Saturday, April 13, 2024

Hospitals that specialize in cancer treatment in Kenya and costs of treating cancer

According to figures from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, cancer is the third leading cause of death after pneumonia and malaria in Kenya.

One of out every 11 deaths in Kenya is due to cancer. The leading cases of cancer deaths are reported among patients with breast cancer, cervical cancer, oesophageal cancer, prostate cancer, and cancer of the stomach.

Diagnosis of breast cancer in Stage 0 has a ninety eight per cent survival rate for the diagnosed patients. Stage one and two of breast cancer have a ninety per cent survival rate. Stage three has a 40 per cent survival rate while Stage four has the lowest survival rate of ten per cent.

In Kenya, though, the majority of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at Stage 3 or 4, which complicates treatment and raises breast cancer fatalities.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) at the World Health Organization (WHO), the chance of dying from cancer is highest for breast cancer in Kenya. Kenyans also have a five per cent chance of getting breast cancer.

When confronted with breast cancer or any other form of cancer, most people, however, do not know which hospitals they should seek for help. And if they know, costs of treatment are usually prohibitive.

But which are the hospitals that specialize in cancer treatment from diagnosis to treatment, and what are the estimated costs of basic treatment for cancer and the costs of surgical treatment for cancer? Take a look:

The majority of hospitals that specialize in cancer treatment are mainly located in Nairobi County:

Nairobi County

Kenyatta National Hospital

Designation: Public Hospital

Location: Nairobi

Services: Radiotherapy and Brachytherapy

Kenyatta University Referral Hospital

Designation: Public Hospital

Location: Nairobi

Services: Radiotherapy

Aga Khan University Hospital

Designation: Private Hospital

Location: Nairobi

Services: Radiotherapy and Brachytherapy

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Nairobi Hospital Cancer Treatment Centre

Designation: Private Hospital

Location: Nairobi

Services: Radiotherapy and Brachytherapy

Texas Cancer Centre

Designation: Private Cancer Hospital

Location: Nairobi

Services: Radiotherapy

Nairobi West Hospital

Designation: Private Hospital

Location: Nairobi

Services: Radiotherapy

Cancer Care Centre, HCG

Designation: Private Cancer Hospital

Location: Nairobi

Services: Radiotherapy

Rift Valley Region

Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital,

Chandaria Cancer Centre

Designation: Public Referral Hospital

Location: Nandi County

Services: Radiotherapy and Brachytherapy

Equra Cancer Centre,

Designation: Private Hospital

Location: Eldoret

Services: Radiotherapy and Brachytherapy

Costs of treating cancer

A survey by researchers affiliated to the National Cancer Control programme and the national Cancer Institute of Kenya that was conducted on the cost of treatment for cancer in three hospitals, Kenyatta National Hospital, Aga Khan Hospital, and Nairobi Hospital, revealed the following costs, excluding rehabilitative and supportive care costs:

Cervical Cancer

It will cost you between Sh. 172,000 and Sh. 759,000 to treat cervical cancer without surgery in the three hospitals. This cost will rise to between Sh. 672,000 and Sh. 1.25 million if an operation is performed.

Breast Cancer

Basic treatment for breast cancer ranges between Sh. 175,000 and Sh. 1.98 million. This cost then shoots up to the range of between Sh. 758,000 and Sh. 2.48 million when surgery is performed. This surgery could include lumpectomy, quadrantectomy, partial mastectomy, or segmental mastectomy.

Lumpectomy is a surgery that is performed to remove cancerous tissue along with the rim of normal tissue known as surgical margin. This surgery preserves the rest of the breast including the sensation of the breast.

This type of surgery is sometimes referred to as partial mastectomy, quadrantectomy or segmental mastectomy. At the same time, testing for breast cancer costs around Sh. 15,200.

Prostate cancer

Patients seeking treatment for prostate cancer will pay between Sh. 138,000 and Sh. 1.21 million.

Esophageal cancer

Treatment for esophageal cancer ranges at between Sh. 126,000 and Sh. 1 million. The esophageal is the muscular tube that connects your mouth and your stomach.


The National Hospital Insurance Fund covers certain costs of treating cancer. Under the oncology cover, the NHIF covers radiotherapy sessions, basic chemotherapy, and complex chemotherapy.

Under its surgical package, the NHIF covers minor surgery such as lumpectomy, major surgery such as tissue expansion, lymph node dissection, mastectomy, and mammoplasty.  Under the radiological cover, the NHIF caters for ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, and PET scan.

Financial burden on women with breast cancer

According to a medical research on the financial burden of cancer that appeared in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, young women aged between 18 and 39 years who are diagnosed with breast cancer suffer substantial financial difficulties after diagnosis.

These women are afflicted by financial difficulties regardless of whether they have stable jobs with health insurance benefits or not. However, it gets worse where they don’t have insurance coverage and have to meet their medical costs through fundraising and debts from family and friends.

According to this study, cancer diagnosis is usually hard hitting because a majority of these young women are in the early stages of building their careers or raising their families. Their earning abilities are nipped in the bud by the diagnosis.

In the same vein, most young women were found to be poorly prepared for the event of a cancer diagnosis. “Since not too many women  expect to get a breast diagnosis, the majority of women who are diagnosed often have no idea how far reaching the treatment and care cost will be, and, or how their income and career will be affected,” said Dr. Florence Tangka, who led the study.

This cancer economic burden is also compounded by the stage at which young women are diagnosed. For example, women who are diagnosed at stages three and four of breast cancer will be the hardest hit economically.

“Apart from the financial implications, all the women’s overall career performance was depressed. At the same time, the situation could be worse where the employer is unsupportive,” said Dr. Tangka.

Some of the instances in which employers were found to be unsupportive included relieving the women of their duties without full benefits, and sending the women on unpaid treatment leave.

Additionally, according to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), 47,887 Kenyans are diagnosed with cancer every year. 32,987 Kenyans succumb to cancer every year.

18,772 of these deaths are of women. Out of the diagnosis figures, breast cancer accounts for the largest percentage, with 5,985 women getting a positive diagnosis every year.

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