Chemotherapy Cost In India

Cancer is termed as the uncontrolled cell division of abnormal cells in the body. The cancer cells develop in the body when the body’s normal control mechanism stops working due to some abnormalities and the old cells instead of dying, grow out of control which then leads to the formation of new and abnormal cells. These abnormal cells when becoming too much in number, collect in masses and give rise to clots or tumours which spread in the body to give rise to deadly cancer tissues. 

The most common types of cancer are

  • Breast cancer

Breast cancer occurs in the cells of the breasts.

  • Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer occurs in a man’s prostate, a small walnut-sized gland that produces seminal fluid.

  • Basal cell cancer

Basal cell cancer is a type of skin cancer that begins in the basal cells of the body. 

  • Skin cancer (Melanoma)

Melanoma is often called the most serious type of skin cancer.

  • Colon cancer

Cancer of the colon or rectum, located at the digestive tracts lower end.

  • Lung cancer

Cancer that begins in the lungs and most often occurs in people who smoke.

  • Leukaemia

Leukaemia is a cancer of blood-forming tissues, hindering the body’s ability to fight infection.

  • Lymphoma

Lymphoma is cancer which occurs in the lymphatic system of the body.

When one hears the word Cancer, he is frightened to his nerves because cancer is generally considered to be a fatal disease and a disease which would suck the money out of the patients’ pockets. Cancer indeed is a terrible disease and no one would ever want to go through it but if you or your loved ones are going through it then this blog post is for you. When you would have heard the word cancer, I am sure money would have been the last thing on your mind because cancer is the fight for survival and to come out victorious of this dreaded disease is not that easy. Battling this almost fatal disease can be very tough because it demands physical, mental and emotional stability both on the patient’s and his family members’ part. 

Even though cancer is thought and assumed to be fatal, we all should know that if detected in the first or second stage, the patient can be saved as there are many examples of cancer survivors who are leading happy and healthy lives. But it is a sad fact that many of the patients get to know about this fatal disease in its last stages, that is either in the third and fourth stage. At this stage, we totally cannot say that the disease has become fatal but we can say that the chances of the patient’s survival have become less. Doctors at this stage don’t promise anything but try their best to prolong the life of the patient as much as possible through some therapies and medications. One such therapy is Chemotherapy. 

 

Chemotherapy is also known as chemo or CTX or CTx. It is a method and step in the process of cancer treatment. Chemotherapy aims to cure and basically reduce the symptoms and harm done to the cancer patient’s body and thus prolong his life duration which goes on decreasing due to the uncontrolled division of cells in the body. Chemotherapy is one of the major categories of the medical discipline specifically devoted to pharmacotherapy for cancer, which is called medical oncology. Chemotherapy tends to heal the loss done to the patient’s body by the initial stages of cancer. 

India has always been performing better when it comes to medical tourism. Seeing the rise in the number of cancer patients, medical facilities in India with respect to cancer treatment and mainly chemotherapy have been improving both in terms of monetary and efficiency basis. Since the cost of chemotherapy is considerably lesser in India and the efficiency of the treatment is same as in foreign countries, foreigners are also attracted towards the chemotherapy packages and cover-ups in India. As half of the revenue earned by the government from medical tourism comes from cancer patients coming to India from across the globe, India welcomes the patients with open arms as the governments keep on adding schemes and programs for cancer awareness and cancer treatment which includes chemotherapy.

Before we discuss on the cost of Chemotherapy in India, it would be advisable to tell the patient’s that some prestigious Indian hospital which is government-funded provide free cancer treatment which includes free chemotherapy sessions as well. According to the best results of research, the top five hospitals which provide free world-class cancer treatment along with chemotherapy sessions are:

 

  1. Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai
  2. Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, Bangalore
  3. Tata Memorial Hospital, Kolkata 
  4. Regional Cancer Center, Thiruvananthapuram
  5. Cancer Care Foundation of India, Mumbai

Cancer has always been a tough disease to deal with and to the people who can’t afford the prices of its treatment, these hospitals are always there for your rescue and a ray of hope in despair. These government-funded hospitals take pride in providing free care to around seventy-five per cent of its cancer patients. India is at the forefront of cancer research, these hospitals are known for their Advanced Center for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer (ACTREC). They are well-equipped to provide chemotherapy and radiology to their patients. They also have the latest equipment to conduct ultrasounds, CT Scans, MRI’s as well as real-time nuclear medicine scanning and PET Scans and all other therapies and tests which might be needed for the patient’s cure. 

Coming to the Cost of Chemotherapy in India,

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.

 

Commonly Used Chemotherapy Drugs:

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.

Cost Of Chemotherapy In India

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.

Type

Price Range

ORAL

Rs. 56,000 ($800) – Rs. 70,000 ($1,000)

THROUGH IV

Rs.70,000 ($1,000) – Rs.1,05,000 ($1,500)

THROUGH PORT

Rs.2,10,000 ($3,000) – Rs.2,80,000 ($4,000)

Prior to Chemotherapy Cost
CONSULATION
Rs. 1,000 ($14) to Rs. 5,000 ($71).
LAB TESTS
Rs. 56,000 ($800) to Rs. 70,000 ($1,000).
CT SCAN
Rs. 2,000 ($28) to Rs. 6,000 ($88) 
PET SCAN 
Rs. 15,000 ($214) to Rs. 30,000 ($429
X-RAY 
Rs. 300 ($4) to Rs. 1,000 ($14).
BIOPSY
Rs. 30,000 ($429) to Rs. 35,000 ($500).
MRI SCAN
Rs. 2,000 ($28) to Rs. 25,000 ($357).
FNAC
Rs. 450 ($7) to Rs. 2,200 ($32) 
ENDOSCOPY
Rs. 1,500 ($22) to Rs. 30,000 ($429)

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.

Top Hospitals In India For Cancer Patients

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  

  1. Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai
  2. All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
  3. The Cancer Institute, Adyar, Chennai
  4. Apollo Specialty Hospital, Chennai
  5. The Gujarat Cancer & Research Institute, Ahmadabad
  6. Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre, New Delhi
  7. Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, Bangalore
  8. Regional Cancer Centre, Thiruvananthapuram
  9. HCG, Bangalore
  10. Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh

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. 

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