Cancer

Cancer Treatment in Nigeria:How much does breast cancer treatment cost in Nigeria?

Cancer Treatment in Nigeria:How much does breast cancer treatment cost in Nigeria? Cost of breast cancer treatment in Nigeria, understanding the cost of cancer treatment in Nigeria.

To successfully treat breast cancer in Nigeria or any other forms of cancer, you will need to spend close to 15 million – 30 million Naira.

How is this possible? Let us discuss….

This article will answer the following questions:

➡️Medical costs  of cancer treatment in Nigeria

➡️Cancer drugs in Nigeria

➡️Free breast cancer treatment in Nigeria

➡️Cost of radiotherapy in National Hospital Abuja or any teaching hospital in Nigeria

➡️Cancer treatment price in Nigeria

➡️How much is breast cancer surgery in Nigeria?

➡️How much does treatment for breast cancer cost?

➡️Cost of mastectomy in Nigeria.

➡️Cancer treatment centres in Nigeria

➡️Cancer treatment hospitals in Nigeria

➡️Cancer foundations in Lagos

➡️cost of breast cancer treatment in Nigeria

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I am a certified medical doctor. I am going to take your through the journey of treatment for breast cancer for a 61 year woman who presented to our hospital with advanced breast cancer stage 4. In total, she spent close to 20 million to be successfully treated for her breast cancer… She is currently doing well going by reports from her last check up.

The money in terms of the cost of breast cancer treatment in Nigeria will include:

1. Consultation
2. Cost of hospital stay or hospital admission
3. Cost of tests
4. Cost of biopsy
5. Cost of histology to confirm whether it is cancer of the breast or not
6. Cost of drugs you will be administered while on admission
7. Cost of blood transfusion (you will need blood except you are a Jehovah’s Witness)
8. Cost of surgery proper
9. Cost of chemotherapy before or after surgery.
11. Cost of radiotherapy (if necessary)
10. Cost of followup.

This article is a step by step breakdown of the cost of treating breast cancer in Nigeria using a woman I was involved in her breast cancer management as reference point.

Presentation:

Having declined mastectomy one of the teaching hospitals, she finally presented to our clinic with an advanced metastatic, bleeding, smelling and ulcerated breast cancer (cancer has spread to her lungs). She was very weak, emaciated and anemic. She was short of blood. Her packed cell volume was 18 percent.. She could barely walk. I admitted her and she paid an admission deposit of #100,000 Naira.

She needed blood, she was transfused

We needed to resuscitate her. We took her sample for some blood work, I needed to know her blood group to ease blood transfusion. She was eventually transfused with 5 pints of O positive blood…. A pint of blood cost about #10,000 and with 5 pints, she paid a total of #50,000 for transfusion. Cost of treatment has started accumulating.

Tests

Now that she was stable (now with a PCV of 33 percent), her ulcerated left breast was cleaned and dressed. She was thereafter sent to the lab for some blood, and radiological tests. These investigations were necessary to know how stable she was for surgery (breast biopsy) and also to determine whether the cancer has spread to other parts of her body especially her spine, liver, brain, bones, kidneys, other breast, ovaries, and so on. This tests will also check the condition of her heart and her ability to tolerate chemotherapy (when the need arises)

Below are some of the routine tests we request our cancer patient to do and the cost:

1. Cranial CT(to check if there was spread to the brain): #32,000 naira
2. Full Blood Count: #2,000
3. Liver Function tests: #4,000
4. kidney Function Test: #5,000
5. Abdominal scan: #5,000
6. Lumbar spine X ray: #5,000
7. RVS TEST: #1,000
8. Breast scan (both breast): #5,000
9. Chest X-ray: #6,000
10. Other baseline tests: #20,000
11. Sometimes MRI scan may be requested by your doctors and this will cost you close to #100,000 Naira.
12. ECG for the heart function: #4,000

Now the total amount this breast cancer patient has spent for ancillary investigation is close to #100,000 Naira.

She had biopsy to confirm diagnosis

As it was now clinically evident that she was stable for surgery, we took her to theatre to take tissue from the cancerous left breast for a special test called histology… She spent about #80,000 Naira for both the biopsy and histology test. Because she bled so much during the biopsy, she was transfused with 2 pints of blood to replace the blood she lost… (an ulcerated cancerous breast bleeds a lot even from a gentle touch let alone surgery).

Histology report of biopsy and Neoajuvant Chemotherapy

Histology report confirmed she had advanced breast cancer.. We decided to work her up for surgery – left breast mastectomy to remove the malignant breast tumour. But before the surgery, we needed to downsize the breast with chemotherapy. This is known as neoadjuvant chemotherapy… This neoadjuvant chemo will help reduce the size of the cancerous breast, help differentiate the cancer breast tissue from healthy breast tissue, make the rumour operable especially as regards wound closure, help attack cancerous cells that might have spread to other parts of the body, make surgery less cumbersome, reduce bleeding during the mastectomy and improve prognosis.

