Introduction to Lung Cancer Treatment
Lung cancer develops when cells in any part of the lungs become abnormal and start to replicate uncontrollably. Nobody knows what triggers the genetic changes in the machinery of the cells that lead to this form of cancer, however, smokers are known to be at risk of lung cancer.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US. While smokers are at the greatest risk of getting this disease, people who get frequently exposed to pollution and passive smoke are no different. This malignancy mostly develops in people who are aged 45 and above and rarely affects people below that age group.
How much is the cost of lung cancer treatment has no definite answer? This is because the course of treatment advised may vary greatly from one patient to the other. Each lung case of lung cancer is different and most of the times, the cost variables are not known until the treatment actually starts.
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The total cost of lung cancer treatment depends on several factors such as the type of lung cancer, the stage, and grade of cancer, the hospital you choose, the treating doctor, insurance status, and your geographical location. The cost of cancer treatment tends to vary greatly in different parts of the world. For example, the cancer treatment cost is pretty affordable in countries such as India and Thailand, as compared to the options in Western countries such as the US and the UK.
The purpose of this Lung Cancer Treatment Cost Guide is to present information pertaining to the costs associated with the treatment of this malignancy. Additionally, it provides a detailed break up of the costs that a patient is expected to bear during their course of treatment and the factors that affect the total cost of treatment.
According to the American Cancer Society, the following factors are known to increase the risk of lung cancer:
- Tobacco smoke
- Exposure to radon
- Exposure to asbestos
- Air pollution
- Arsenic in drinking water
- Exposure to cancer-causing agents such as inhaled chemicals (mustard gas, coal products, silica, cadmium etc.) and diesel exhaust
- A family history of lung cancer
- Previous history of radiation to the lungs
- Previous history of lung cancer
- Carotene supplements
There are several other factors that are suspected to be the risk factors for lung cancer. However, the researchers have not been able to prove the direct cause-and-effect mechanism for these factors.
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Suspected risk factors
- Marijuana smoke
- Use of talcum powder or talc
Factors Affecting The Cost of Lung Cancer Treatment
The average cost of lung cancer treatment in any country depends on the internal health policy of the state, the hospital charges, whether or not the patient has insurance. Irrespective of all these factors, the lung cancer treatment cost may vary from one hospital to the other within the same state by as much as 30 to 40 percent.
High-end hospitals with state-of-the-art facilities such as premiere residential complex, shopping arcade, and inbuilt multicuisine restaurants charge a greater fee for treatment as compared to hospitals that focus more on just the treatment. However, that does not mean that the quality of treatment offered by the less expensive hospitals is not on par with the high-end hospitals.
The following are some of the top factors that control the overall lung cancer treatment cost worldwide:
Cost of Initial Investigations
Once the patient visits a doctor with specific symptoms of lung cancer, the pulmonologist advises a series of tests to diagnose the condition.
Some of the tests that are conducted initial include the following:
- Chest X-ray
- Sputum test
- Pulmonary function test (spirometry)
- Fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC)
When the test results are suggestive of lung cancer, a biopsy is conducted to confirm the diagnosis. The doctor may take a sample for biopsy during bronchoscopy or he may do it later using a CT-guided test or endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) test. A PET CT scan is also conducted at this stage to confirm the diagnosis and to check for the extent of cancer. Additionally, a bone scan may be conducted to check for the invasion of cancer cells into the bones.
All of these tests cost additional to the treatment of lung cancer.
The Fees of the Medical, Surgical, and Radiation Oncologist
Depending on the type and stage of lung cancer, the patient may require surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. Most of the patient requires a combination of these treatment modalities for successful treatment. Each of these treatment types is handled by different specialists. While a medical oncologist is the one who looks after chemotherapy, surgical management is handled by a surgical oncologist and radiation by a radiation oncologist.
The selection of treatment that is expected to work the best of the patient further depends on the type of lung cancer that they have. Surgery is usually a common treatment option for patients with non-small cell lung cancer that is localized and has not spread anywhere in the body. It is not usually recommended in the case of small-cell lung cancer unless it has been diagnosed at an early stage. The other treatment modalities include chemotherapy (pills or injection), radiation therapy (external beam or internal brachytherapy), targeted therapy, and photodynamic therapy (PDT)
Type of Surgery
Depending on the type and extent of cancer, the following types of surgeries can be conducted
- Wedge resection: Removal of a small wedge-shaped portion of the cancer-containing region in the lung along with some healthy tissue
- Lobotomy: Removal of one lobe of the lung if cancer is restricted to just one part of the lung
- Pneumonectomy: Complete removal of one lung
- Lymph node removal: Removal of the lymph nodes in the chest if the cancer cells have spread
The cost of lung cancer surgery, thus, depends on the approach that the surgeons use to treat the patient. This, in turn, again depends on the overall health of the patient and the status of the cancer extent.
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Number of Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy Cycles
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy, if conducted, cost additional to the surgery. The overall cost of lung cancer treatment, therefore, also depends on the number of radiation and chemotherapy cycles advised to the patient.
