Part 2: The Impact of High Cancer Cost on Patient & Family

George T and M. S.Baliga in their paper Generic Anticancer Drugs of the Jan Aushadhi Scheme in India and Their Branded Counterparts: The First Cost Comparison Study. Cureus 13 (11): e19231 (doi:10.7759/cureus.19231) wrote:

  • The costs of cancer drugs are exorbitant and cause significant financial toxicity  to the affected patient and their family members.
  • Considering this, Jan Aushadhi pharmacy stores were established across the country by the government of India with the objective of providing cheap generic medicines to patients.

Indeed it is laudable for the Indian government to take such concrete steps to help the ordinary poor folks of the country.

In an article Unaffordable treatment ( Max Klein and Jörg Schaaber wrote:

  • According to the World Health Organization, medication for a woman with breast cancer costs $ 18,500 a year in India and $ 33,900 in South Africa. In both countries, that amounts to about ten times the average annual income.
  • Though prices are higher in the USA, treatment there only costs 1.7 times more than the average annual income.
  • In Ethiopia, the most widespread form of cancer is breast cancer. It is a death sentence for most of the affected women: about two-thirds die. In Germany, by contrast, two-thirds survive.
  • About half of Tanzania’s people live below the international poverty line of $ 1.90 a day. Sometimes, a cancer drug is even more expensive in poor African countries than in Germany.
  • In high-income countries, over 80 % of children with cancer survive for more than five years, in poorer countries their share is below 30 %.

Van Minh Hoang et al ( analyzed the household financial burden and poverty impacts of cancer treatment in Vietnam. They wrote:

  • As the costs of treatment for cancer are usually substantial, many households and individuals with cancer are facing financial catastrophes or are even pushed into poverty because of the costs.

Wenqi Fu and many fellow researchers  ( studied the Effects of cancer treatment on household impoverishment in China. They wrote:

  • The financial burden of cancer treatment imposes a significant risk of household impoverishment despite wide coverage of social health insurance in China.

Alifah Zainuddin in an article The Real Cost Of Cancer In Malaysia ( wrote:

  • The cost of treatment is also increasing … denying access to treatment to the very people who need them.
  • The estimated cost to treat cancer in Malaysia can go up to as high as RM395,000, though prices may vary based on the type of cancer, with different private hospitals charging different rates.
  • Example: For patient living with metastatic or advanced breast cancer:
  • Targeted therapy drug costs over RM6,000 per month for each cycle.
  • Chemotherapy drug costs more than RM5,500 every three weeks.
  • PET scan –  RM3,000 per scan.

In a paper Financial toxicity in Indonesian cancer patients & survivors: How it affects risk attitude

Stevanus Pangestu & Erwin Bramana Karnadi ( wrote: 

  • In Indonesia, cancer accounted for 13% of mortality in 2014.
  • Financial toxicity is a term used to describe the harmful financial burden faced by patients receiving cancer treatment.
  • The costs of cancer treatment in Indonesia remain high, and this circumstance may lead to financial toxicity. Health insurance does not eliminate financial distress among patients with cancer.
  • There should always be a proper physician-patient communication regarding the costs and affordability of cancer care.

In a paper Catastrophic health expenditure and 12-month mortality associated with cancer in Southeast Asia: results from a longitudinal study in eight countries published in MBC Medicine ( the authors wrote:

  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region consists of ten countries – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – and is home to over half a billion people.
  • The burden of cancer is increasing in the ASEAN region, due to population ageing and growth and the adoption of cancer-associated lifestyle behaviours.
  • Survival rates for most cancers are poor and quality of life is greatly impaired.
  • Cancer can have a profound economic effect on individuals and their households, especially among the poor and under-insured.
  • A cancer diagnosis in Southeast Asia is potentially disastrous, with over 75 % of patients experiencing death or financial catastrophe within one year.

ASEAN Costs in Oncology study ( discovered that:

  • 12 months after the (cancer) diagnosis, 29% of the patients had died and 48% experienced financial catastrophe.
  • The society has to be educated about the importance of  accomplishing financial security and
  • leading a healthy lifestyle.
  • As always, prevention is better than cure.

Cancer Situation In The United States Of American  – The Richest And Most Advanced Country.

Lastly, let us have a look at what the situation is in the United States – supposedly the most advanced and richest country in the world.