Mesothelioma treatment costs can can even reach over a million dollars.
Primary costs come from treatment itself, like surgery or chemotherapy.
Secondary expenses include travel costs, lost wages, interest on debt, and more.
Help is available for patients and their families to pay for the high costs of treatment.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer, and treating it often requires a range of expensive procedures, prescriptions, and palliative measures. These costs can accumulate quickly, rising into hundreds of thousands of dollars. In some cases, medical costs for mesothelioma can reach over a million dollars.
How much an individual has to pay for their mesothelioma therapy depends on a wide variety of factors:
- Tumor location and cell type
- Stage of the disease
- Whether the cancer has spread
- Overall health of the patient
- Age of the patient
- Where the treatment is administered
- Insurance coverage
Primary Costs of Mesothelioma Treatment
In most cases, the largest portion of the cost for treatment is related to diagnostic tests and the primary therapies used to fight the mesothelioma. These therapies can be administered in an attempt to eradicate the cancer altogether, or as part of a palliative care plan to relieve pain and symptoms of the disease.
Mesothelioma Diagnostic and Therapy Costs
CT: Up to $800 per scan
PET: Up to $2,800 per scan
MRI: Up to $1,600 per scan
Needle Biopsy: Up to $700
Minimally Invasive: Up to $5,000
Open Surgery: Up to $8,000
Chemotherapy: Up to $50,000 per course
Radiation Therapy: Up to $12,000 per treatment
Surgery: Up to $30,000
Note that these costs are only for the individual diagnostic procedures and therapies involved. Additional fees and costs may be incurred for anesthesia, blood tests, prescriptions, or consultation and follow-up visits to the doctor, among other things.
Experimental Treatment Costs
The costs for experimental treatments are not covered by insurance, meaning that patients or their families may need to pay for such therapies themselves. On the other hand, many new treatments may be covered by funds being used as part of a clinical trial. Eligibility requirements for experimental trials of treatments vary – mesothelioma patients should talk with their doctor to identify clinical trials they may be able to participate in.
Secondary Costs of Mesothelioma Treatment
In addition to the costs of treatment given as part of curative or palliative care, many mesothelioma patients and their families incur additional expenses related to their treatment plan. The amount and types of these costs will vary widely from person to person.
Common Secondary Costs of Mesothelioma Treatment
- Transportation to and from cancer centers
- Hotels or other accommodations
- Food while traveling
- Prescriptions and other medications
- Follow-up visits to primary care doctors and specialists
- Screenings and tests for recurrence
- Psychological and emotional care
- Lost income due to inability to work
- Interest on credit card debt or loans used to pay medical bills
These are just some of the types of costs that mesothelioma patients and their families incur as an effect of their treatment plans.
Alternative Treatment Costs
Many mesothelioma patients seek out complementary and alternative medical treatments to supplement or replace their primary therapies. In some cases, such treatments can provide relief of symptoms or even enhance the effectiveness of the main course of care. The costs of these alternative treatments can vary widely.
When considering alternative forms of care, it is incredibly important to consult with your doctors to make sure these supplemental treatments do not interfere with your primary therapy.
Common Types of Alternative Treatment Costs
Diet and Nutrition
- Vitamins and minerals
- Dietician consultation
- Herbal and dietary supplements
- Homeopathic remedies
- Yoga classes, clothing, and equipment (mat, block, etc.)
- Chiropractic manipulation or acupuncture
- Meditation seminars, apps, or music
- Massage or reiki sessions
- Arts and crafts supplies for art therapy
- Instruments or media for music therapy
These are just some of the costs associated alternative treatments that mesothelioma patients seek out. Additional costs may be significant depending on which complementary and alternative treatments are ultimately chosen.
Keeping Mesothelioma Treatment Costs Low
Although mesothelioma treatment costs are often high, there may be some ways to reduce the amount patients and their families have to pay.
Insurance: Many health insurance policies will cover at least some costs related to cancer treatment. Even in cases where the costs are not covered in full, having health insurance can help by reducing the fees that doctors and medical centers charge for certain services. Also, a specific type of insurance known as cancer insurance can be purchased by some people before a diagnosis.
Negotiation: In some cases, doctors and medical administrators may have access to resources (e.g., grants or other funding) to help patients pay for some types of procedures. Also, patients may be able to negotiate certain fees to be waived or reduced.
VA Benefits: Former service members diagnosed with mesothelioma who were exposed to asbestos while on active duty can have their eligible medical bills paid for by the Veterans’ Association. Treatment can be given at a VA medical center or other cancer clinic.
Government Coverage: Patients who meet certain age or income criteria may be eligible for coverage under Medicare or Medicaid.
Settlement or Other Compensation: Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure, and in most cases that exposure can be traced back to specific products or buildings. Seeking legal remuneration for asbestos-related disease is a basic right of consumers. Talk with a lawyer to understand what rights you may have.