Type of Surgery

Actual Costs of Cancer Surgery

Last updated: 04/08/2009


Introduction to Surgical Oncology
Surgical oncology is a term that encompasses all manner of surgical operations designed to remove malignant cancer cells from the body. Simply stated, these procedures require that the surgeon cut into the infected area and excise as much of the tumor as possible. Realistically, this seemingly simple concept is often extremely difficult to execute. Depending on the size, severity, location, and centralization of cancer cells, a cancer operation can get complicated quickly. Nevertheless, surgical oncology is a treatment with well-proven results for many patients and is often chosen as part of the treatment plan for everything including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, cervical cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, and brain cancer.
Costs of Surgical Oncology

Because cancer surgeons can operate on such a wide range of conditions, the cost of surgical oncology must be calculated on a case-by-case basis. A tumor that has been identified early and that has not had time to metastasize will require relatively less effort—and often money—than a late-stage tumor of the same type. In addition, there are certain areas of the body that make it much more difficult for a surgeon to operate; the brain is a more delicate and volatile structure than the stomach, for example. Your age, health, and medical history are also crucial components in deciding that final figure. Just remember that the cost estimate for your cancer surgery needs to be heavily personalized beforehand.
The cost of cancer surgery also cannot be extricated from the overall cost of cancer treatment. Remember that surgical methods rarely stand alone in combating cancer—most patients undergo a mix of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, drug therapy, and surgery. According to a 2008 article from HealthDay News, chemotherapy and drug therapy often prove to be the more expensive portions of this four-pronged plan of attack. Each patient should weigh this against the actual dollar cost of cancer surgery. 
Actual Costs of Cancer Surgery
Let’s throw a few numbers into the mix. HealthDay News reports that the average cost of treatment for lung cancer was $39,891 as of 2002. Breast cancer costs were $20,964 and prostate cancer costs were $41,134. However, cancer costs are continuing to rise at a rate of about 15 percent a year.
This is where many forms of assistance can step in. Your insurance provider should be able to shoulder a good portion of the cost; however, it’s always advisable to read the fine print carefully. You might need extensive drug treatment before or after cancer surgery, for example, but not all insurance companies will cover all drugs. Certain pharmaceutical products may be labeled as specialty—and you could be subject to a sticker shock when your provider slams the full bill on you. Do the research while you still have options. Make thorough inquiries; if cost is a concern, you need a full picture of the pros and cons of potentially more expensive options.


Last Updated: 04/08/2009

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