Brain Tumour Treatment cost in South Africa

The brain tumor is a condition wherein cells grow in an uncontrolled fashion which interferes with brain function like muscle control, sensation, memory, and other normal body functions. They can result due to exposure to radiation, family history of brain tumours or cancer located anywhere else in the body reaches the brain. If the brain tumor remains undiagnosed, it can prove to be fatal and thus, it is important to initiate treatment as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed.

A brain tumor is graded from 1 to 4, with grade one or two characterized as benign or slowly growing and grade 3 and 4 tumours rapidly progressing. Brain tumour manifests as common symptoms like headache, nausea, vomiting, epileptic seizures, or neurological deficits.  Brain tumours are not infectious and thus, one cannot catch a brain tumour. The golden standard of treatment for benign tumours is the surgery as the patient might be experiencing pressure inside the brain or functional disturbance in the brain or epileptic episodes. Malignant tumours require radiotherapy combined with chemotherapy is the standard follow-up treatment after surgery.

Regular follow-ups with the doctor are important to monitor the health and to look for any signs of recurrence. Any physiological or psychological effects of the treatment can be looked after during these follow-ups and thus, the number of days in the country are decided after patient-doctor consultation.

While booking a round trip, a person needs to spend 6-8 weeks in South Africa which depends on the surgery performed, whether the patient requires rehabilitation and how fast the patient recovers. After the surgery, the patient may take approximately 8 weeks to recover and get back to normal energy levels. The recovery phase of the patient depends on several factors like duration of treatment, types of treatment modalities used, location of tumour in the brain, age of the patient and overall health condition.  

Length of stay in South Africa can be bifurcated into:

8 days in the hospital, 14 days outside the hospital and 22 days in the country

For international patients, low-cost brain tumour surgery is a boon as they get the opportunity to get healed at a lower price than their home country. South Africa is a hub of world-class hospitals, advanced equipment, and highly specialized surgeons. South Africa is the preferred spot for brain tumour treatment because of low-cost standard treatment and affordable medical facilities.

Cost Comparison

The cost of Brain Tumor Treatment in South Africa depends upon several factors ranging from the type of treatment or surgery require to what stage the Brain Tumor is, which will lead to the final cost of the overall treatment in South Africa. Some of the Factors Affecting the cost of Brain Tumor Treatment in South Africa are:

    • Technology used
    • Type of anesthesia or sedation
    • Qualifications/expertise of the specialist
    • Incision location/type
    • The extent of surgery needed
    • The patient's general health
    • The patient's diagnosis
Treatment and Cost

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About the Brain Tumour Treatment

A brain tumor is a cancerous or a non-cancerous growth of cells in the brain. This growth of abnormal cells can take place in any part of the brain or it can happen in any other body party and spread to the brain.

It is a fairly common condition that affects millions of people around the world. An undiagnosed brain tumour can prove fatal and therefore, it is necessary to undergo specific tests and initiate treatment as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed.

The symptoms of a brain tumour can be confused with some other medical condition, especially migraine. Increasingly strong headache and blurred vision are the two most common symptoms of a brain tumour. People with this condition can also experience seizures, confusion, nausea, vertigo, impaired voice, and loss of balance.

Treatment for a brain tumour depends on several factors. The type, size, and the location of a tumour, in addition to the overall health of the patient and his or her age, are some of the considerations made by the doctor while preparing a brain tumour treatment plan.

Different treatment modalities can be used to treat brain tumour patients and surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy are among them. Usually, a combination of treatment modalities is used to conduct brain tumour treatment.

How is Brain Tumour Treatment performed?

The procedural details depend on the type of treatment that the patient is recommended to undergo. A surgery is almost always recommended for brain tumor patients. TO remove the tumor in the brain, the surgeon first opens the skull, a procedure known as a craniotomy.

During the surgery, the aim of the surgeon is to remove as much tumor as possible without affecting the nearby tissues. Partial tumor removal is carried out in some patients to reduce the size of the tumor to make sure that it can be treated with radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

The tumor is left as in some patients. In such cases, the doctor only removes a sample of the tumor tissue for a biopsy. The biopsy in the case of brain tumor patients is mostly conducted with the help of a needle. During this procedure, the tissue sample is looked under a microscope to identify the type of cells that it has. Accordingly, the doctors advise a course of treatment.

Radiation therapy is another treatment modality used in the case of patients with brain cancer and tumors that cannot be removed through surgery. Additionally, it is also used to destroy tumor cells that could not be removed during surgery.

External radiation therapy, internal radiation therapy, and GammaKnife or stereotactic radiosurgery are some of the forms of radiation therapies commonly used to treatment brain tumor patients.

Chemotherapy is the third treatment used for a brain tumor. It involves the use of a specific combination of drugs to kills cancer cells. These drugs are mostly administered intravenously and the patients are not required to stay in the hospital for this procedure. Chemotherapy is administered in cycles.

