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An Overview of the Treatment Costs for Colon Cancer

written by: Rishi Prakash • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 4/10/2011

Colorectal cancer is the second major cause of cancer death and the third most common melanoma in the United States, behind lung and breast cancer. It is therefore, important to know the cost of treatments for colon cancer and the various treatment options.

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    What is Colon Cancer?

    Colon or rectal cancer is a severe disease, which is characterized by the formation of malignant cells in the tissues of the colon. There is another term for this type of cancer, which is called colorectal cancer. It is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer in the United States. The disease is found in the large intestine. Every year, about 150,000 people suffer from colorectal cancer in the United States. Most of the cases are found in people above 50 years of age, however, the disease can be effectively cured if diagnosed earlier.

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    Colon Cancer Treatment Options

    There are various types of treatment alternatives available for colon cancer. Some treatments are standard that are being used while others are being tested in clinical trials. There are three standard treatment methods available including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Among the three treatment methods, surgery is the most common treatment for all stages (4 stages) of cancer.

    Stage A: This is the early stage of colon cancer, but does not penetrate the inner wall

    Stage B: Penetrates the bowel wall, but no incursion of the lymph nodes

    Stage C: Indicates partial invasion into the lymph nodes

    Stage D: This is the most advanced stage and indicates the presence of tumor, lymph node invasion

    However, the treatment option depends on various factors such as the stage of the cancer, whether the cancer has recurred, and the patient’s general health. First of all, it is important to spread awareness among people. If the disease is screened early, it can be treated effectively and without spending too much money. Screening tests can locate precancerous polyps, which can be detached before they become malignant. Now the most vital question is when should one go for screening? One should go for screening after turning 50, and then keep on getting screened at usual intervals.

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    Cost of Treatments for Colon Cancer

    The cost of colon cancer has been the subject matter of various scientific investigations. These investigations were most likely encouraged by recent screening initiatives and efforts to increase public awareness of colon cancer. Cost estimation effectiveness of colon cancer screening in the elderly is difficult because of the imprecision in screening effectiveness.

    Correctly estimating the direct medical cost of cancer is pertinent to policymakers weighing new choices for cancer prevention and control, screening guidelines and treatments. If colon cancer screening is not effective in the elderly, then it is definitely not cost-effective. On the other hand, if colon cancer screening is effective in minimizing the risk of cancer and death then the ratio of net health care costs to a measure of effectiveness can help policymakers conclude whether the strategy is worth its costs and risks.

    Though getting rid of cancer is the main goal of every treatment regime, doing so without spending an excessive amount of money is a good upshot to the main goal. As colon cancer causes a fairly high amount of cancer related deaths with similarly high price tag for advanced stage treatment.

    Treatment strategies are often extremely intricate. Unless diagnosed very early, colorectal cancer will widen and make easy excision through surgical means almost unfeasible. Thus, several costs, in addition to the surgeon’s fee must be taken into consideration:

    • Surgeon’s fee
    • Chemotherapy fees
    • Drug fees
    • Radiation therapy fees
    • Hospital fees
    • Anesthesiologist fees

    Though the cost of treatment of colon cancer depends on the severity of the disease (Stage: A, B, C, and D), it has been estimated that if the disease is diagnosed early then the cost of therapy will be much lower as compared to the cost of treating late cancer. It is therefore, important to spread awareness about the disease and more emphasis should be given on screening in order to effectively treat the disease at lower costs.

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    References:

    (Web): Colon Cancer Treatment -- http://ci.med.nyu.edu/cancer/colon

    (Web): Cost of treating colorectal cancer -- http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081107172110.htm

    (Web): Colorectal cancer screening -- http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/screening/

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