How Much Does Each Treatment Cost?
The cost of each mesothelioma treatment depends on the patient’s individual treatment plan, the health care providers they choose, and their insurance coverage.
The following amounts are based on the cost of lung cancer treatment, which is comparable to mesothelioma treatment.
- Chemotherapy: A 2013 cost-effectiveness study of Alimta (pemetrexed) plus cisplatin reported a total cost of $40,102 for first-line mesothelioma treatment. The cost varies depending on the exact drugs used, how many rounds are given and other factors specific to each patient.
- Surgery: Pleural mesothelioma surgery is comparable to lung cancer surgery. A stage 1 lung cancer patient could pay more than $26,000 in monthly surgery costs. But the cost of surgery depends on the specific treatment center and surgical techniques used.
- Radiation Therapy: According to a 2015 study of radiation therapy for cancer patients with Medicare, the median cost of a course of radiation for lung cancer was $9,000.
- Immunotherapy: Reuters reported in 2017 that the cost of checkpoint inhibitors can be around $150,000 annually. The combination of Yervoy and Opdivo, which has shown promising results for mesothelioma patients, can cost $256,000 per year.
For most patients, health insurance covers most of the costs of cancer treatment but still leaves major bills for patients to pay out of pocket.
Some treatments may be more affordable than others. An April 2021 study reported on the safety and effectiveness of continuous infusion low-dose Gemcitabine plus cisplatin (CIGC). This chemotherapy regimen may be a more affordable option for patients with unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma.
What Are the Hidden Costs of Mesothelioma Treatment?
Medical bills are only part of the total financial cost of having mesothelioma.
Additional expenses related to cancer treatment include lost income, caregiving costs and expenses for travel and lodging when your treatment center is far from your home. A mesothelioma patient or their caregiver may not be able to work during treatment. Many American families go into debt after a cancer diagnosis.
When a cancer patient runs out of financial resources, they are at risk of financial toxicity. This is when patients cannot fully benefit from their treatment plan because they are too stressed out and they cannot afford to fill all their prescriptions.
Careful financial planning is vital to the health and happiness of a mesothelioma patient and their family.
How to Pay for Mesothelioma Treatment
To help pay for mesothelioma treatment and related expenses, patients should investigate government programs, charity resources, clinical trials and the possibility of filing a legal claim for compensation.
If you are younger than retirement age but unable to keep working, you may be able to receive monthly income through Social Security Disability Insurance. If you are over retirement age and you have very low income, you can apply for Supplemental Security Income.
If you are a U.S. veteran, you may be eligible for low-cost cancer treatment through the VA medical system. If your mesothelioma diagnosis resulted from military asbestos exposure, you can file to receive VA disability benefits and fully covered health care.
Many hospitals, companies and nonprofit groups provide financial assistance to lower the cost of treatment or provide free travel and lodging for patients who have to go to a faraway medical center. A hospital social worker or mesothelioma patient advocate can help you find these resources.
Sometimes patients can receive free treatment by participating in clinical trials of experimental therapies. Not every mesothelioma patient qualifies for clinical trials, but it is always worth it to research what clinical trials are currently recruiting.
Mesothelioma is almost entirely preventable. Most cases trace back to asbestos exposure caused by a company’s negligence, so it is not fair that patients should have to shoulder the burden of paying for cancer treatment.
An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help you evaluate your options for seeking legal compensation. In case you decide to file a legal claim, make sure you keep track of all your insurance claims and out-of-pocket expenses. These records can help you build your case later.