Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing and dividing. Chemotherapy drugs work by attacking cells that divide rapidly, which is a common characteristic of cancer cells. These drugs are usually given intravenously (through a vein) or orally (by mouth) and are absorbed into the bloodstream, where they can travel throughout the body to reach cancer cells.
Chemotherapy is used to treat different types and stages of cancer, and it can be used alone or in combination with other cancer treatments, such as surgery or radiation therapy. The goals of chemotherapy may include curing cancer, slowing down its growth and spread, or providing relief from symptoms.
While chemotherapy drugs target cancer cells, they can also affect normal cells that divide rapidly, such as those in the hair follicles, bone marrow, and digestive tract. This can lead to side effects such as hair loss, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and a weakened immune system. However, these side effects are usually temporary and can be managed with medications and lifestyle adjustments.
We know that Chemotherapy demands an aggressive form of chemical drugs which shrink the tumour’s size and obliterates the rapidly growing cells in a body. Chemotherapy is not a one day process and it happens in multiple sessions and might have adverse reactions as well, which is generally rare but chances are always there. However, if a doctor has recommended a person chemotherapy sessions it this means that the benefits are likely to outweigh any adverse effects that may occur due to the radiations. Before going for chemo sessions the doctors also advice that chemotherapy is sometimes not only a part of the treatment but sometimes the overall treatment depends on chemotherapy only which includes surgeries and radiation therapies. It is generally observed that chemotherapy generally is effective however it also depends on the stage of cancer.
So, it all implies that the cost of chemotherapy sessions depends on the stages of cancer, the no. of chemotherapy sessions. The exact amount can be determined after the doctor finds out the no of chemo sessions which are to be conducted but on the average basis, it is seen that chemo sessions take at least Rs.5,00,000 ( $7,000) to Rs. 21,45,600 ($30,000). Generally, it ranges from Rs.50, 000-Rs.80, 000 (650-1100 USD) per cycle. It entirely depends upon the no of chemotherapy sessions recommended by the doctor depending on the stage of cancer and other concerned factors.
If we compare the overall cost of chemotherapy sessions, India is one those countries which are offering advanced treatment at very minimal rates and at least five hundred per cent cheaper than countries like United States and United Kingdom.
According to a report published in the Economics Times www.economictimesindiatimes.com, “For instance, the average cost of treatment for breast cancer through a private practitioner would be Rs 5-6 lacks, including investigations, surgery and radiotherapy. However, with targeted therapy, six cycles of chemotherapy can cost up to Rs 20 lacks.”
We can determine the cost of chemotherapy in India by two case studies published on famous portals. According to a report published in www.spicyip.com “(I) Male Patient, 65 years, diagnosed with lung cancer with metastasis to the brain i.e. cancer had spread to the brain at the time of diagnosis. Just the cost of diagnostics for this patient i.e. CT Scans, PET Scans, MRIs for the brain, FNAC, biopsy and other diagnostics came up to almost Rs. 1,00,000 (Rs. 1 lacks). Post the diagnosis, the oncologist prescribed the following treatment: 6 cycles of chemotherapy + radiation for about 27-28 days. Each chemotherapy session, consisting of only generic medicines, cost up to Rs. 57,000 (approx.) plus there was the supportive medicine which is necessary for chemotherapy patients who usually suffer from an extremely low count of white blood cells as a result of the chemo drugs. In order to boost the WBC count, the oncologist had prescribed a dose of generic medicine manufactured by Dr Reddy, which was priced at around Rs. 8,800 (approx.) per dose. Therefore, each cycle of chemotherapy along with supporting medicine and diagnostics used to cost approximately Rs. 65,800. Six cycles would cost Rs. 3, 94,800. The radiation therapy comes in different ‘packages’ depending on the side-effects. Together, the two cycles of radiation for this particular patient cost approximately Rs. 2, 47,000. Therefore the total cost of the first battle with cancer was thus in the neighbourhood of approximately Rs. 6, 41,800.”
“(ii) Female patient, 60 years diagnosed with breast cancer confined to only one breast, with a previous history of breast cancer in the other breast. This time around the cancer was diagnosed as HER positive, a particular kind of cancer that can be treated quite effectively with Herceptin, a drug manufactured/marketed by Genentech/Roche and which has attained the reputation of a ‘wonder-drug’ in the field of cancer not only for its targeted action against cancer cells but also the lack of side-effects associated with conventional chemotherapy – namely lack of hair loss! Thanks to the invention of Herceptin, doctors predict that in the due course of events, HER+ breast cancer will witness a near cent per cent success rate. That was the good news. The bad news is that Herceptin is probably one of the most expensive drugs in the world, costing approximately Rs. 1, 10,000 for a vial of 440 mg. Depending on the weight of the patient, the normal course prescribed is around 17-19 doses spread over a period of one year. Cumulatively that comes to around Rs.18, 00,000-Rs.20, 00,000 per patient. The first six doses of Herceptin are usually given in tandem with conventional chemotherapy – the TCH treatment – the conventional chemotherapy done with generic medicines is approximately Rs. 22,000. The six cycles of chemotherapy plus the peg-gravel come up to Rs. 1, 80,000. Plus depending on the hospital that is treating you, there may be the added ‘chemotherapy charges’ which is levied by the hospital at rates ranging between 8% to 12% of the total cost of the pharmacy bill. When being treated with Herceptin, that 12% can add more than Rs. 10,000 to your bill. I think it is an unfair practice but then again who are you going to complain to? Added to the cost of chemotherapy is radiation, which can range between Rs. 150,000 to Rs. 275,000 depending on the package. Cumulatively, therefore, the cost of the treatment can cost approximately Rs. 20, 00,000 to Rs. 22, 00,000.”
