Mesothelioma is a non-curative disease. However, some treatments can successfully improve the diagnosis of mesothelioma patients. In many cases, patients fighting mesothelioma have outlived their prognosis, but during all this time, they constantly need costly treatment. Additionally, the loss of their job also creates financial difficulties.
Moreover, the cost is different for various treatment types, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Different treatment providers and cancer centers might be charging a different rate too. Therefore, mesothelioma patients accumulate insurmountable debt, leading to additional stress. The extreme stress due to financial difficulties can negatively impact the patients’ health.
However, mesothelioma patients must contact an attorney because they may be eligible to file for compensation if they can successfully demonstrate that their illness is linked to asbestos exposure. The compensation can be a big relief for mesothelioma patients to help manage their financial burdens. In an out-of-court settlement, the average compensation amount is $1 million to $1.5 million. An average trial verdict amount can be even more — enough to assuage some of your financial difficulties. Nevertheless, if you want to know the cost of mesothelioma treatment, here is a succinct guide for your reference.
Cost of surgery
Mesothelioma surgeries are considered among the rarely conducted operations. The type of surgery performed on each patient also varies depending on their condition. Therefore, it is impossible to estimate the exact cost of surgery. Different surgeries performed on mesothelioma patients include palliative surgery, curative surgery, and diagnostic surgery. One thing for sure is that each surgery costs thousands of dollars. Therefore, financial assistance is often required. The financial benefit options available to mesothelioma patients include out-of-court settlements and court verdicts. The financial benefits are available for veterans, too, who have served in the US military.
Reports from the New York Times, Annals of Surgical Oncology, and Rare Tumors suggest the following cost for each surgery.
$54,000 for P/D
$16,000 for fluid drainage
$62,000 for EPP
$20,000 for cytoreduction with HIPEC
Cost of chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is another widely applied treatment method for treating mesothelioma patients. The treatment uses drugs to target the tumor cells and reduce their growth. The most frequently used FBA-approved chemotherapy drugs include Cisplatin and pemetrexed. The combination of these drugs is considered a premium for mesothelioma treatment.
Together, the cost of these drugs is $38,000. This is the cost of six treatment cycles, one cycle every three weeks. Other drugs are also used in chemotherapy. Therefore, the total cost depends on the drugs used and the number of rounds or cycles administered.
Cost of radiation
Radiation therapy is another traditional treatment prescribed to mesothelioma patients. According to the Rare Tumors, the cost of radiation therapy per patient is $9000. The estimate is based on the cost of radiation therapy in lung cancer treatment. Furthermore, the journal of oncology practice also upholds the same cost for radiation therapy. As mesothelioma develops on the outer linings of the lungs and spreads to other organs and tissues, this cost is considered for a rough estimation of the probable treatment cost.
Cost of Mesothelioma Immunotherapy
The two FDA-approved drugs used in immunotherapy are Opdivo and Yervoy. These drugs are administered together for better results in treating pleural mesothelioma patients. Both of these drugs are checkpoint inhibitors. A report in Reuters mentions that the cost of immunotherapy for each patient is around $250,000, approximately $21,000 per month. Other drugs are also used in immunotherapy, but they are not as recommended as the combo of Opdivo and Yervoy.
Cost of emerging treatments
Typically, the cost of emerging treatments is more than that of traditional treatments. Emerging treatments are still under trial and development. Researchers and scientists are reckoning their suitability for a range of patients with different conditions. They are only covered by insurance if FDA approves them.
The federal government, universities, and pharmaceutical companies often fund the Mesothelioma clinical trial. It can be extremely expensive for the patients to bear the entire cost. But the patients need to discuss the cost of treatment with their doctor before going forward with it.
Mesothelioma Diagnostic Costs
Mesothelioma costs not only include treatment costs but diagnostic costs too, and the latter can be equally high. There are high chances of misdiagnosis of mesothelioma. Almost all of its symptoms resemble that of less deadly diseases. Therefore, the oncologist may have to run various tests and scans to ensure their hunches about tumor development. The diagnostic tests reveal the cell type, location, tumor type, and staging and growth. Moreover, often mesothelioma patients are recommended to go for a second opinion, which means additional cost. Your medical insurance most probably does not cover these expenses.
Biomarkers and Blood Tests
Research is underway to study the mesothelioma biomarker to know about the blood tests that can accurately confirm a patient’s history of asbestos exposure. Only then can they suggest a treatment. Common diagnostic tests for mesothelioma include HMGB1, MESOMARK, Osteopontin, or Fibulin-3.
It might be hard to accurately evaluate the price as studying biomarkers is still a new field. These medical tests are denied coverage by medical insurance because many health insurance companies do not accept their necessity in mesothelioma diagnosis. Therefore, a patient must discuss the cost with their doctor before consenting to the tests.
Image tests can cost hundreds of dollars each time a patient needs a scan. The higher cost of imaging machines and their maintenance make imaging tests extremely expensive. Imaging test centers also need highly qualified experts to carry out the tests and analyze the scans. Common scans used for mesothelioma diagnosis include CT, MRI, X-ray, and PET scans. X-ray scans are the least expensive, and PET scans are the most expensive. Excluding insurance coverage, the cost of these scans can range from $800 – $1,600 for every scan. Patients must also understand that they may require multiple scans for confirmation.
Different types of biopsies have different price tags. Minimally invasive biopsies do not cost much compared to those that require surgical procedures. Types of biopsies include the following:
Minimally-invasive: laparoscopy, Thoracoscopy/pleuroscopy
Invasive: Laparotomy, Thoracotomy
Needle biopsy: Pericardiocentesis, Fine needle aspiration, paracentesis, thoracentesis
A common practice for oncologists is to start with the minimally invasive biopsy procedure. If the fluid and the tissue are not adequate, they may resort to more invasive biopsies to confirm the details of a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Cancer treatment is usually very expensive, and mesothelioma is no different. A patient will have to pay thousands of dollars for various diagnostic tests and complicated procedures. However, in this financially distressing time, compensation received through a mesothelioma claim can be a ray of hope, helping the patients with their medical expenses and other financial difficulties.