given to relieve someone of diseases; joining these two together, we get chemotherapy, i.e., the treatment for cancer done using cancer-treating drugs.
Chemotherapy can be of various kinds, and for various purposes, chemotherapy can be done to cure cancer, slow down the spread of cancer and inhibit its growth, or relieve one of the symptoms caused by cancer. The decision for the drugs that will be administered to you will be taken by your oncologist (doctors who specialize in treating cancer). It will be based on various factors like the type of cancer and the stage at which it is, among others.
How much does chemotherapy usually cost?
It can range from 3000 to 50,000 rupees per cycle. This cost is affected by a lot of factors that have been listed below for your convenience. The average cost of Chemotherapy in India is INR Rs. 18,000 to 20,000.
Type of Cancer
The type of cancer will play an essential role in determining how much you might have to pay for your chemotherapy. This is because different types of cancer will require different types of chemotherapy.
Suppose you have cancer that has been prescribed a treatment with a high focus on chemotherapy. In that case, you may be charged more than a person with a treatment plan that involves less focus on chemotherapy and more on other modes of treatment like radiation therapy or surgery.
Severity of cancer
Cancer has stages. As the disease progresses through the stages, the severity of the disease will increase the amount of treatment required, affecting the cost of treatment directly.
Suppose your cancer is at stage I – II. In that case, your treatment cost will be significantly lower as the cancer is still at its early stages, and the chances are high that it will respond to standard treatment. When the cancer has progressed to the advanced stages III-IV, the dosage of your treatment will have to be increased, which in turn will increase the cost of chemotherapy.
5 Type of Chemotherapy
Your oncologist will prescribe the type of chemotherapy based on your cancer type and the stage. The type of chemotherapy is based on the mode of administration; there are mainly five ways- oral, intravenous, injection, direct placement in the affected area, and topical. The types of chemotherapy have been elaborated below with their costs to help you get a clear picture-
the most common method of chemotherapy; in this, the drugs are given to you orally in the form of tablets or liquids. The cost of oral chemotherapy can reach upto 70,000 rupees per cycle.
Many drugs need to be injected directly into the veins to be effective. This method can be continuous or in cycles based on your requirement. Intravenous chemotherapy can cost between 70,000 to 1,00,000 rupees per cycle of treatment.
when the chemotherapy drugs are injected into your body, they are known as injected chemotherapy. The injections can be given in places like the abdomen, arms, thighs, etc. The place where you have cancer will decide the point of injection. The cost of undergoing chemotherapy through injections can be between 50,000 – 70,000 rupees.
For some cancers, it is required that the chemotherapy be administered directly to the tumor to be most effective. In such cases, the chemotherapy is delivered directly to the tumor by using a catheter. The cost of undergoing direct chemotherapy can range between 70,000 – and 1,00,000 rupees.
For some types of cancers like skin cancer, you will have to apply medicine to the directly affected area; this is known as topical chemotherapy and will mainly involve creams and lotions. The cost of this can range between 50,000- 70,000 rupees per cycle.
Course of treatment
Chemotherapy involves administering drugs, but it is not similar to how you would take drugs when prescribed for a typical cold or cough. Chemotherapy involves the use of strong drugs that kill the cancer cells; hence these drugs tire out the body, and after a dosage, the body needs time to regenerate and heal to get ready for the next dose; hence chemotherapy is administered in cycles.
Your oncologist will decide your course of treatment based on the type of cancer, its severity, and the location. The whole course of your treatment may be spread over 3- 6 months with about 4- 8 cycles of chemotherapy. You will have to pay between 5000- 50,000 rupees per cycle; hence the more the number of cycles prescribed for you, the more you will be the cost.
The type of hospital that you choose will affect the cost of your chemotherapy. There are mainly two types of hospitals – private and public. The public hospitals receive their funding from the government hence might be cheaper than their private counterparts who receive no such funding.
The place where your hospital is situated will also affect the price. Hospitals located in major metropolitan cities will charge a higher amount to match the price charged by the competitors compared to hospitals situated in semi-urban or rural areas.
A hospital filled with amenities offering top-of-class facilities will naturally charge a higher price than a hospital that is still working on outdated equipment. But when choosing a hospital, it will be advisable to go with the one that offers higher amenities to ensure you get the highest level of treatment.
Before undergoing chemotherapy, your doctor will make sure that your body can take the strain caused by the high strength medicines used in it; hence they will perform tests like- blood tests, x-ray, PET Scan, CT scans, physical examinations, and any other test as the doctor sees fit. In total, all of these tests should cost you between 15,000- 20,000 rupees.
Your oncologist will have to be paid a fee for their services. An oncologist can charge between 500- 2000 rupees as their consultation fees and, further, can charge 5000- 10,000 rupees during your treatment.
Cost of accompanying treatment
Usually, while treating cancer, your oncologist will have to club chemotherapy with various other forms of treatments like radiotherapy, surgery, etc. You should also consider the cost of these treatments if you are trying to estimate how much your whole cancer treatment can cost.
Cost of medicines to counter side effects
Many side effects accompany chemotherapy; the most common ones are – baldness, constipation, body ache, and nausea, among others. The doctor will prescribe you medicines to counter these, which will have a cost.
Post chemotherapy cost
After chemotherapy, the doctor will still have to perform tests to gauge your body’s reaction to chemotherapy. These tests can be electrocardiograms, lung tests, echocardiograms, urine tests, blood tests, etc. All of these tests can cost you upto 10,000 rupees in total.
Cost of Hospitalization
Chemotherapy can take upto a few hours and may sometimes require hospitalization. Based on the hospital room and the type of hospital you choose, your stay can cost between 500- 10,000 rupees per day.
Question 1: Is chemotherapy painful?
Answer: No, chemotherapy does not cause any physical pain directly, but the side effects caused due to chemotherapy can affect the physical and mental well-being and can sometimes be taxing.
Question 2: Are all the side effects caused by chemotherapy permanent?
Answer: No, The side effects caused by chemotherapy, like baldness, body ache, etc., will be reversed mostly after 2-3 weeks of completing the course. Still, some side effects like the ones caused to the heart, kidneys, or fertility might be irreversible.
Consult your oncologist about your prescribed chemotherapy course’s permanent and temporary side effects to get a more precise idea.
Finding out you have cancer and availing of treatment can cause a lot of stress, but the confusion regarding the costs involved should not cause more stress. After reading this article, now you know what chemotherapy is, its types, cost, and the factors that affect the cost; this will help you get an idea of how much you might have to spend on chemotherapy.
In the comments, let us know which point was the most beneficial according to you!