Usually, patients are advised to undergo 4, 6, 8, or 12 cycles of chemotherapy, depending on the status of cancer and the choice of the drug. The chemotherapy drug is selected depending on whether it is likely to work for the patient or not.
On the other hand, the patient may be advised to undergo 5 or 6 cycles of radiation therapy, which again may vary depending on the cancer status. Radiation therapy is mostly conducting on an OPD basis from Monday through Friday for 5 or 6 weeks. That is, a total of 25 to 30 sessions of radiation is usually recommended to cancer patients. However, this may change depending on whether the patient has had surgery for tumor removal or not.
Cost of Medications and Life-Long Care
Lung cancer patients are usually required to continue to take medications and attend follow-up sessions with the doctor throughout their life. Some level of watching and active surveillance is required to keep cancer recurrence in check. All of this adds on to the total cost that the patient has to bear.
Average Cost of Lung Cancer Treatment: Top Countries
The following table highlights the average cost of lung cancer treatment in some of the top medical tourism destinations in the world:
Type of Treatment
|Lung Cancer Surgery
||$2300 to $4000
||$3000 to $5000
||$2160 to $3500
||$4000 to $6000
||$7200 to $12000
||$20000 to $35000
||$25000 to $30000
||$15000 to $25000
||$2000 to $4000
||$6000 to $20000
||$13000 to $30000
||$12000 to $30000
Lung Cancer Treatment Cost in India
Lung cancer cost in India starts from approximately $6000 to $8000 USD. Many people from abroad prefer to go to India for this treatment because of the affordable cost of treatment and the availability of experienced and qualified surgical, medical, and radiation oncologists.
Also, the overall cost of living in India is cheap. When all the additional expenses such as those related to local travel, accommodation, meals, and other things are considered, the total cost of treatment comes out to be much less than any other country.
Lung Cancer Treatment Cost in the USA
Lung cancer treatment cost in the USA is far greater than a majority of other medical tourism destinations. People working in the US but originally from some other country find it difficult to afford the cost of medical care there. They, therefore, prefer to go someplace else for medical treatment that is more affordable.
For people in the US who have insurance, the cost of treatment is much less as compared to those who pay it out of their own pockets. Only patients who have good-paying capacity and are looking for the best oncology treatment prefer to go to the US for lung cancer treatment.
Lung Cancer Treatment Cost in Singapore
Lung cancer treatment cost in Singapore is greater than a majority of medical tourism destinations. In some cases, the total expenses turn out to be as much as what it would cost in the US for the same treatment.
The hospitals in Singapore are globally renowned for their quality of treatment and services. The medical specialists associated with these hospitals are highly qualified, experienced, and educated. The country is known for providing the highest quality of services and the professionalism of the staff associated with the hospitals.
Lung Cancer Treatment Cost in Thailand
Lung cancer treatment in Thailand is available at some of the best JCI-certified hospitals in the country. Each year, many patients, especially from nearby countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia, and Indonesia travel to Thailand for oncology treatment.
The treatment cost in Thailand is affordable as compared to Singapore and the US. Additionally, all types of medical facilities are available under the same roof. Apart from lung cancer, options for treatment of all other forms of cancer is available in Thailand.
Tests to be conducted under Lung Cancer Treatment
Following are some of the tests to be conducted before, during, and post-surgery for Lung Cancer Treatment:
|Pre Surgery Tests
- Physical examination
- PET-CT Scan
- EBUS (if conducted)
- Blood workup
- Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (if required)
- Lung function test
- Chest X-ray
- Anticoagulants and antibiotics
- Surgery team fees
- Anesthesia charges
- OT charges
- Other consumables and medicines
- Blood transfusion, if needed
- ICU charges
- Ventilator cost (if needed)
- Oxygen charges
- Medications for pain relief
- Other special consumables
- Hospital bed charges
- Any additional service availed
- Any other consultation
- Complications management
- Unanticipated care
- Follow-up cost
- Adjuvant chemotherapy (if required)
- Radiation therapy (if required)
- Palliative care
Lung Cancer Treatment Cost Without Insurance
The complete cost of lung cancer treatment depends on the fact whether the patient is covered under some form of insurance or not. Lung cancer treatment cost without insurance can be too much for uninsured individuals.
People who are not covered by insurance may have to bear huge out-of-pocket expenses, which includes the cost of surgery, surgeon’s fees, anesthesia fees, chemotherapy cost, and cost of medicines and other consumables.
How much does lung cancer treatment cost with insurance?
The exact lung cancer treatment cost with insurance may depend from one insurance provider to the other and the insurance coverage that they provide. Some of the insurance providers may cover the cost of surgery and surgeon’s fees up to a limit, however, it may not cover the cost of certain medicines and consumables.
It is always beneficial to check with the insurance provider locally to make sure whether the treatment is covered by the policy or not. Also, one should be sure of the inclusions and exclusions of the policy as a part of financial planning.
