Cancer Treatment in India
Cancer treatment is available at an affordable cost in India, especially in comparison to the Western countries such as the US and the UK. Cancer is a life-threatening condition that may prove fatal if the treatment is not initiated on time. In fact, the cost of cancer treatment in India is one of the biggest reasons why thousands of people from around the world decide to travel to India to avail facilities. The list of best cancer specialists in India includes some of the big names, including doctors from Apollo, Max Healthcare, Artemis, Dharamshila, Medanta, Fortis, Wockhardt and Columbia Asia.
The top cancer hospitals in India are equipped with all the latest and modern technology used for the treatment of cancer patients. In addition, cancer surgery hospitals in India house some of the best medical talents who hold a great expertise in handling all sort of cancer cases, from simplest to complex. Cancer treatment in India is not just restricted to surgical removal of a tumour and chemotherapy, but all advanced treatment methods such as external radiation, brachytherapy, immunotherapy and stem cell therapy can be availed. The availability of the latest technology and quality treatment is what makes cancer hospitals India some of the best in the world. On top of that, affordable and cheap cancer treatment cost in India and almost negligible waiting time are the two other biggest advantages of getting treated in the best cancer hospitals in India.
What Is Cancer
In simple terms, cancer refers to an abnormal growth of cells in the body. This abnormal growth of cells can take place in any part of the body, including, lungs, breasts, kidneys, bladder, colon, skin and prostate. Cancer cells or tumours can either restrict themselves to their place of origin (benign tumour) or travel to other parts of the body (malignant tumour). The signs and symptoms of cancer depend on the type, extent and severity of the condition.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Cancer
Signs of cancer
All cells that undergo unregulated growth to form a mass of cell or lump (tumours) are characterised as cancer when they show the following signs:
- Continuous cell growth without any signalling
- Continuous cell growth even under inhibition signalling
- Limitless cell division
- Programmed cell death evasion
- Blood vessel constriction
- Metastases and invasion of other tissues
There are no visibly identifiable signs and symptoms of cancer when it begins in a specific body part.
Symptoms of cancer
Symptoms of cancer, which depends on the type of cancer, start to appear when the mass of cells starts to multiply or forms an ulcer. Cancer symptoms can “imitate” the symptoms caused by anther condition that the cancer patient already has. Symptoms of cancer can be divided into the following three categories:
- Systemic symptoms
- These are the general set of symptoms that may or may not be related to the spread of cancer. Some of these cancer symptoms include changes in the skin, persistent fever, excessive fatigue and unintentional weight loss.
- Local symptoms
- These cancer symptoms typically appear in and around the region where cancer begins and typically occurs because of proliferating mass or ulceration. For examples, colon cancer may narrow down or block the bowel, leading to changed bowel habits. Similarly, lung cancer can block the bronchus, leading to pneumonia or a persistent cough. Blood may appear in a cough mucous, urine or through rectum in the case of ulceration.
- Cancer cells may sometimes spread to other parts of the body, a condition known as metastasis. The symptoms of metastatic cancer may vary and depends on the exact location of the tumour. Some of these symptoms include enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged spleen, pain, fracture and the enlarged liver.
Types Of Cancer
Cancers can be categorised into different types according to their place of origin in the body or the types of cells that the effect first. According to the type of cells they start in, types of cancer cells can be categorised into the following:
- These are the type of cancer cells that appear in the skin or the outer lining of the internal organs in the human body. Carcinomas can be again of different types, such as transitional cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.
- Cancers belonging to this category start in the connective and supportive tissues such as bones, cartilage, muscle, blood vessels and fat.
- Commonly referred to as blood cancer, leukaemia affects the tissues that form blood cells, such as bone marrow. This leads to the production of abnormal blood cells that are circulated into the body.
- Myeloma and lymphoma
- This category of cancer begins in the cells of the immune system, including the spleen, white blood cells and lymph glands.
