The Human Costs of Cancer:

Recovering from cancer costs more than just money

In addition to the numerous emotional and financial costs of cancer treatment, cancer victims bear another very important loss: battling cancer steals losts of time.

During traditional cancer treatments, many hours are spent sitting in doctors' waiting rooms, at the hospital for CT scans and chemotherapy. A recent study found that the first year of treatment alone costs patients $2.3 billion in lost time for the first year of treatment alone--and for many patients, their battle with cancer is longer than one year, and many times they have recurring battles with cancer. This study was based on people treated for the eleven most common kinds of cancer.

In just the first year after being diagnosed with cancer, it turns out that cancer treatment eats up:

*368 hours of time for those with ovarian cancer
*272 hours of time for those being treated for lung cancer
*193 hours of time for those being treated for kidney cancer

The shocking part is that these figures don't even account for the many days spent home in bed recovering from surgery or feeling weak and tired from chemo. These hours quoted simply account for time spent at the medical facility.

The Human Cost of Cancer is Very Substantial

"What we see here is a measure of the patient's burden of commitment," wrote Drs. Larry Kessler of the Food and Drug Administration and Scott Ramsey of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, in an accompanying editorial for the study published Wednesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. "Cancer is more than the just the dollars and cents for the medicines and the treatments and the doctors. It's also the lost opportunities for the patients," says Dr. Len Lichtenfeld of the American Cancer Society. And because these diseases rob society of fully functioning individuals available in the workplace and community, cancer plays an important role in policy-making, such as how dollars should be allocated to medical research. However, it is not always easy to pinpoint the precise value of a patient's time spent receiving healthcare for cancer. One thing that's for sure is that the wasted time is costly, however.

The study also revealed something of importance to patients' day-to-day lives, Lichtenfeld noted: types of cancer that tend to be diagnosed early--when they're more curable--require less treatment time. This highlights the importance of prevention and screening as opposed to just treating full-blown cases.

The study also highlights the importance of newer "targeted" cancer treatments that promise fewer severe side effects and often allow patients to be treated with pills at home instead of in a clinic, added Kessler and Ramsey. "Targeted" cancer treatments work on the actual area of cancer and do not strain the patient's entire body as much as older cancer treatment methods. The doctors called on manufacturers to do research on the costs of patients' lost time due to recovery from cancer treatments, and proposed that insurers might better cover new drugs that reduce recovery time.

Natural Alternatives to Costly Treatments

Essiac tea is an herbal supplement that is believed to support the immune system and detoxify the body. Taking essiac tea requires almost no time and has few to no side effects which means that recovery time is nonexistent for most people. Essiac tea can be taken right at home, with no trips to the hospital or even the doctor's office required. For individuals with health concerns, essiac tea is a simple, painless and cost-effective supplement to add one's health regimen both to prevent health problems and to accelerate the body's healing. The herbs in essiac tea have been shown to reduce tumor size and prevent tumors from expanding. The herbs in essiac tea have also been shown to boost the immune system. Click here to view essiac tea studies. Click here to see information on essiac tea research.

It only takes 10 minutes to brew essiac tea, and essiac tea is prepared once every two weeks, making it a very manageable thing to add to one's health regimen. The lack of side effect for most individuals makes essiac tea a viable option who are concerned about lost time spent at treatment centers or recovering from the side effects of treatment. Essiac tea is one valuable weapon in the war against the human costs of health care treatment.