- Alternative cancer treatment
- Cancer treatment
Experimental cancer treatment cost benefit analysis
Experimental cancer treatment cost vs. benefit and how not to lose valuable time
It is hard to think about the experimental cancer treatment cost for anyone who is fighting a terrible disease like cancer. However, affordability of cancer treatments, and particularly alternative cancer treatments is an important subject. It needs to be addressed alongside the benefits of the experimental cancer treatment. Anyone with a diagnosis of cancer may be overwhelmed with many different feelings. Sometimes it is anger, sometimes sadness, hopelessness, or worry and fear. Experiencing those feelings is also common, if we have close relatives who have been diagnosed with cancer. Often, in situations like this, fast decisions should be made, and we need to know exactly where we stand to make the right choice. Time is gold, and if we don’t want our judgment to be clouded by conflicting feelings, information is the key to choose wisely.
In a number of scenarios cancer patients may want to try other choices besides the standard treatment protocols. Cancer in advanced stages, in some patients may, not respond to standard therapies. In these cases, clinicians may present patients with experimental treatment options. In other cases, patients and their families will seek out new treatment options on their own. Such search will inevitably raise questions. What information is relevant when analyzing an experimental cancer treatment? Is it safe? How can we decide whether or not to proceed with it?
Common Concerns about Experimental Treatments
A common misconception about experimental treatment is that patients may undergo a new procedure with a goal to test its outcomes on them. This is not the case with most legitimate experimental treatments. Only some clinical trials of very new treatments may put a patient in such position, and that would require patients’ consents.
The truth is that cancer research continues to offer new and genuine opportunities for better therapies. Many of them have repeatedly been compared with the standard therapies, showing better outcomes. Only after extensive process of laboratory tests and a long list of preliminary stages are met, experimental treatments are offered to wider population.
Some cancer patients may learn about very new experimental treatment options, as well as those that exist for a long time. One of such “old new” experimental treatments is regional chemotherapy. Yet, some patients feel that asking their physician about them would be perceived as a form of criticism towards physician’s recommendations. However, physicians should understand more than anyone that diseases such as cancer do not always respond well to standard treatment alone. What’s more, it would be optimal, if they could present their patients with the available range of options, including experimental treatment options, which are appropriate for their cases. Potentially, a multimodal treatment protocol could be a good answer in many cases.
Many victories against cancer happened by way of innovative experimental treatments, and that is why they should be an accessible option for cancer patients. Some experimental treatments show good clinical experience, improvement in survival and in cancer remission rates. What’s is not less important is the quality of patient’s life, which standard protocols like systemic chemo or extensive irradiation can impair.
Paying the Bill: experimental cancer treatment cost
Lastly, any cancer patient should take financial concerns seriously. Many insurance plans do not cover experimental procedures. It is prudent to read the contract of your medical plan to know the list of exclusions and limitations. Insight into your financial affairs will help you to establish whether you can afford the experimental cancer treatment cost.
One of the reasons why insurance plans do not cover experimental treatments is because that they are unaware potential side effects. However, some experimental procedures such as regional chemotherapy have even fewer side effects than standard many standard therapies, including systemic chemo.
Furthermore, it is reasonable to consider an alternative or experimental cancer treatment with a significant price tag, as long as it is affordable for the patient or patient’s family. In such cases a consult with individual’s accountant or financial advisor should be in order.
Ethics and Regulations of Experimental Cancer Treatments
A set of ethical rules and regulations protects patients during experimental treatments. Nowadays, the National Institute of Health regulates clinical trials and the FDA issues regulations to protect the consumer.
All procedures and experimental treatments, including regional chemotherapy, comply with the same ethical principles. The principle of beneficence, which involves not harming and maximizing the benefits for patients, takes precedence. The principle of justice and the informed consent makes it possible for patients to access assistance and to understand the level of potential risks before they move forward with any procedure. Adherence to these regulations protects patients who elect to undergo experimental treatments that have shown successes in the past.
It is important to note that not losing valuable time does not mean making hasty decisions. Many people with cancer feel desperate and might sign an informed consent with high hopes. However, no matter how desperate you feel, take the time to read and fully understand the treatment options and the reasons why it may work in your case. Carefully examine the possible risks and discomforts, and consider your financial abilities and risks closely, as previously mentioned.
Narrow your choices to make your decision
There are many different procedures and treatments aside from the standard cancer treatment protocols. Equally diverse are the types of cancer, and in the case of each patient, there may be an entirely different set of circumstances. For this reason, it is not possible to provide a complete chart of appropriate experimental treatment for each individual case. However, it is still possible to narrow your choices for the appropriate treatment in most cases.
For example, regional chemotherapy increase the concentration of chemotherapeutic agents in the required area of the tumor site. It also may break through tumor chemo-resistance when systemic chemo fails. Many questions and answers may guide you towards experimental treatments.
By obtaining an honest assessment of your prognosis from your medical team, you should be able to make a somewhat informed decision on suitability of experimental therapies. There will be questions to ask both the treatment provider and yourself. Is your type of cancer easily curable through a surgical procedure? Does systemic chemotherapy offer best outcome with your type of cancer? Is your 5-year survival rate less than 10 percent? A very hard question to answer for some is “Am I willing to take chances when there are no guarantees?
Questions to ask your oncologist and experimental treatment provider:
- What is my prognosis with the standard treatment?
- What is this experimental treatment about and what is the theory behind it?
- Where is the experimental treatment takes place, and what are the requirements?
- Is it possible to pursue the experimental treatment along with the standard procedures?
- How many people with my condition have received this treatment?
- What are the outcomes in cancer patients? Did they have complete or partial remission?
- How will I know the experimental therapy is working?
- What side effects should I expect to experience? How severe are they and how long will they last?