Majority cancer patients in India discontinue treatment due to unaffordability: Survey

Majority cancer patients in India discontinue treatment due to unaffordability: Survey
Most out of the 100 oncologists from across 15 Indian cities believe that majority of their patients stop treatment abruptly as they cannot afford the cost. A nationwide survey by Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance in partnership with Ipsos Research also found that almost 50 percent of cancer patients in the country pay out of their pockets for treatment as they do not have any insurance coverage.
The Edelweiss Tokio study with cancer specialists was to assess the state of cancer care in India and its impact on the patients. A majority of oncologists strongly believe that cancer incidences are likely to increase by almost 25 percent over the next five years. Breast Cancer is likely to account for a greater proportion of these incidences followed by lung, oral, and cervical cancers.
“The financial impact of cancer is glaring. While there are advanced treatments available, the staggering cost involved makes it unaffordable for several patients,” said Sumit Rai, managing director & chief executive officer, Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance, while announcing the survey findings.
Currently, a standard cancer treatment for early and locally advanced stages costs about Rs. 4.5 lakh, and for metastatic stage cancer about Rs. 6.0 lakhs. The financial burden increases sharply if a patient opts for advanced therapy. Across all cancer types, advanced therapy costs about Rs. 10 lakhs for locally advanced stage (stages 2 & 3) and about Rs. 14 lakhs for metastatic stage.
The study highlights the economic burden created by cancer care in India and it points out to the need of creating awareness on medical insurance, which is still lower in the country.
“The awareness about insurance for critical illnesses is quite low in India. Despite the escalating medical costs, a large population avails loans or sells their assets to provide for the massive medical expenditures,” Rai added.
The oncologists survey also indicates that while treatment cost increases, survival rates of patients drop as cancer progresses across stages. After a year of diagnosis, survival rate stands at 77 percent in early stage, lowers to 58 percent in locally advanced stage (stages 2 & 3), and it drops further to 45 percent in metastatic stage, the study emphasized.
These findings draw an ugly picture and more people must become cognizant of these facts. Early detection is extremely essential as it not only increases the patient’s chances of surviving at a curable stage, but also significantly reduces the cost of treatment, the study observed.

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