Chemotherapy cost in Switzerland

Treatment and Cost

21

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About the Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a category of standardized drug administration of various types for the treatment of cancer. With a curative intent, some combinations of drugs are administered to a patient to prolong their life and also to bring about a reduction in the symptoms shown by the patient. Chemotherapy treatment is considered to be one of the major categories of medical oncology. Many people around the world are prescribed to undergo chemotherapy treatment instead of undergoing a surgical procedure. But many are frightened with the side effects of this treatment as it is believed to reduce the quality of life of the patients.

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a procedure where non-specific intracellular poisons are used, which are specifically related to preventing the process of mitosis or the natural cell division of the cancerous cells. This technique rather excludes those agents that are responsible for selective extracellular growth signal blockade (signal transduction blockers). If spoken about these agents used in chemotherapy, it has been found that most of them are cytotoxic in nature due to their property of interfering with natural mitosis. However, the cells of cancer can differ widely in terms of showing susceptibility to these administered agents.

Chemotherapy can be defined as a way of mass destruction of stress cells, which would eventually lead to the death of the cells when apoptosis is initiated. The commonly known side effects of chemotherapy can be traced back to the process of damaging normal non-cancerous cells, which are in the process of rapid division. They are sensitive to anti-mitotic drugs that are being administered to the patient and such cells may include the cells of the hair follicles, digestive tract lining, and bone marrow. But nowadays treatment options have undergone a lot of modification by which these side effects can be well countered.

Types of Chemotherapy Drugs

Various options of drugs are available to treat different types of cancer including the following:

Alkylating agents: These kinds of agents prove to be extremely beneficial during the cell’s resting phase. The various kinds of alkylating agents that are employed in chemotherapy treatment include the following:

  • Mustard gas derivatives: Cyclophosphamide, mechlorethamine, chlorambucil, ifosfamide, melphalan
  • Ethylenimines: Thiotepa and hexamethylmelamine
  • Alkylsulfonates: Busulfan
  • Metal salts: Oxaliplatin, cisplatin, and carboplatin
  • Nitrosoureas: Streptozocin, lomustine, carmustine

Nitrosoureas are unique from the rest for choices in chemotherapy treatment due to their ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and treating tumors of the brain.

Plant alkaloids: Plant alkaloids employed for chemotherapy treatment are derived from plants.  These include vinca alkaloids, taxanes, podophyllotoxins, and camptothecan analogs. The plant alkaloids are cell cycle specific agents, which enables them to attack the dividing cells in various stages of their division cycle.

Antimetabolites: This kind of chemotherapy treatment involves substances that are similar in composition to the normal substances present in the cell. When these substances get incorporated in the process of cellular metabolism, then the cell is no longer able to divide. They are also cell cycle specific and can be classified further according to the substance in the cell with which they interfere.

Topoisomerase inhibitors: When the topoisomerase enzymes in the body ( topoisomerase I and II) are inhibited as a result of chemotherapy drugs, then those drugs are referred to as topoisomerase inhibitors. During the chemotherapy, the topoisomerase enzymes are responsible for controlling structural manipulation of the DNA which is necessary for the purpose of replication.

Miscellaneous antineoplastics: Different types of drugs make each chemotherapy treatment process unique. Enzymes, retinoids, adrenocortical steroid inhibitor, ribonucleotide reductase inhibitor or antimicrotubule agents can be used as chemotherapy drugs.

How is Chemotherapy performed?

Some of the chemotherapy drugs are involved in damaging the cell at the time of splitting while others do their jobs when the gene copies are being made by the cell prior to division. The cells that are in resting phase are very less likely to get damaged. Different kind of drugs damage the cells at different stages and hence a combination of various drugs will increase the chance of damaging more number of cancer cells.

Chemotherapy drugs can be given in a variety of ways. At times due to the destructive nature of stomach enzymes, some of the drugs are impossible to administer as pills. While for other drugs the effects are better realized when administered intravenously. Some of them can be injected into muscles while other can be given directly to the abdominal cavity and bladder directly.

Ways to administer Chemotherapy Medications 

Oral chemo medications:

They are administered orally and are available in various forms such as liquids, tablets, capsules, and pill. All these forms can be absorbed by the stomach or under the tongue. The protective coating around them is broken down by digestive juices of the stomach and then the medication is directly absorbed by the lining of the stomach. There are some which have a certain amount of time delay between the administration and the actual release of the medicine.