Recovery from Brain Tumour Treatment

After a surgery for brain tumor removal, the patients need extra time to heal fully. Additionally, it may take a few months for the patient to return back to normal energy levels. The total time taken by the patient to recover, however, depends on several factors. This may include the following:

  • The duration of treatment
  • The number and type of treatment modalities used
  • Patient’s age and overall health
  • The exact location of the tumor in the brain
  • The area of the brain affected by tumor
  • The exact length of hospital stay after the surgery may vary among patients. However, a five to six-day stay is the most common among patients. The patients are carefully monitored during this period. A team of occupational, physical, and speech therapists helps with the rehabilitation of the patient during the recovery phase.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main causes of a brain tumour?

Brain Tumor is a severe disease which happens due to the formation and growth of abnormal mass of cells in the brain. Some of these tumors are benign (noncancerous) and some are malignant (cancerous). Every tumor has its own pace of growth. The location of the tumor and its growth rate defines how it will affect the functioning of the nervous system. The Primary Brain Tumor emerges in the brain or in the tissues surrounding it like meninges (brain-covering membrane), penal glands (pituitary glands) and cranial nerves.

Primary Brain Tumors take place when the normal cells in the brain are disturbed. This particular disturbance involves the cells to grow and divide along with staying alive instead of dying as the normal cells do after a period of time. This process, in the end, allows the mass of abnormal cells to grow and become a tumor. Stating the specific reason behind this abnormal growth of mass of cells is quite tough as there has not been any solid reason supporting the very cause of brain tumors. However, there are many risk factors which are believed to have something to do with the occurrence of brain tumors. Some of the most common risk factors are –

  • Excessive exposure to radiation

  • Weak immune system

  • Genetic disorder such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Hippel-Lindau disease, Neurofibromatosis, and Tuberous Sclerosis.

What are the factors affecting the cost of Brain Tumour Treatment in South Africa?

The factors affecting the cost of Brain Tumor Treatment in South Africa are –

  • Patient’s medical condition

  • Area of tumor

  • Type of treatment

  • Type of anesthesia used

  • Patient’s diagnosis

  • Doctor’s proficiency

  • Type of hospital

  • Brand value of hospital

  • Location of the hospital

What are the types of surgeries available in South Africa for Brain Tumour Treatment?

The types of surgeries available in South Africa for Brain Tumor Surgery are –

  • Biopsy–To confirm the diagnosis, a piece of the tumor is removed with the help of a surgical procedure called ‘biopsy’. Afterward, the sample is examined under the microscope to determine which kind of a tumor it is. A biopsy can either be performed as a part of the tumor surgery or as a totally separate procedure.

  • Craniotomy –This specific surgery is the most common type of surgery performed for the treatment of the brain tumor. In order to perform the craniotomy, a section of the scalp is shaved in order to make a clear incision through the skin. With the help of specialized equipment, the surgeon removes the bone of the treatment area to expose the part of the brain enclosing the tumor. Next, the outermost layer of the brain tissue (Dura mater) is opened up and the tumor is removed.

  • Shunt –In some cases, patients develop amplified intracranial pressure. To release the pressure, a procedure is performed to drain the blocked or excess fluid. Basically, a shunt is a thin piece of a flexible tube known as the catheter that is inserted into the ventricle of the patient’s brain. The other end of the catheter is stitched under the scalp towards the neck and still being under the skin; it is stitched to another cavity of the body which is the ultimate destination of the fluid drainage.
What is the recovery process post-surgery in South Africa for Brain Tumour treatment?

The recovery process post-surgery in South Africa for the Brain Tumor Treatment is as same as it is in any other country. The healing from the surgery requires an ample amount of time and patience at the same time. It will take quite a lot of time for the patient to be healthy and resume routine activities. In addition, the total time required for the patient to heal from the surgery varies from person to person and depends on various factors such as –

  • The procedure used to remove the brain tumor

  • Location of the brain tumor

  • Regions of the brain affected due to the surgery

  • Age and health of the patient

The hospital stay depends on various factors such as the type of surgery performed, if the patient faces any kind of complications post-surgery or requires another treatment, etc.

Which are the top hospitals for brain tumour treatment in South Africa ?

The top hospitals for brain tumor treatment in South Africa are Lenmed La Verna Private hospital, Ahmed Kathrada Private hospital, Zamokuhle Private hospital, Life Kingsbury hospital, UCT Private Academic hospital, Netcare hospital.

Who are the top doctors and surgeons for brain tumour treatment in South Africa?

Top doctors in South Africa at Zamokuhle Private hospital are Dr. AO Adedipe and the doctors at Ahmed Kathrada Private hospital are Dr. V Goolab and Prof R Gopal. The doctors at Life Kingsbury hospital are Dr. AL Mbatha and Dr. John Hill. The doctors at UCT Private Academic hospital are Le Feuvre David and Prof. Taylor Allan.

FAQ's Related to South Africa

Which are the popular multispecialty hospital groups in South Africa?

