A cancer diagnosis is hard. You have to make many important decisions and make them fast. One of the critical decisions you have to make is which cancer hospital to choose for your cancer treatment.
A city like Bangalore has many cancer hospitals and each will claim it’s the best. So how does a patient decide which is the right hospital for their case? Here are six pointers for you to compare and choose the right cancer hospital.
Do you want to go a government cancer hospital or private cancer hospital?
Pros of a government hospital: Bangalore has one government cancer hospital – Kidwai Institute of Oncology. This is Karnataka’s regional cancer center. Thousands of cancer patients visit Kidwai from all over the country seeking cancer treatment. It is one of the best government hospitals indeed. They have invested in world class medical infrastructure and have many oncologists. Cost of treatment is free for BPL patients. For those without BPL card, cost of cancer treatment is still nominal compared to private hospitals.
Cons of a government hospital: Unfortunately, the treatment waiting time in Kidwai can range from 6 weeks to 3 months. In case of cancer, this is very precious time for a cancer patient. Since the hospital caters to mass volumes of patients, especially from those from Below Poverty Line (BPL) and lower income group, you will have to wait weeks for just a test report. There are no digitised records or video consultation facility. You may get less than 5 minutes time with an oncologist (maybe junior resident). The general hygiene is low. If you are not availing services under BPL scheme, you are better off with a private hospital. You can most certainly get a second opinion from Kidwai if you want.
In private hospitals, though the cost of treatment is higher, patients get ample time with the oncologist to discuss their case and treatment. There are many private hospitals that offer latest cancer treatments in Bangalore.
Should you choose a cancer hospital or a multi-speciality hospital?
There are some hospitals that only treat cancer, however that does not necessarily mean they are the best to treat your case. Multi-speciality hospitals with dedicated cancer or oncology departments are also a great choice. Especially if the patient has co-morbidities e.g. cardiac condition, kidney diseases etc. along with cancer, a multi-speciality hospital has all departments and specialists (cardiologist, nephrologists, urologist etc.) who can work with your oncology team. In a cancer hospital, doctors who are not oncologists are generally available on-call visiting basis only.
Does this cancer hospital have the super-specialists you need?
Cancer is becoming a super-specialised field. Modern treatment protocols are changing every day. Oncologists are super-specialising in treating cancers of a specific organ. They have dedicated focus on the organ and treat high numbers of cases in that specialisation. They are well-versed with latest treatments coming up for that organ. If possible, look for super-specialists for breast oncologist, gynaecological oncologist, uro-oncologist, head and neck oncologists, ortho-oncologists, neurosurgeons for brain tumors etc.
Does this cancer hospital have the required cancer medical infrastructure?
Not all cancer hospitals in Bangalore are equally equipped to treat cancers. Some hospitals have the infrastructure to treat common cancers such as breast cancer and oral cancer but may not have the infrastructure needed to treat brain cancer or urology cancers. E.g. most cervical cancers need a type of radiation therapy called Brachytherapy. Only a handful of cancer hospitals offer this technology. Prostate cancer can benefit from Robotic surgery vs. other traditional methods. But only few hospitals have robotic surgery and onco-surgeons who can be trained to operate Robotics. So research every cancer hospitals for the completeness of cancer infrastructure as per international standards.
Does this cancer hospital have good treatment success rates?
This is the real indicator of how well patients are being treated at the best cancer hospitals. Its almost impossible to find this information. Unfortunately, this data is not tracked or disclosed by hospitals in India. Try to assess the success rates of cancer hospitals based on feedback from patients who’ve been treated there (looking at treatment outcomes and survival rates), completeness of cancer infrastructure as per latest technology, case loads of patients. High volume cancer hospitals have wider exposure to rare and complex cancers. Their oncologists will most likely have the expertise to treat cancer. High case loads mean better reputation which is achieved when the success rates of patients treated there are good.
Can you afford to complete your treatment at this cancer hospital?
While you may want to go to the best private hospital which is the best cancer hospital in Bangalore, cost is a real constraint for most patients. If you have insurance, you may want to check which hospitals accept your insurance cashless. If you don’t have insurance, you need to plan basis total expense of entire treatment. Cancer treatment is long and has many phases (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy etc.). In Bangalore there are many cancer hospitals that offer affordable cancer treatment while not compromising on technology and quality of care.