Subcutaneous injection:

With the help of a short needle, the drug is administered into the region between the muscle and skin but it does not penetrate as far as the layer of muscles. They are used for some biologic response modifiers and support drugs of chemotherapy. If the platelet count of the patient is low, then it is less likely that such injections can cause any bleeding more than that in case if it was an intra muscular injection.

Intramuscular chemo injections:

In this case, the injection penetrates the muscle layer and a large needle has to be used for this so that the medication gets deposited in the tissues of the muscle. Most chemotherapy cannot be implemented via intramuscular injection owing to its harshness. People with low platelet counts are not advised with this due to the possibility of bleeding within the muscle.

Intravenous chemo treatments:

This also gets absorbed rapidly in the circulation system in the body. It offers more flexibility, thus making it more common. Continuous infusions are ensured through this method for days and weeks if required. Some of the types of intravenous infusions include the following:

  • Angiocatheter:  A line is established in the arm or hand and infusions can be continued for few minutes to few days.
  • PICC line:  It is considered temporary but the stretch can continue for 6 weeks to a few months. The long plastic catheter is placed in one of the larger veins of the arm. It can be done by fixing it with a portable pump even at home.
  • Non-tunnelled catheters:  Through the skin, the sub clavian or the jugular vein is accessed and the line goes through the superior vena cava to the right atrium of the heart. They are used as short-term option during emergencies. Careful maintenance and regular dressing change are required in these cases.
  • Tunneled catheters:  This catheter goes through the middle of the chest, going past the subcutaneous tissue reaching the superior vena cava vessel entering the right atrium of the heart. They can be even left for years with little chances of infection. They can have multiple lumens for infusions and good for extensive therapy like the bone marrow transplant procedure.
  • Port-a-cath:  Chemo port or Port-a-cath act as a permanent option. It is usually placed by a surgeon or a radiologist. The lifetime of this can vary from three to five years. Dressing changes are not required but maintenance may be required for this at home.
Intraventricular chemo treatments:

In this procedure, the drugs are meant to reach the cerebrospinal fluid. The blood-brain barrier stops many drugs to reach it and hence in two ways it can be done; one is the lumbar puncture and the other is Ommaya reservoir. A dome-shaped device with a catheter attached is placed in the subcutaneous layer on the scalp. It is threaded to the lateral ventricle of the brain. A small needle is placed through the ommaya reservoir to inject drugs. This is good for chemotherapy for leukemia.

Intraperitoneal chemo treatment:

In this case, the drug can be directly drained into the abdominal cavity, the general cavity surrounding the organs. The organs, as a result, get bathed in the medication before it gets absorbed into the tumor site.

Intra arterial chemo treatments

Here the drug is given directly to the artery supplying blood to a tumor. This kind of treatment is beneficial for colon cancer, limb melanoma, pancreatic cancer, gastric cancer, and some other forms of cancer.

Intravesicular chemo treatments:

A urinary catheter is used to access the urinary bladder and useful for people suffering from superficially invasive bladder cancer.

Intrapleural chemo treatments:

This is the chemotherapy for lung cancer where the drug is administered in the pleural cavity to control malignant pleural effusions and used for symptom relief.

Implantable chemotherapy treatment

A gliadel wafer can be placed in the cavity after removal of tumor in the brain. It can be left for 2 or 3 weeks to ensure that all cancer cells are finally killed in the area surrounding the brain tumor site.

Topical chemo treatments:

In this case, a cream is applied to the skin and used to treat cancerous lesions on the skin itself. Not used very commonly but used for treating skin cancer.

Recovery from Chemotherapy

  • For patients who can tolerate a high dose of drugs, chemotherapy cycle is carried out in a single go after every three weeks.
  • For patients who are not expected to tolerate a high dose of drugs, the same cycle is split into two or three light doses, which are administered at an interval of a week.
  • The platelet and white blood cells count may drop after each cycle of chemotherapy, which usually recovers on its own if proper diet is maintained. Some patients may experience loss of appetite. It is important for them and all other patients to take plenty of fluids and plain water to recover after chemotherapy. This will reduce fatigue, weakness, and joint pain while restoring the platelet and WBC count.
  • Patients are advised to take the emergency medicine prescribed by the doctor in case they experience pain, vomiting, nausea, or general sickness. Inform the specialist immediately in case of any adverse reactions.

