Today, we will be discussing How much does radiation therapy cost in Australia. So sit tight as we unravel the essentials you ought to know.
You must be aware of the cost of radiation therapy in Australia, as this will give you a better idea of how much money you should set aside if you experience any health problems that are related to cancer.
Although cancer patients in Australia are only responsible for paying a very tiny fraction of the total costs associated with their care, the out-of-pocket expenses they incur can nevertheless range anywhere from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars. Because of this, the price of radiation therapy in Australia has dropped by a significant amount.
Let us gain a fundamental understanding of what radiation treatment is before we go on to the next topic.
What is radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy, often known as radiotherapy, is a form of cancer treatment that involves exposing patients to high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and reduce the size of tumors. Radiation is used in X-rays at low doses so that doctors can see inside patients’ bodies.
For example, an x-ray of your teeth or broken bones uses radiation. Radiation therapy can kill cancer cells or slow their growth by damaging their DNA at high enough doses. Radiation therapy kills cancer cells. Cells with DNA that is so severely damaged that it cannot be repaired either stop dividing or die.
When the injured cells die, the body degrades and eliminates them by breaking them down into smaller pieces.
Most of the time, when people talk about “radiation therapy,” they mean “external beam radiation therapy.” The high-energy beams that are used in this form of radiation treatment originate from a machine that is placed outside of your body and directs the beams to a specific location on your body. Radiation is introduced into your body via an alternative form of radiation therapy known as brachytherapy (brak-e-THER-uh-pee).
Radiation treatment does not immediately eliminate cancer cells in the body. It may take several days or weeks of treatment before the DNA of cancer cells is sufficiently disrupted to cause cell death. After this, cancer cells continue to die for several weeks or months after radiation therapy has stopped being administered.
Types of radiation therapy
Radiation therapy can be broken down into two primary categories: internal and external beam radiation.
The type of radiation therapy that may be recommended for you is determined by a variety of criteria, including the following:
- the specific form of cancer
- the volume of the tumor, its location within the body, and the proximity of the tumor to normal tissues that are vulnerable to the effects of radiation are all important factors.
- your overall health as well as your medical background
- and whether you will undergo any other types of treatment for your cancer.
- other considerations, such as your age and any other illnesses you may have.
- External beam radiation therapy
External beam radiation therapy comes from a machine that aims radiation at your cancer. The machine is quite massive and likely produces a lot of noise. Although it does not make physical contact with you, it can travel around you and emit radiation to different parts of your body from a variety of angles. External beam radiation therapy is a local treatment, which means it treats a specific part of your body.
For instance, if you have lung cancer, you will only have radiation to your chest and not to your entire body because the cancer is localized to your lungs.
Internal radiation therapy
Internal radiation therapy, which is more commonly referred to by its alternate name brachytherapy, is the second most common type of radiation treatment.
During this type of treatment, a radiation-containing implant is placed in or close to the area where the cancer is located.
Systemic radiation therapy
Internal radiation therapy can also take the form of something called systemic radiation therapy.
For this treatment to work, the patient must consume a radioactive substance. Once inside the body, the substance searches for and destroys cancerous cells.
Another option is for a qualified medical expert to administer the radioactive chemical to a patient by intravenous injection.
Both external beam radiation and brachytherapy provide the same therapeutic effect. Both of these treatments are considered to be local therapies since they only target a specific region of the body and eliminate cancer cells by focusing beams of high-energy radiation on the diseased tissue. However, the radiation coming from the two treatments comes from different sources.
Radiation for a brachytherapy treatment originates from an implant that a physician inserts near or directly into a tumor. The radiation for external beam radiation originates from a machine that is placed outside of the patient’s body.
How radiation therapy is used in people with cancer
Radiation therapy is a component of the treatment for cancer that is administered to more than half of all cancer patients. Radiation treatment is used to treat virtually all types of cancer by medical professionals. Radiation therapy can be beneficial in the treatment of some benign tumors as well as cancerous ones.
At various points throughout your treatment for cancer, and for a variety of reasons, including the following, your oncologist may bring up the possibility of radiation therapy as an option for you.
Too far, chemotherapy is the sole (main) treatment for cancer.
- To reduce the size of a malignant tumor before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy)
- Following surgical removal, to halt the multiplication of any lingering cancer cells (adjuvant therapy).
- In conjunction with other therapies, such as chemotherapy, to kill cancer cells
- In severe cases of cancer, to relieve symptoms brought on by the cancer
What to expect before radiation therapy
Both external beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy begin with a planning discussion to determine the best course of action.
The patient will be examined by a physician, questioned about their current state of health, and then the treatment will be discussed. Imaging services may be requested from them on occasion.
When considering the use of external beam radiation, a patient will often participate in a planning session known as a simulation, during which they will meet with a radiation oncologist and a radiation therapist.
The radiation therapist might make a few insignificant traces on the patient’s skin to indicate where the energy beams should be aimed. These identifiers can take the form of a temporary mark or a permanent tattoo, according to there.
In addition, medical experts might make a body mold that they put the patient in during radiation therapy to make sure that they are in the appropriate posture to receive treatment.
A person who is undergoing radiation therapy to the head or neck may be required to wear a face mask to secure their position while undergoing treatment. Exactly what to anticipate while undergoing radiation therapy.