- Cancer of the brain and spinal cord
- This type of cancer affects the central nervous system that comprises of the brain and the spinal cord.
Out of all the types of cancer cells, carcinomas account for more than 80 percent of the total cancer cases reported. There are several common types of cancer, according to where they start in the body.
The top most commonly diagnosed cancer types include:
There are several common types of cancer, according to where they start in the body:
- Skin cancer
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Blood cancer
- Blood cancer
All Cancer Types:
Rare types of cancer:
There are more than 200 different types of cancer that are diagnosed each year around the world. However, a majority are rare types of cancer that affect only a few people each year.
- Male breast cancer
- Urethral cancer
- Cancer of the fallopian tube
- Penile cancer
- Sertoli cell tumour
- Tonsil cancer
- Tongue cancer
- Heart cancer
Best Cancer Hospitals
Cancer treatment in India can be availed at affordable costs. Some of the top oncologists in India specialise in conducting cancer-related procedures with the help of state-of-the-art technology and specialised techniques.
Cancer occurs when the cells divide uncontrollably and there is no cell death. There are a number of reasons that can trigger this uncontrolled growth of cells. Typically, normal cells get converted into cancerous cells when their DNA gets damaged and there is either no repair of the DNA or natural cell death. However, the cancerous cells continue to divide and give rise a cascade of other abnormal cells, leading to the formation of a mass of cells. This damage to the DNA can be triggered by a number of factors, which can be categorised into environmental factors or genetic factors. It is estimated that 90 to 95 percent of cancer cases reported each year are because of an exposure to environmental factors (radiation, exposure to pathogens, tobacco, and carcinogens).
The following are the top 10 causes of cancer:
|Tobacco||It is the leading cause of lung cancer. It is estimated that more than 90 percent of the lung cancer cases result because of an exposure to the chemical contained in tobacco smoke, which contains more than 50 known carcinogens, including aromatic hydrocarbon and nitrosamines.|
|Chemicals||An exposure to alcohol and other work-related chemicals and substances such as benzene and asbestos fibres have been linked to lung cancer and leukaemia.|
|Lifestyle factors||Physical inactivity, obesity, higher body mass index (BMI) and lack of exercising are some of the lifestyle-related factors that have been linked to the development of several types of cancer. These factors can have a direct impact on the immune and endocrine system.|
|Infection||Viruses, bacteria and other parasites may cause an infection, resulting in cancer. Among viruses, human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B, hepatitis C and Epstein-Barr virus are common cancer-causing agents. Among bacterial species, Helicobacter pylori may cause gastric carcinoma.|
|Radiation||An exposure to ionising (medical imaging, radon) and non-ionizing (ultraviolet sunlight, mobile phone, power transmission) radiation has been described as cancer risk factors.|
|Genetics||Sometime the genes that increase the risk for certain type of cancer are inherited within a family. Genes linked to breast cancer and ovarian cancer are some examples of such forms of cancer.|
|Hormones||Sometimes the levels of certain hormones dictate the extent of cell proliferation. Levels of hormones such as progesterone, oestrogen and testosterone, for example, dictate the development of sex-related cancer such as the cancer of the breasts, ovary, prostate and endometrium.|
|Food||There is a list of food items that, directly or indirectly, may contribute to the development of cancer. Canned foods, grilled red meat, genetically modified food items, high-salt and fried foods, carbonated beverages, refined sugar and white flour are some of the food with a potential to increase the risk of cancer.|
|Mutations||Mutation refer to small, spontaneous changes in the DNA. These can occur at any point of time and can be triggered by a number of factors, including an exposure to chemicals. Mutations introduce small changes in the DNA sequence, which may or may not increase the risk of cancer.|
|Autoimmune diseases||Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are some of the autoimmune disorders that have been linked to an increased risk of cancer.|
Diagnosis Of Cancer
The cancer diagnosis may be conducted as soon as the patient shows specific symptoms or if preventive screening tests for cancer turn out to be positive. The doctor may first ask questions about family and personal history before conducting a physical exam and lab tests (blood, urine, body fluids). Based on the preliminary findings, one or a combination of following imaging tests may be conducted to make a diagnosis of cancer:
- Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
- Nuclear Scans
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
After imaging or in parallel, doctors may even decide to conduct a biopsy to make the cancer diagnosis. During the procedure, a sample of tissue is taken from the affected site with the help of a needle, an endoscope or through surgery. The removed tissue is observed under a microscope to check for the extent of cancerous growth.