By these two cases, we can come to the conclusion that chemotherapy costs would depend on the number of sessions of chemo, the stage of cancer, the cell division rate in the body and the drug being used in the process of chemotherapy and most importantly the type of cancer the patient is suffering with and the chemotherapeutic drug being used.
Doxorubicin (Adriamycin) – It is one of the most powerful chemotherapy drugs ever invented. It can kill cancer cells at every point in their life cycle, and it’s used to treat a wide variety of cancers. Unfortunately, the drug can also damage heart cells, so a patient can’t take it indefinitely.
Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) – It is a drug that can treat many different cancers. Like many other chemotherapy drugs, it scrambles the DNA of cancer cells. Because it damages healthy DNA too, it can also cause long-term injury to the bone marrow, which, in a few rare cases, can lead to a new case of leukaemia (cancer of certain white blood cells).
Paclitaxel (Taxol) – It is an effective drug used for treating some cases of breast cancer and ovarian cancer, but it can damage nerves over time, leaving some people with decreased sensation in their hands and feet. The anticancer compound in this drug was first discovered in the bark of Pacific yew trees.
Fluorouracil (Adrucil) – This drug was first approved as a chemotherapy drug in 1962 and is one of the oldest chemotherapy drugs still prescribed today. It’s primarily used to treat gastrointestinal cancers (including colon, rectal, stomach) and certain types of breast cancer.
Gemcitabine (Gemzar) – This is a relatively new chemotherapy drug that is effective at slowing the growth of several types of cancer. Used alone, it’s the first-line treatment for pancreatic cancer that has spread or is inoperable. It’s also used in combination to treat certain types of breast, ovarian, and lung cancers.
The average cost of chemotherapy and chemotherapeutic drugs in Indian metropolitan cities of India is low. For instance, the cost of chemotherapy in Mumbai, the financial capital of India ranges between 650-1000 USD per cycle. The cost of chemotherapy sessions in New Delhi, the capital of India ranges between 500-1000 USD. In comparatively cheaper cities but famous for medical tourism like Kolkata, Vellore and Chennai where the treatment is comparatively lesser, it ranges from 400-1000 USD. The point which is to be noted here is that the same treatment if taken from abroad and foreign countries the cost would be doubled or reaches higher than that.
Here is a gross estimate Cost Of Chemotherapy sessions based on the type of chemotherapy recommended to the patient by the doctors.
Apart from this, pre chemotherapy costs should also be kept in mind while calculating chemotherapy costs which include surgery costs, test costs and pre consultation and medication costs. Here is a table which gives detailed information of the total costs.
Talking about the Top Hospitals In India which offer cancer treatment and mainly chemotherapy sessions at the prices mentioned in the blog post, they are basically super speciality hospitals which give concessions on taxes as well depending on the annual income etc. According to www.economictimes.com some of those hospitals are
Chemotherapy can usually bring down the harm caused to the body by cancer cells but the saddening fact is that the statistics for cancer are rising every year with tremendous growth due to bad lifestyle habits, smoking and drinking habits. It is advisable that people should adopt a healthy lifestyle to save themselves from the clutches of the deadly disease cancer. Even though we have reached in the twenty-first century, the statistics for the survival rate of cancer is not growing and still remains at around less than fifty per cent. According to reports, in 2015, about 90.5 million people had cancer. About 14.1 million new cases occur a year. It caused about 8.8 million deaths which sum up to around 15.7% of deaths.
It should be noted that many types of cancers including lung cancer, blood cancer, bone cancer, breast cancer etc can easily be avoided by not smoking, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, avoiding high quantities of alcohol, eating plenty of green and leafy vegetables, fruits and whole grains, timely and proper vaccination against certain infectious diseases, avoiding too much of processed and red meat, avoiding too much exposure of sunlight, having proper physical exercise or activity and getting regular health checkups.
People who are going through the initial stages of cancer or the last stages, chemotherapy is surely a ray of hope for you as it can not only increase your chances of survival and prolong your life. It can also cure the disease fully.
It is advisable for people to read this blog post as it tells about the entire process of chemotherapy as a part of cancer treatment including the cost of chemotherapy with types of chemo sessions, available in Indian hospitals. This blog post contains brief details of some government-funded hospitals in India which provide free treatment of cancer with chemotherapy sessions to the people who cannot afford the expenses as well as some private hospitals which provide efficient and quality treatment at affordable prices as compared to some high-end international hospitals.