Almost 50% of cancer patients pay out of their pockets for treatment, an Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance study shows. Also, 92% oncologists believe a majority of patients discontinue treatment due to unaffordability. These findings are part of a study by Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance in partnership with Ipsos Research. It was conducted with 100 oncologists across 15 cities to assess the state of cancer care in India and its impact on the patients.
A majority of oncologists believe that cancer incidences are likely to increase by almost 25% 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. While there are advanced treatments available for cancer, the staggering cost involved makes it unaffordable for several patients, said Sumit Rai, MD & CEO, Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance.
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 lakh. The financial burden increases sharply if a patient opts for advanced therapy. Across all cancer types, advanced therapy costs about Rs 10 lakh for locally advanced stage (stages two and three) and about Rs 14 lakh for metastatic stage.
"The awareness about insurance for critical illnesses is quite low in India. Despite escalating medical costs, a large population avails loans or sells assets to provide for the massive medical expenditures," Rai added.
While treatment cost increases, survival rates of patients drop as cancer progresses across stages.