As an oncologist, I try not to think about the cost of treating a patient with cancer. What I want is a good outcome. If my husband was diagnosed with cancer, I would want the best care at any cost. Wouldn’t we all? Unfortunately, there are limited resources. I am not rich; my family is not rich and even if we were money doesn’t buy health. The cost of cancer care is staggering. The results are often less than amazing. Health care is the number one reason for bankruptcy in our country.

Ten years ago, the average cost of chemotherapy was $5,000 a month. It is now $10,000 a month with the average cost of one year of chemotherapy at $100,000. 11 out of 12 chemotherapy agents cost over $10,000 a month. The new class of cancer treatment drugs are predicted to add $50 billion dollars a year to cancer costs. The American Society of Clinical Oncology predicts by the year 2020 the annual cost of cancer care will reach $207 Billion dollars in the U.S.

This is not to imply that all cancer treatment costs are chemotherapy related by any means.   There are other costs such as surgery, radiation therapy, hospitalization, support services, medication etc. None of this is cheap.  Per the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the average cost of cancer care per patient was $85,201 in 2010-2011.

The financial burden on a family is enormous. With higher deductibles and higher copays the average family , will find it more and more difficult to afford cancer care. It is bad enough to have the physical and emotional stresses that a diagnosis of cancer brings but then add the financial burden to this.

What can you do as a patient who has been recently diagnosed with cancer?

  1. Advocate for yourself or get someone to be your advocate-become active in your treatment plan. Take notes. Write down questions.
  2. Keep copies of your medical records. Yes, these are yours to request. I always offered copies of records to my patients and told them to keep a copy for themselves and offer a copy to all new doctors. Records can be hard to get sometimes and this speeds up the process. What records: All consults, Pathology reports, Radiology Reports, Operative Notes, Hospitalization discharge summaries, Histories and Physicals and records of any other procedure you may have had done. Keep them forever.
  3. Request that your case be presented at a Cancer Conference. This is where a number of cancer specialists sit down and discuss your case and treatment options. There is no charge for this. Every person with cancer is unique and if you are told you are not then go somewhere else
  4. Get a second opinion if you have any doubt at all. Your Oncologist should be glad to set this up for you. It doesn’t mean you are going to get your care elsewhere, just that you want someone else to look over your case. If your doctor does not want to do this-run to another doctor.
  5. Ask a lot of questions. What are the side effects of treatment? What is the outcome? What is the difference in Progression Free Survival and Overall Survival? Why do I need this treatment? If I don’t get this treatment what will happen? What are the costs of this treatment vs other treatments? What is my life expectancy with and without treatment?

 

If you have not been diagnoses with cancer , what can you do?  There is no way to prevent cancer but you can decrease your risk.

  1. Stop smoking. Yes, it’s hard. Get over it.
  2. Don’t be around smokers. Keep them out of your house and car.
  3. Check for Radon
  4. Even if it’s ½ hour walk. A study has shown that exercise may be as advantageous as chemotherapy for breast cancer patients. I am NOT saying refuse chemotherapy. Take chemotherapy if that is what your Oncologist recommends but think of the added benefit if you exercise.
  5. Eat properly. We all know what that means. Yes its hard. I am guilty. But I keep trying and so should you.
  6. Try to maintain a decent weight. I grew up with Twiggy as the national standard of beauty. I am of Italian descent- Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida -Ok so I don’t quite look like them, but Italians are curvy-MOST women are curvy. Even though Twiggy is beautiful in her own way, there is no way I could ever look like that. We won’t go into my body image problems as I don’t want to bring a tear to your eyes. Needless to say, whatever your body type try to maintain a decent weight. A few pounds overweight-OK-100 pounds overweight not OK.
  7. Back on the weight thing. Weight really does matter. Several cancers are linked to increased weight. An example is Uterine cancer. Being obese may increase your risk over six times the average and 40% of all uterine cancers are directly related to obesity.

In addition to the above, ingredients in CoVitale-7 have been shown to decrease the incidence of certain cancers. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine 2015 showed that taking nicotinamide twice a day at a certain dose decreased the incidence of non-melanomatous skin cancers by 23%. A study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed that patients with colon cancer or breast cancer had better outcomes if their D3 levels were maintained. An aggressive form of prostate cancer has been linked to low D3 levels. These references can be seen on our website, www.theolakinocompany.com. After years of being a Board Certified Oncologist, I co-founded The Ola Kino Company, which has developed CoVitale-7. Look at the website and look at the references and judge for yourself.