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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > Cancer Treatments > Liver Cancer Treatment

Liver Cancer Treatment Cost


How Much Does Liver Cancer Treatment Cost?

 
average costWith Health Insurance: Copays + 10%-50% Coinsurancehigh costWithout Health Insurance: $50,000-$500,000

Liver cancer treatment typically involves surgery, which can involve partial liver removal or total removal with a transplant. Other treatments include cancer-targeting drugs and radiation.

Typical costs:

  • For patients with health insurance, out-of-pocket costs for liver cancer treatment typically consist of doctor visit, lab and prescription drug copays as well as coinsurance of 10%-50% for surgery and other procedures, which can easily reach the yearly out-of-pocket maximum. Liver cancer treatment typically is covered by health insurance, although individual drugs or treatments might not be covered by some plans.
  • For patients not covered by health insurance, liver cancer treatment can cost up to $50,000 or more for targeted radiation therapy. It can cost about $50,000-$100,000 or more for partial removal of the liver, depending on the provider and whether there are complications. It can cost $150,000 or more for a year of treatment with targeted therapy drugs, and more than $500,000 if a transplant is required.
  • According to Vimo.com, a health care cost comparison website, the average list price for partial removal of the liver is almost $40,000. According to the site, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, in Maryland, has the lowest list price for the procedure at a little over $23,000. At Baptist Memorial Health Care, in Tennessee, surgery on the liver[1] can cost $60,000 without complications, but costs can increase to $100,000 with major complications.
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery, a targeted radiation treatment sometimes used for liver cancer, typically costs $12,000-$55,000.
  • At DrugsDepot.com, 120 tablets of the brand-name targeted therapy drug Nexavar cost $11,935, or about $99 per pill. If a patient takes the typically recommended dose of four pills per day for liver cancer, the drug would cost about $145,200 per year.
  • A liver transplant, sometimes used as a treatment when cancer has not spread outside the liver, can cost up to $575,000 or more, including pre-transplant screening, donor matching, the surgery and the first six months of medication.
Related articles: Biopsy, Abdominal Ultrasound, Chemotherapy, Radiation Therapy, Liver Transplant, Health Insurance

What should be included:
  • Surgery typically is recommended for liver cancer. In some cases where the tumor originated in the liver, is small and has not spread, partial removal of the liver can cure the cancer. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 10%-20% of primary liver cancers (cancer that originates in the liver rather than spreading from somewhere else) can be completely removed with surgery. In cases where a partial removal will not work, but the cancer has not spread outside the liver, a total removal of the liver followed by a transplant might be recommended.
  • For advanced cases, especially when the cancer has spread, targeted therapy[2] might be used. The drug sorafenib (brand name Nexavar), which is taken in pill form twice a day, blocks blood vessel formation around the tumor and targets proteins that help the cancer grow.
  • Liver cancer tends to be resistant to chemotherapy[3] , according to the American Cancer Society. However, inserting the drug directly into the hepatic artery might make it more effective.
  • Traditional radiation therapy can damage the healthy part of the liver. But, doctors sometimes use targeted radiation[4] techniques, such as stereotactic body radiation therapy, which uses focused beams of radiation, or radioembolization, in which a small radioactive device is inserted into the liver.
  • The American Cancer Society offers an overview of liver cancer treatment by stage[5] .
Additional costs:
  • If a transplant is required, the patient will need to take anti-rejection drugs for life. According to the California Pacific Medical Center, the drugs needed long-term[6] , which could include the anti-rejection drug Prograf as well as Prednisone, can cost more than $3,000 per month. These drugs are typically covered by health insurance.
Discounts:
  • Many hospitals give discounts of up to 30% or more to uninsured/cash-paying patients. For example, Washington Hospital Healthcare System[7] in California offers a 35% discount.
  • The American Liver Foundation provides a list of organizations[8] that might offer financial assistance, or free or low-cost services, to patients with liver cancer.
  • Some companies offer free cancer drugs to uninsured patients who cannot afford the drugs. For example, Bayer has a patient assistance program[9] that provides free Nexavar for a year.
Shopping for liver cancer treatment:
  • The Society of Surgical Oncology offers a surgical oncologist locator.
  • The National Cancer Institute offers a guide[10] to finding a doctor or cancer treatment facility.
  • The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients offers a transplant center locator[11] by address.
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
 
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External Resources:
  1.  www.baptistonline.org/expense-navigator/get-started/
  2.  www.cancer.org/cancer/livercancer/detailedguide/liver-cancer-treating-targeted-the...
  3.  www.cancer.org/cancer/livercancer/detailedguide/liver-cancer-treating-chemotherapy
  4.  www.cancer.org/cancer/livercancer/detailedguide/liver-cancer-treating-radiation-th...
  5.  www.cancer.org/cancer/livercancer/detailedguide/liver-cancer-treating-by-stage
  6.  www.cpmc.org/advanced/liver/patients/topics/finance.html
  7.  www.whhs.com/about/washington-hospital-discount-policy-for-uninsured/
  8.  www.liverfoundation.org/downloads/alf_download_892.pdf
  9.  www.nexavar-us.com/scripts/pages/en/patient/patient-support/reach/
  10.  www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/doctor-facility
  11.  www.srtr.org/csr/current/Centers/Default.aspx
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