Patient Stories

More Related Information

Some of the top international doctors for Chemotherapy are:

Procedures related to Chemotherapy :

Top JCI-Certified Hospitals for Chemotherapy are:

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the factors affecting the cost of Chemotherapy in Switzerland?

The Chemotherapy package cost in Switzerland varies from one hospital to another and may offer different benefits. Some of the best hospitals for Chemotherapy offer a comprehensive package that covers the end-to-end expenses related to investigations and treatment of the patient. The treatment cost usually includes the expenses related to hospitalization, surgery, nursing, medicines, and anesthesia. There are many things that may increase the cost of Chemotherapy in Switzerland, including prolonged hospital stay and complications after the procedure.

Which are some of the best hospitals in Switzerland for Chemotherapyt?

There are several best hospitals for Chemotherapy in Switzerland. The following are some of the most renowned hospitals for Chemotherapy in Switzerland:

  1. Universitatsspital Basel
  2. Paracelsus Clinic
How many days does it take to recover post Chemotherapy in Switzerland?

After discharge from the hospital, the patient has to stay for another 21 days in the country for complete recovery. This duration of stay is recommended to complete all the necessary follow-ups and control tests to ensure that the surgery was successful.

Which are some of the other popular destinations for Chemotherapy?

Switzerland is one of the most popular countries for Chemotherapy in the world. The country offers the best cost of Chemotherapy, best doctors, and advanced hospital infrastructure. Some of the other destinations that are popular for Chemotherapy include the following:

CountryCost
IndiaUSD 500
IsraelUSD 7000
MalaysiaUSD 1800
SingaporeUSD 1500
SpainUSD 7500
ThailandUSD 2500
TurkeyUSD 1250
United Arab EmiratesUSD 4200
How much are the other expenses in Switzerland apart from the cost of Chemotherapy?

Apart from the cost of Chemotherapy, the patient is also required to pay additionally for daily meals and guest house accommodation. These charges starts from USD 50 per person.

Which are the best cities in Switzerland for Chemotherapy Procedure?

There are many cities that offer Chemotherapy in Switzerland, including the following:

  1. Lustmuhle
  2. Basel
  3. Geneva
How many days does one have to spend in the hospital for Chemotherapy in Switzerland?

The average duration of stay at the hospital after Chemotherapy is about 1 days for proper care and monitoring. The patient is subjected to several biochemistry and radiological scans to see that everything is okay and the recovery is on track. After making sure that patient is clinically stable, discharge is planned.

How many hospitals offer Chemotherapy in Switzerland?

There are more than 2 hospitals that offer Chemotherapy in Switzerland. Such clinics have the required infrastructure and a dedicated unit where patients can be treated. Such hospitals follow all legal protocols and guidelines as specified by the local medical affairs body when it comes to the treatment of international patients.

Who are the best doctors for Chemotherapy in Switzerland?

Some of the renowned medical specialists for Chemotherapy in Switzerland are:

  1. Dr. Ilker Acemoglu

FAQ's Related to Switzerland

Which are the popular multispecialty hospital groups in Switzerland?

The most popular hospitals in Switzerland are:

  1. Paracelsus Clinic, Lustmuhle;
  2. Geneva Women Care, Geneva;
  3. Universitatsspital Basel, Basel;
  4. Klinik Hirslanden Zürich, Zurich;
  5. Lindenhofspital Bern, Bern;
  6. Hirslanden Klinik Aarau, Aarau

The country has a large pool of hospitals with modern infrastructure and facilities. The total number of hospitals is around 500 and 12 of them are JCI accredited. The hospitals are efficient enough to provide world-class out-patient services. Also, the increasing number of hospitals has developed to centers of competence for excellent outpatient diagnostic and therapy. Equipped with modern equipment and the latest medical technologies, the multispecialty hospitals in Switzerland are backed by the modern infrastructure to provide world-class treatment.

What healthcare accreditation standards are followed in Switzerland?