Cancer treatment for breast cancer in Nigeria is expensive

The 61 year old patient therefore had two courses of neoadjuvant chemotherapy made up of methotrexate, cyclophosphamide, paclitaxel, and doxorubicin. After the first course of chemo, the patient had to wait for at least 3 weeks for the second course of chemo.

As regards cost, this women paid about #400,000 for her two courses of neoadjuvant chemo. A course of chemotherapy for breast cancer cost about #150,000 with other ancillary drugs + baseline investigations that will certify you fit for chemo.

Her condition greatly improved but the cost of treatment was beginning to tell on her.. She has already spent close to 3 million Naira for her breast cancer treatment but this is not the end… She is just starting the journey.

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Surgery Proper

After the neoadjuvant chemo, the breast was now operable. We invited a specialist General Surgeon, Plastic Surgeon, and a specialist Anaesthetist to do the mastectomy. During the surgery, she was transfused with 3 pints of blood. Surgery was very successful. The hospital told her to pay #650,000 Naira for the left breast removal surgery. Don’t forget that the clinic will also have to pay the General, Surgeon, Plastic surgeon, Anaesthetist and theatre nurse for performing the surgery.

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Post Surgery

She was with us in the hospital after surgery for postoperative care and wound care for about a 6 weeks. She was placed on antibiotics, painkillers, and other medical medications. Routine blood tests were carried out access her recovery. Luckily, there were no complications… Surgical wound on the left chest healed satisfactorily after 6 weeks. The woman and her relatives were very happy. According to her, “you have removed shame from my body”. She said she had to stop going to church and other social gatherings due to the bad smell of the cancerous left breast. She even said a woman mockingly told her she was smelling.

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Another round of chemotherapy and maybe radiotherapy

Her breast cancer treatment was not over, she will need to get another 6 courses of adjuvant chemotherapy. We invited a Specialist Oncologist (cancer doctor) to administer the chemo. The price of course of chemotherapy for breast cancer was around #150,000 excluding the Oncologist’s fees. The interval between one course and the next course is 3 weeks.

Baseline tests like full blood count, kidney function test, liver function test were also carried out before each course of chemotherapy (to ascertain her fitness level and ability to tolerate or excrete the by products of the chemo). After thorough counselling on the possible side effects of chemo and after giving consent, she was placed on some common available breast cancer drugs in Nigeria which include methotrexate, cyclophosphamide, paclitaxel and doxorubicin. Though she was was not eligible, some oncologists request cancer patients to go for radiotherapy after the 6 courses of chemo and you know this is an added cost.

In total, this woman spent a total of 3 million Naira for her adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer alone.

READ ALSO: Understanding the Cost of chemotherapy in Nigeria

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Followup Treatment

After her last course of chemo, she has been coming to our clinic for followup treatment every 4 weeks. She was requested to do Chest X-ray and abdominal scan every 4 to 6 weeks, brain scan and breast scan of the right breast every 6 months just to be sure there were no “leftover” cancer cells that might have spread to other parts of the body. She was also expected to do some blood tests during these periods. I know she spent about #50,000 per visit for her followup treatment for breast cancer. She doing fine now and she recently celebrated her 62nd birthday. She is now a breast cancer survivor!

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Conclusion

A university professor or even a medical doctor cannot successfully fund his/her cancer treatment without insurance. If they do and they survive, they will end up poor and may spend the rest of their days battling poverty. This is the reality nobody talks about.

What do I mean by this statement? Cancer treatment is very very expensive in Nigeria and even in the developed countries. You can see this my patient spent close to 15 million Naira ($40,000) for her successful breast cancer treatment and it is still not over yet. Some cancer treatment centres/hospitals in Nigeria may charge more or less for breast cancer treatment but it will still be expensive. The cost burden of her cancer treatment would have been reduced by accessible health insurance like the NHIS.

Moreover, there are some non-governmental organisations in Nigeria called CANCER NGOs that offer free treatment for breast cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer uterine cancer and so on.

The medical costs  of cancer treatment in Nigeria is expensive and government agencies, private bodies and spirited individuals have a role to play to reduce the cost burden. Kudos to some cancer foundations in Lagos, Abuja, Benin-city and Port Harcourt who have been footing all or part of the treatment for cancer patients.

Let us fight cancer together!! We can cut the cost of breast cancer treatment in Nigeria together.

This article is the intellectual property of Dr Udomoh for ©NIMEDHEALTH

This post was last modified on August 10, 2020 11:35 am

Udomoh Eshemokha

I am a practicing medical doctor, a philosopher, critical thinker, a globalist, a patriot, SEO expert and a patient blogger.

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Udomoh Eshemokha