Treatment Of Cancer in India
There are different types of cancer treatment available in India, the choice of which may depend on the type of cancer, the health status of the patient, age, stage of cancer and the severity of symptoms. Most often, either one or a combination of following procedures to treat cancer are opted by the doctors based on their diagnosis:
|Available cancer treatments in India:|
|Surgery||This is one of the oldest form of cancer treatment, suitable for tumours that have not metastasized to travelled to other parts of the body. Surgery helps remove all the cancer cells together, thereby completely curing the cancer patient. In cases where cancer has spread to other tissues and organs, it may become difficult to remove all the cancer cells. Surgery can still be used to remove a portion of cancer cells or to control cancer symptoms such as the obstruction in bowel or spinal compression.|
|Radiation||This procedure to treat cancer makes use of high-energy gamma radiation to damage cancer cells within the body. It may be used as a standalone procedure or in combination with other forms of treatment.|
|Chemotherapy||This form of cancer treatment makes use of specific chemicals and drugs that damage the cell proteins or DNA, thereby stopping its multiplication and rapid division. Chemotherapy is typically used for the treatment of cancer that has spread to other tissues since chemicals can travel throughout the body with the help of blood.|
|Immunotherapy||Sometimes doctors decide to boost the immune system of the patient to fight cancer. In this procedure to treat cancer, immune-boosting substances are injected at the affected site to reduce inflammation or shrink the size of the tumour. It can also be injected to improve the body’s overall defensive system against cancer. The therapy can be non-specific or targeted to act against specific types of cancer cells.|
|Hormone therapy||This type of cancer treatment in conducted in the case of cancers dictates by specific hormones, such as ovarian, breast and prostate cancer. Hormone therapy alters the production of hormones in the body such that either the cancer cells are killed completely or their multiplication stops.|
|Gene therapy||This is a relatively new form of treatment for cancer that works by replacing the damaged DNA with working pieces of genetic material. However, more research is required in this field to see accurate results.|
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Side effects of cancer treatments:
There are a lot of physical and psychological side effects associated with cancer treatment such as radiation, surgery and chemotherapy. For example, surgery can result in pain after treatment that goes over a period of time. While weight loss, nausea, constipation and mood swings are some of the common side effects of cancer treatment, there are several long-term side effects associated with radiation and chemotherapy.
Methods to lessen the physical and psychological effects of cancer:
- Changing the outlook to focus on things that can be improved on changed, and not on aspects that cannot be modified.
- Talking about feelings and emotions or joining a support group for help.
- Opting for healthier choices in your lifestyle.
- Meeting professional counsellors for personal, group or couple therapy sessions.
- Trying out relaxation techniques such as Yoga, meditation and laughter therapy.
Some of the complications of cancer that patients can experience after treatment include weight loss, nausea, fatigue, difficulty in breathing and constipation. In severe cases, cancer may reappear in the same or some other part of the body or cause problems related to the nervous system and brain.
Cost Of Cancer Treatment in India, Malaysia, Thailand & Uae
The cost of cancer treatment in India, Malaysia, UK, US, Thailand and UAE depends on the type of cancer, the complexity involved, duration of stay in the hospital, doctor’s fees, the type of hospital and the level of care and services being offered. Typically, cancer patients require a few sittings of radiation therapy or chemotherapy that last over a period of time. While the fundamental treatment method remains the same, the cost of radiation therapy and cost of chemotherapy varies in each country and according to the type of hospital opted for.