Lung Cancer Treatment Cost by Stage
Lung cancer surgery costs and other expenses depending on the stage and grade of cancer. Stage IV cancer patients require extensive and long-term treatment. This is because it is difficult to manage such patients and sometimes that are put on palliative therapy, which continues for the entire lifetime.
Stage I and Stage II cancer patients have usually advised a form of surgery along with sessions of chemotherapy or radiation therapy or both, again depending on the type of cancer diagnosed.
Lung cancer treatment cost by stage is, therefore, variable from one patient to the other. It depends on individual needs, medical characteristics, and overall health status.
Lung Cancer Surgery Cost Itemized Breakdown
Cost of Accommodation, Food, and Local Travel
Patients who travel from abroad to a particular country for treatment have to bear an additional cost of hotel accommodation, local traveling, and food. This additional cost on top of the treatment cost depends on individual preferences. For example, a patient may decide to stay in a 3-star, 4-star or 5-star accommodation and prefer to eat exquisite cuisine during his or her stay. The cost increases with an increase in the level of luxury that a patient looks to have.
The following table highlights the approximate cost of accommodation and food in some of the most popular medical tourism destinations:
|Meal for Two
Internationally Recognized JCI-certified Hospitals For Lung Cancer Treatment
Some of the best hospitals for lung cancer treatment are located in the most popular medical tourism destinations such as India, Thailand, Singapore, Israel, Turkey, the UAE, Hungary, Switzerland, and the UAE.
Being the top medical tourism destinations, the hospitals in these countries have state-of-the-art facilities to assist patients traveling from abroad. The hospitals are equipped to provide all types of services to the patients, no matter from which part of the world they are traveling from.
The best hospitals for lung cancer treatment in the aforementioned countries provides the facility for an in-house translator, multicuisine food, money exchange facility, local transportation, and local stay arrangements as well.
Some of the top Hospitals for Lung Cancer Treatment across the world are:
- Apollo Group of Hospitals, India: Apollo Cancer Centre, India’s first ISO certified healthcare provider is today ranked among the top super specialty hospitals, offering advanced tertiary care in Oncology.
- First Oncology Hospital in India and First Hospital in Chennai city to be accredited by NABH.
- First hospital in South-East Asia to introduce the 64 Slice PET-CT Scan.
- First hospital in India to introduce CyberKnife®.
- The first hospital in India to have all the latest Radiotherapy equipment such as TrueBeam STX.
- Artemis Hospitals, India: Artemis Cancer Centre is an integral part of Artemis staffed by a well trained and experienced team of oncologists and paramedics and armed with world-class equipment and facilities. Artemis Cancer Centre offers multidisciplinary comprehensive cancer care with a personalized touch to the patients from all corners of India, neighboring countries and all parts the world
In addition to the above features we have services that are unique to our hospital only:
• OPD Documentation and statistics
• Special nursing and rehabilitative services as required
• Pain clinic
• Terminal care
• Telemedicine and communication center
• Daycare Chemotherapy center
• Second opinions & national and international affiliations and networking
- Parkway Group of Hospitals, Singapore: Founded in 2006, Parkway Cancer Centre (PCC) is one of the largest and leading private cancer centers in Singapore. The center provides comprehensive cancer services from cancer screening, cancer diagnosis, cancer treatment to palliative care. The center operates within two of the largest well-known private acute tertiary hospitals – Mount Elizabeth Hospital and Gleneagles Hospital, which both are accredited by Joint Commission International (JCI).
- Outpatient and inpatient chemotherapy (including cytotoxic drugs, targeted therapy, and hormonal therapy)
- High dose chemotherapy and stem cell rescue.
- Radiation therapy (including the IMRT, IGRT, 3D conformal RT, stereo-static RT, radiosurgery, brachytherapy and implants
- Memorial Hospital, Turkey: Memorial Hospital offers comprehensive inpatient and outpatient cancer care services. Their expert multi-specialty cancer team engages patients and their families to provide the highest quality treatment in a caring, supportive environment. Patients benefit from the combination of proven treatments and the latest technology. Newer tools include minimally-invasive, robotically assisted and laparoscopic surgical techniques and highly precise radiation therapy treatments that target tumors while preserving surrounding healthy tissue.
- NMC Royal Hospital, UAE: The Pulmonology Department team has a strong interest in the chest and respiratory problems ranging from Asthma & Allergic disorders to interstitial lung disease and sleep-associated breathing disorders. With a state-of-the-art pulmonary function lab the best and most advanced diagnosis, treatment and care is given to all of the patients to ensure their comfort and positive outcome.
- Pulmonary Function Testing (Spirometry, Lung volumes & Diffusion Capacity)
- Bronchoscopy and Lung Biopsy
- Management of Sleep Associated Breathing Disorders
- Smoking Cessation Clinic
- Allergy Testing
- Acute Lung Injury and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Pneumonia and Other Infectious Disease
- Medical Thoracoscopy
- Cardio-Pulmonary Exercise Testing