Cancer

Finding the True Cost of Blood Cancer and How to Pay for It

Apart from the imminent health crisis, cancer is a psychological and financial burden that takes a toll on the patient and the whole family. The treatment process can be long and excruciating, and sometimes it involves surgery alongside other therapies. These and other non-medical costs pile up at an alarming rate. 

The reality is that most people are not financially equipped to handle the cost of a critical illness like blood cancer. To get the best blood cancer treatment in India, you must start the treatment as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed. Understanding the cost of blood cancer treatment helps to cope with the dreaded illness.

What is blood cancer?

Blood cancer affects the formation and functioning of blood cells and the bone marrow. Also called hematologic cancer, it causes the abnormal growth of blood cells, disrupts normal functions like fighting infections, and causes heavy bleeding.

Types of blood cancer

The three main types of blood and bone marrow cancer are:

  • Leukemia

Leukemia develops in the blood and bone marrow. It’s a result of too many abnormal white blood cells created by the body which affects the bone marrow’s ability to synthesize red cells and platelets.

  • Lymphoma

Lymphoma develops in the lymphatic system from cells called lymphocytes that help the body fight infections. The two variations of lymphoma are Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The former manifests in the presence of an abnormal lymphocyte called the Reed-Sternberg cell.

  • Multiple myeloma

Myeloma begins in the plasma cells, a white blood cell made in the bone marrow.

The causes of blood cancer

The main trigger for blood cancers is a genetic mutation of blood cells. Other risk factors vary depending on the type of cancer.

The risk factors for acute myeloid leukemia are:

  • Age- The risk of developing AML increases with advancing age
  • Gender- males are more likely to develop AML than females
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals like benzene
  • Exposure to radiation
  • A history of cancer treatment
  • A history of other blood cancers
The risk factors for Hodgkin lymphoma are:
  • Advancing age
  • Male gender
  • A compromised immune system
  • Hereditary factors
  • A history of Epstein-Barr virus infection
The risk factors for non-Hodgkin lymphoma are:
  • History of chemotherapy
  • Exposure to radiation
  • A compromised immune system
  • A history of auto-immune infections like lupus
  • Exposure to harmful chemicals, pesticides, and insecticides

The risk factors for multiple myeloma

  • Advancing age
  • The male gender
  • Obesity

The symptoms of blood cancer

Blood cancer will manifest in any or a combination of these symptoms:

  • Persistent fatigue and weakness
  • Fever and chills
  • Frequent headaches
  • Skin rashes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Joint and bone pain
  • Bone fractures from a minor strain
  • Frequent infections
  • Night sweats
  • Nausea and loss of appetite
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, groin, or underarms
  • Weight loss

The diagnosis and treatment of blood cancer

The diagnosis of blood cancer begins with a physical examination and evaluation of the medical history. After that, recommended tests will include blood tests, imaging tests, bone marrow exams, and biopsies where necessary. 

The best blood cancer treatment in India will depend on the type of cancer, how quickly it progresses, spread level, and age. Treatment options include:

  • Chemotherapy– Chemotherapy involves anticancer drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells. It sometimes involves using several drugs together and comes with multiple side effects.
  • Radiation therapy– It uses high-frequency radiation to kill cancer cells or relieve pain and discomfort.
  • Stem-cell transplants– A stem cell transplant helps the body to produce healthy blood by infusing healthy blood-forming stem cells.
  • Surgery- A surgical procedure is sometimes necessary to remove the affected lymph nodes.
  • Immunotherapy– works by activating the immune cells to fight and kill the cancer cells.

The cost of blood cancer treatment

The cost of any of the above treatments is high worldwide. A survey indicated that the national average cancer care cost was Rs 1,16,218, a steadily rising figure. When estimating the total amount for the whole treatment process, consider these elements:

  • The medical expenses

These are the obvious, direct expenses of cancer care and include doctor consultations, diagnostic tests, bed charges, medicines, and other services like a blood transfusion.

  • The non-medical expenses

These constitute a smaller portion of the total cost yet are still significant and could become a burden if not planned for. These expenses include transport costs such as airfares, accommodation, food, and the cost of any escorting family members.

  • After-treatment expenses

Cancer patients need caregivers while they recover. A paid caregiver will constitute a direct expense. If the caregiver is a family member, there is still an opportunity cost since they can no longer go to work, for example. Other expenses include changing the diet, physiotherapy during recovery, and adjustments to accommodate the patient.

Tips for managing the cost of cancer

It is always better to be prepared to keep abreast of the financial burden:

  • Ask for a clear elaboration of the total cost. A doctor should indicate the cost of treatment and medication. Do not be afraid to ask what every treatment will cost. Discuss the alternatives until you arrive at a plan.
  • Understand the costs at every step of the way to avoid blindsiding by your failure to plan. Consider how the treatment costs will interfere with other household and utility bills and set up contingency plans for these.
  • Review all possible financial cushions. When getting an insurance policy beforehand, review what the policy covers and how much buffer it offers in the event of illness. Also, check what different hospitals offer and compare it against the quality. The best blood cancer treatment in India should offer exemplary quality at a reasonable price.
  • Manage the costs proactively. Be aware of all costs and know the figures covered at each stage, whether by insurance or from your pocket.

The cost of cancer care is high, but it is manageable with good planning. Do not wait to fall ill to start making medical plans. Instead, invest in an insurance plan offering comprehensive cover against critical illnesses including cancer, and educate yourself on the financial implications as soon as possible after the first prognosis. Book your Appointment Now

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