Bladder Cancer and Financial Toxicity
Last updated: March 2021
When you think of bladder cancer, have you thought about how expensive it is to treat bladder cancer and the ongoing economic impacts of ongoing treatment? When I was diagnosed with bladder cancer, I started to think about costs immediately due to having cystoscopies every three months.
Out of pocket expenses
Of course, if you have health insurance out of pocket expenses will vary. Typically for me, my out-of-pocket expenses is $250, and health insurance covers the remaining balance. For those patients who do not have health insurance, the cost of cystoscopies can range between $1640 and upwards of $3200 depending on if the procedure is done in the doctor's office or ambulatory surgery center.
Of course, then there is the cost of any over-the-counter medications that might be needed after the procedure or oral antibiotics might need to be prescribed to prevent infection. Most of these medications are relatively inexpensive, but of course, add to the cost of bladder cancer treatment.
Since bladder cancer has one of the highest recurrence rates, ongoing, invasive monitoring is required, and surely cystoscopies monitoring can drop back to every six months and yearly depending on how your doctor feels about the current monitoring schedule.
I decided I want to know more about the long-term cost of bladder cancer, so I turned to Google. I came across an article published by the US national library of medicine, which estimates treatment, can cost between $89, 287 and $202,202 pp over five years. We know survival rates are increasing with new therapies that are available, so these costs are sure to rise.
It adds up
Due to a recent bladder cancer recurrence I recently had six cycles of pembrolizumab, and the cost was over $53,000, so you can see it does not take much for the treatment cost to add up. There are additional costs bladder cancer patients can encounter if the doctor changes the treatment plan or other therapies are needed.
Then take into account that toxin and chemical exposure are a leading cause of bladder cancer so as cancer patients we have to pay very close attention to nutrition and what is in the food we eat. We should also pay very close attention to any cleaning product or personal care product we are using. I know for myself anything that comes into my home or personal care product is certified organic, non-GMO, and non-toxic.
Exercise and stress management
Then lastly how about the exercise and stress management. I think these two are vital parts of treating and preventing recurrences for myself. I take yoga classes weekly to help with relaxation and stress relief and do a group cardio kickboxing class two to three nights a week to increase strength and my overall fitness level. Both of these have costs associated with them of course.
If you would like to read a great journal that addresses the economic aspects of bladder cancer in more depth, check out the references below.
Editor’s Note: With heavy hearts, we regret to inform readers that on February 27, 2021, Curtis passed away from stage IV bladder cancer. Curtis’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to impact many. He will be deeply missed.
Has cancer impacted your mood during the holidays?