Hospital Wise Cost of Cancer Treatment
The cost of cancer treatment may change based on the hospital that is selected. For example, treatment of common types of cancer, such as lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer may cost a little bit more in multi-specialty, private hospitals such as Medanta The Medicity and Fortis Memorial Research Institute. On the other hand, government-funded institutions tend to provide treatment at fewer costs. However, private healthcare institutions offer specialised and quality medical care with the help of state-of-the-art technologies. Even though they prove to be a bit expensive, the cost of cancer treatment in India is still less as compared to other countries, such as the US and the UK.
Country Wise Cost of Cancer Treatment
The cost of cancer treatment varies greatly from country to country. For example, total mastectomy, that is, complete removal of breast suffering from cancer may cost around $22000 in the US. On the other hand, the same procedure, performed with the expertise, costs around only $7000 in India. Similarly, removal of a lump from the breast costs around $15000 in the US and only $3000 in India. As far as chemotherapy for lung cancer treatment is concerned, the procedure cost settles around $21000 in the US and around $3000 in India. Prostate cancer treatment is yet another procedure with the huge difference in costs between the two countries. While radical prostatectomy may cost around $24000 in the US, it costs only $3600 in India. Malaysia, Thailand and the UAE are yet another destination with the affordable cost of cancer treatment as compared to developed countries such as the US and the UK. The cost of procedures to treat cancer in these countries is almost the same as what it costs in India.
Treatment-Wise Cost of Cancer
The cost of cancer treatment also depends on the type of treatment that the doctor decides to conduct and for what duration. For example, radiation therapy typically costs less than chemotherapy. While one round of cancer treatment using radiation therapy may cost anywhere between $1700 and $4000, one month’s supply of drugs for chemotherapy may cost anywhere between $4000 and $10000. Moreover, chemotherapy is generally continued for a period of three to six months, and two to three cycles of treatment are conducted each week.
|Average Cancer Treatments Cost In India||Procedure Cost (USD)|
|Bone cancer treatment||$6500+|
|Brain Cancer Surgery- Craniotomy||$9000|
|Brain Cancer Surgery – Micro Surgery||$12000|
|Brain Cancer Surgery – Gamma Knife Surgery||$6500|
|Colon Cancer Treatment – Complete Medical Evaluation||$1500|
|Colon Cancer Treatment – Cryosurgery||$7500|
|Colon Cancer Treatment – Polypectomy||$3000|
|Colon Cancer Treatment – Bowel Diversion Surgery||$6000|
|Cervical cancer treatment||$6000|
|Head and neck cancer treatment||$5500|
|Leukaemia cancer Treatment||$6000|
|Radio Frequency Ablation – Liver Cancer||$14000|
|Liver cancer treatment||$8000|
|Lung cancer treatment||$8000|
|Oral Cancer Treatment||$4500|
|Whipple Procedure – Pancreatic Cancer||$8000|
|Total Pancreatectomy – Pancreatic Cancer||$8000|
|Radical Hysterectomy – Pancreatic Cancer||$5000|
|Laparoscopic Radical Prostatectomy||$7000|
|Prostate cancer treatment||$4000|
|Stomach cancer treatment||$8000|
Note: The treatment costs vary from case to case and a specialist review is advised to determine the best procedure/approach for treatment. Several external factors also impact the cost & quality of treatment including the method of treatment, room category and several other factors. Please contact Lyfboat Care Team for a personalised quote and advise.
After Cancer Treatment
After cancer treatment gets over, patients are required to visit the doctor for routine follow-up medical check-ups and cancer care. The follow-up routine checks may involve a few imaging tests, blood test, endoscopy or other lab tests. Patients should inform doctors about any changes, symptoms or side effects that they are experiencing after cancer treatment. It is important to visit oncologist regularly for follow-ups so that recovery of the patient can be assessed and any chances of cancer recurrence after cancer treatment are identified beforehand.