The popular multispecialty hospital groups in South Africa are:

  1. Ahmed Al-Kadi Private Hospital
  2. Busamed Hillcrest Private Hospital
  3. Busamed Gateway Private Hospital
  4. Busamed Modderfontein Private Hospital
  5. Busamed Lowveld Hospital
  6. Lenmed Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre
  7. Busamed Paardevlei Private Hospital
  8. Life Bay View Private Hospital
  9. Lenmed Shifa Hospital

The performance of these hospitals have been evaluated on the below parameters:

  1. Providing clear information about medicines to patients
  2. Effective engagement between nursing staff/doctors and patients;
  3. Suitability of the hospital environment for meeting the needs of patients
  4. Effectively managing pain.

The hospitals are bound to provide quality treatment as the government of South Africa has framed strict healthcare rules to ensure there is no quality lapse. The hospitals have world-class doctors and top-notch infrastructure and provide a wide range of facilities to meet the needs of patients.

What healthcare accreditation standards are followed in South Africa?

Joint Commission International (JCI) and Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa (COHSASA) are two healthcare accreditation bodies in South Africa. To ensure that integrated and coordinated care is provided, COHSASA develops as well as measures standards in all areas and departments of a healthcare facility. The SafeCare program launched by COHSASA, JCI, and SafeCare Foundation ensures the implementation of internationally recognized standards to improve health care delivery. The accreditation bodies ensure that the hospitals are consistent in delivering quality care, so, initially, they grant accreditation to hospitals and clinics only for 2 years which gets extended if the quality is maintained.

Why should I opt for healthcare in South Africa?

One of the leading medical tourism destinations, South Africa offers affordable healthcare and has superior infrastructure. Medical tourists prefer South Africa for treatment due to many other reasons like world-class facilities provided by hospitals, advanced technology, global exposure of doctors, and accredited hospitals. In addition, South Africa’s liberal laws allow for the use of stem cells in medical practice, making it an invaluable destination for patients in need of advanced medical treatment. You get comprehensive treatment at world-class hospitals which assist you with all organization and administrative tasks and also provide you all-inclusive care and assistance on a 24/7 basis.

How is the quality of doctors in South Africa?

The doctors in South Africa strive to provide quality treatment utilizing their deep subject knowledge and hands-on experience in handling various complex cases. Having trained in foreign countries like Australia and Cuba, doctors in South Africa use their global exposure in developing deep expertise in various procedures. The doctors have reported a high success rate in dental procedures and fertility treatments. There are several reasons why South Africa has a large pool of quality doctors, such as education at reputed colleges, compliance with global standards, using human touch in treatment, and adopting a patient-centric approach.

How to obtain a medical visa in South Africa?

You can stay in South Africa for a period of 90 days under a medical visa. The extension of the stay period is decided by the High Commission.. People must apply for a temporary residency permit if they require medical treatment for longer than three months. The validity of a visa starts the day it is granted by the High Commission and not on the date of departure. Also, visa applications will not be accepted more than 30 days prior to departure. You need to produce the below documents to apply for a medical visa:

  1. Passport
  2. Passport-sized photographs
  3. Online Application form
  4. Full return flight reservation
  5. Proof of stay in South Africa
  6. Signed official medical letter from medical institution
  7. Signed medical letter from a recognized local practitioner
What are the popular procedures available in South Africa?

South Africa is known to offer some procedures with high success rates, such as total knee replacement, meniscus repairs, hip replacement, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. Cosmetic surgery and infertility treatment are some of the other popular procedures in South Africa which have a high success rate. Fertility treatment through egg donation has seen a high success rate in South Africa wherein a person can opt for a surgical or non-surgical procedure, with quite low waiting times. People select South Africa to avail these procedures due to several reasons, such as world-class hospitals with superior infrastructure and highly-skilled doctors, fast recovery, and use of cutting-edge medical technology.

Which are the most popular cities in South Africa for medical treatment?

Top destinations for medical tourism in South Africa are Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Durban. Cape Town, which attracts a wide variety of people from different ethnicity and cultures, has world-class doctors and state-of-the-art medical facilities. An efficient public transportation system, affordable accommodation, connectivity through airlines, and a wide range of food options are some of the reasons for the popularity of these cities among medical tourists. Johannesburg’s public and private healthcare sectors work in coordination with South Africa's medical schools to produce internationally recognized medical specialists and the city’s medical care quality matches with that of Great Britain.

Is it mandatory to take vaccinations before going to South Africa?

Yes, vaccination is compulsory before visiting South Africa. The vaccines recommended by WHO and the National Travel Health Network and Centre are Rabies and tetanus, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, Yellow fever, hepatitis A. Infants of age 6 to 11 months should get a single dose of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine before they travel to South Africa. You need to go for typhoid vaccination if you are going to stay with friends or relatives or visiting smaller cities or rural areas. Vaccination guidelines change with time, so keep yourself updated with the travel advisory released by the government. You can also check with doctors or hospitals in South Africa for the required vaccines.

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