The sort of radiation therapy that a person receives will determine what kinds of things to anticipate during their radiation treatment.
- External beam radiation
A person receiving treatment with external beam radiation therapy will normally recline on a table beneath a huge machine while the session is in progress.
After ensuring that the patient is properly positioned within the machine, the radiation therapist will then go to the next chamber.
During the therapy, the individual will need to attempt to maintain a motionless position; however, they will not typically be required to hold their breath.
The machine will make sounds similar to those of a spinning fan, clicking mechanisms, and a vacuum cleaner.
During the radiation therapy session, the patient can communicate with the radiation therapist using a speaker system located in the room.
- Internal radiation therapy
In brachytherapy, the radioactive implant may be inserted into a patient via a thin tube known as a catheter or a larger tool known as an applicator. Both of these medical tools are used by the person’s treatment team.
When the catheter or applicator has been properly positioned, the physician will insert the radiation source into the catheter or applicator.
Before the implant is removed by the doctor, it may be necessary for some instances for it to remain in the body for up to a few days (Reliable Source).
In other cases, the doctor might only leave the implant in the body for a shorter period, say 10–20 minutes, and then continue to administer the treatment at regular intervals for a period that could last many weeks.
The catheter or applicator will be removed by the doctor once the treatment plan has been completed in its entirety.
In some cases, an implant will remain in the body permanently; nevertheless, it will eventually cease to release radiation after a certain amount of time has passed.
- Results of radiation therapy
If you are undergoing radiation therapy to treat a tumor, your physician may recommend that you undergo periodic scans after your treatment to assess how well the radiation therapy has worked in treating your cancer.
There is a possibility that the treatment will have an immediate effect on your cancer. In other instances, the response from your malignancy could take a few weeks or even a few months. Radiation therapy does not work for everyone who undergoes it.
What is the cost of radiation therapy in Australia?
Even for patients who have been given the same cancer diagnosis, the financial burden of radiation therapy can be extremely variable.
According to research that was published not too long ago by the Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF), fifty percent of Australians who have cancer have out-of-pocket payments that are higher than five thousand dollars.
More than one in four people who were diagnosed with cancer paid out-of-pocket expenses totaling more than $10,000 over two years, and one in three paid between $2,000 and $4,999.
- Who pays the most in receiving radiation therapy in Australia?
Breast and prostate cancer are known to attract exorbitant out-of-pocket costs for some patients.
The ministerial advisory committee’s report on out-of-pocket costs found that patients were charged up to $5000 for breast cancer surgery, $3000 for pathology, and $5000 for radiation treatment, all out-of-pocket.
A 2018 Queensland study of more than 452 patients with one of the five most common cancers (melanoma, breast, prostate, lung, and colorectal) found the median out-of-pocket costs were highest for breast cancer patients (costs ranged from $1165 to $7459) and prostate cancer patients ($971 to $8431).
According to the findings of a different study, men with prostate cancer had out-of-pocket expenses that averaged $9205, with some patients incurring costs that were more than $17,000.
In the pursuit of a conclusive diagnosis, patients who have uncommon or less common forms of cancer may find themselves bouncing from expert to specialist, accumulating a battery of tests and scans, and piling up mounting medical fees at each stage of the process.
Their treatments are less likely to be covered by the pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS) than medicines for more common cancers, and crowd-funding sites are populated by pleas from desperate families trying to raise the cash needed for unsubsidized or experimental treatments, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. In some cases, the pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS) does cover the cost of treatment for rare cancers.
- What are out-of-pocket costs?
It refers to any additional payments that patients and their families are required to make for any healthcare services provided inside or outside of the hospital that is not covered by Medicare or private health insurance.
Patients who have been given a cancer diagnosis are propelled forward on a winding path of appointments, tests, and treatments, all of which can attract out-of-pocket costs. These costs can range from diagnostic scans and consultations with specialists to medications, radiation therapy, surgery (including the fees charged by anesthetists), and even rehabilitation.
You may be required to pay the whole amount for services that are eligible for rebates from Medicare or private health insurance.
Medicare pays for approximately 63% of the overall costs associated with cancer treatment. This percentage varies depending on the type of cancer a patient has, ranging from 51% for prostate cancer patients to 89% for lung cancer patients.
Frequently Asked Questions about the cost of radiation therapy in Australia
See below for the answers to the most asked questions about How much does radiation therapy cost in Australia;
- How much does radiotherapy cost in Australia?
Radiotherapy is generally free in public facilities. The problem is that roughly 50 percent of public radiotherapy is now provided by the private sector, which increases the chances of patients incurring out-of-pocket fees.
- What is the average cost for radiation treatment?
For patients not covered by health insurance, radiation therapy can cost $10,000-$50,000 or more, depending on the type of cancer, several treatments needed, and especially the type of radiation used.
- Does Medicare cover the cost of radiation therapy?
Private health insurance does not cover the cost of these out-of-hospital medical services. Medicare also subsidizes the cost of radiation therapy in private clinics.
- How much do chemo and radiation treatments cost?
Generally, if you have health insurance, you can expect to pay 10 to 15 percent of chemo costs out of pocket, according to CostHelper.com. If you don’t have health insurance, you might pay between $10,000 to $200,000 or more.