Healthcare systems in Switzerland are bound to sign contracts on the quality of medical care as per international standards. The healthcare accreditation and certification model is an adaptation of the International Standards Organization. The country has a very stringent process for awarding healthcare accreditation. Adherence to standard EN 45001 is compulsory for accredited healthcare facilities to ensure quality care. The health standards offer a comprehensive corrective action plan for ensuring quality culture at all levels and across all functions.

Why should I opt for healthcare in Switzerland?

Switzerland is one of the most popular medical tourism destinations in the world because of several reasons like its highly qualified trained staff, traditional values of quality, and research-focus. Switzerland has some of the best infrastructure available, which naturally reflects in its medical tourism sector. Travelers have flocked to the country to take the advantage of healing waters. Their exceptional research institutes offer medical care of the highest quality. Switzerland has received worldwide recognition for its contribution to medical innovation and new treatments. Several renowned research institutes have come up with medical breakthroughs and new treatments.The Swiss are well known for their excellence in medical innovation and new treatments. Several world-famous research institutes have contributed to medical breakthroughs and new treatments. The other reasons why Switzerland has become a hot spot for medical tourism are world-class treatment, high level of privacy, and a wide range of treatment specialties.

Do hospitals in Switzerland accept health insurance?

Hospitals in Switzerland generally accept health insurance but always connect with your insurance company to check whether the treatment you want to undergo is covered at the hospital in the country. The hospital will request the Guarantee of Payment from the insurance to start your treatment cashless if it is an approved insurance provider. Usually, cosmetic surgery, pregnancy and abortion, and diagnostic tests are not covered under health insurance. You need to pay for your treatment if your insurance plan is not approved in Switzerland and can ask for reimbursement once you are back in your country.

What are the popular procedures available in Switzerland?

Some of the popular procedures available in Switzerland are:

  1. Cosmetic surgery
  2. IVF treatment
  3. Neurosurgery
  4. Obesity surgery
  5. Orthopaedic surgery

These procedures are performed with high precision and accuracy at high-standard clinics and hospitals backed by advanced technology, and well-trained doctors. With such a wide variety of treatments available, Switzerland is truly a hub for medical tourists. Its reputation for cosmetic surgery and medical health spas have also made it a preferred spot for many people. High success rates and the ability of fertility doctors to handle even the most complicated cases with ease are the main reasons for the popularity of IVF in Switzerland.

Which are the most popular cities in Switzerland for medical treatment?

Switzerland has a number of modern urban centers, such as Zurich, Lucerne, Bern, Basel, Geneva, Lausanne, Lugano. With highly trained and qualified doctors and a large pool of multispecialty hospitals, Switzerland offers a great medical travel experience. A large number of medical tourists visit Zurich and Geneva every year because of several reasons like the availability of reasonably-priced hotel rooms, better transportation systems, and connectivity through airlines. These cities have become leading medical tourism destinations in Switzerland due to many other factors, such as a large pool of world-class hospitals, rich heritage, scenic value, availability of translators, and safety of tourists.

Is it mandatory to take vaccinations before going to Switzerland?

Yes, vaccination is mandatory before you travel to Switzerland. Some of the vaccines recommended by WHO and CDC are:

  1. Hepatitis A
  2. Hepatitis B
  3. Rabies
  4. Meningitis
  5. Polio
  6. Measles
  7. Mumps and rubella (MMR)
  8. Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis)
  9. Chickenpox
  10. Shingles
  11. Pneumonia
  12. Influenza.

Always have MMR and other routine vaccinations because some regions of Switzerland have periodic disease outbreaks. The recommended vaccinations for travelers to Switzerland vary according to the traveler's age, immunization history, and existing medical conditions. Before a trip to Switzerland, you should get pre-exposure vaccination against rabies and yellow fever.

What is the process for obtaining medical visa in Switzerland?

A candidate needs to apply for a Schengen Visa for traveling to Switzerland to seek treatment. A person with this visa can stay in the country for a maximum of 90 days. If you need to stay longer for treatment, you should apply for a National Visa for Medical Treatment. Below documents are required for applying for a medical visa:

  1. Full return flight reservation
  2. Proof of stay in Switzerland
  3. Signed official medical letter from medical institution
  4. Signed medical letter from a recognized local practitioner
  5. Passport
  6. Passport-sized photographs
  7. Online Application form