Cost of Treatment for Cancer: Experiences of Patients in Public Hospitals in India

  • Nair, Kesavan Sreekantan (National Institute of Health and Family Welfare) ;
  • Raj, Sherin (National Institute of Health and Family Welfare) ;
  • Tiwari, Vijay Kumar (National Institute of Health and Family Welfare) ;
  • Piang, Lam Khan (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  • Published : 2013.09.30


Background: To assess the treatment pattern and expenditure incurred by cancer patients undergoing treatment at government tertiary hospitals in India. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study of 508 cancer patients randomly selected from tertiary cancer hospitals funded by central/state governments located in major cities of five states in India, namely Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Mizoram, during March - May 2011 was conducted. Information related to direct costs, indirect costs and opportunity costs incurred on investigations and treatment, major source of payment and difficulties faced by patients during the course of treatment was collected. Results: About 45% of the patients used private health facilities as the first point of contact for cancer related diseases as against 32% in public hospitals. About 47% sought private health facilities for cancer investigations, 21% at district/sub-district hospitals, and about 4% contacted primary health care facilities. A majority of the patients (76%) faced financial problems while undergoing treatment. Conclusions: The results highlight the importance of involving the primary health care system in the cancer prevention activities.


Cancer;cost of treatment;investigations;direct cost;indirect cost


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