Cancer continues to have a massive impact all over the globe. It is a leading cause of death globally, accounting for upwards of 10 million deaths in 2020, which is about one in six deaths. In the United States, cancer still remains one of the deadliest diseases with a consistent societal and financial burden. Estimates suggested more than 1.8 million new cancer diagnoses in the United States in 2020. For that same year, estimates suggested over 606,000 deaths in the United States.
According to estimates of new cases in 2020, the most common cancers in the United States are breast cancer, lung and bronchus cancers, and prostate cancer. However, there are dozens of different types of cancer that affect different organs and cells, which can make treatment difficult.
The good news is that medicine and medical technology continue to grow and improve, allowing for more effective cancer treatments and better outcomes. While there is no known cure for cancer, many people diagnosed with the disease survive to live full, rich lives. Estimates project about 22.2 million cancer survivors by the year 2030.
Still, accessing treatment in the United States is difficult for numerous reasons. Most prominently, the cost of treatment can pose a massive financial burden to American patients and their families, even with insurance. Those who survive cancer may be strapped with huge debt. This has led many to seek alternative avenues, essentially creating a boom in medical tourism. Learn more about medical tourism and cancer treatment in Tijuana in this guide from Immunity Therapy Center below.
What Is Medical Tourism?
Medical tourism is the act of traveling abroad to receive medical care. This is extremely common with millions of residents of the United States partake in medical tourism every year. From the U.S., most medical tourists travel to nearby Mexico or Canada, though others may travel to South America, Central America, the Caribbean, or even farther.
Cancer treatments are one of the most common procedures for a medical tourist, but other common medical service options include:
- Dental care
- Cosmetic surgery
- Orthopedic surgery
- Weight loss surgery or gastric sleeve surgery
- Dental care services
- Organ or tissue transplants
- Fertility treatments
People may have numerous personal and medical reasons for medical tourism.
- Cost is one of the most prominent as certain medical procedures may cost less abroad than in the United States.
- Some countries also provide medical procedures and alternative therapies that are not available or approved in the United States.
- Medicine can be deeply personal and technical. For their own comfort and personal education, some people may travel to a country that shares their culture and language.
Cost Benefits of Tijuana Medical Tourism
Cost alone is one of the most prominent reasons that a medical tourist may travel to Mexico, particularly Tijuana, for treatment. The complications and general inaccessibility of the U.S. health care system can result in insurmountable costs for the average person. Financial hardships for cancer patients and their families can be a massive burden that can continue even among survivors of cancer.
The exact cost of your treatment will vary based on numerous factors, particularly the type of cancer that you have, the area it affects, and the form of treatment that you require. According to estimates, the average cost of initial treatment is about $43,000 per year. Ongoing costs are around $5,500 per year. Most estimates show that the average costs are typically highest in a patient’s last year of life at about $109,000 per year on average.
These are massive costs for the average person. The financial hardship of receiving cancer treatment can result in a loss of savings and potential bankruptcy. The threat of high costs can also prevent people from seeking out necessary treatment that could ultimately remove the cancer cells and prolong their lives.
The high financial barrier can become even harder to overcome among people who do not have health insurance or those who have health insurance that does not cover certain cancer treatments. In 2020, about 28 million residents in the United States (about 8.6 percent of the population) did not have health insurance at any point that year.
Cancer treatment in Mexico costs decidedly less than in the United States. On average, you can expect to spend 50 to 70 percent less on cancer treatments in Mexico. This typically equates to about a few thousand dollars to around $50,000 for treatment. That is still a high sum, but it is considerably less than what you would pay in the United States.
Hospitals and clinics in Mexico are also straightforward about the costs and what your money will cover, which usually includes food, lodging, and hospital accommodations during your treatment. The doctors and hospital staff understand that you traveled far to receive treatment, so they are not here to waste your time. Hospitals may also accept your U.S. health insurance coverage, though whether or not you have to pay upfront will depend on your plan and the hospital’s policies.
You do have to factor in tangential costs, particularly travel, food, and lodging outside of the hospital. Still, even when you add those to your total cost, you may come out on top.
Forms of Treatment
The main forms of cancer treatment in the United States focus on a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. These can be highly effective, but they also come with side effects. Surgery is invasive, requiring you to spend extra time off of work to recover. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can contribute to a wide range of side effects, particularly nausea and fatigue. This can leave you feeling too weak to perform your regular daily routine.
The good news is that your body can typically heal once the treatment period is over, but depending on your personal health or the way your cancer reacts to the medical treatment, you may decide on different forms of treatment. There are numerous alternative treatments that are non-invasive or minimally invasive, reducing the side effects that you may experience.
Many alternative cancer treatments are hard to find or not fully approved in the United States, but they may be readily accessible in Tijuana.
Risks and Safety
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was designed to improve trade throughout Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. One of the side effects of NAFTA was improved regulations to prevent health fraud across all borders. This essentially ensures that you are receiving safe, trusted treatment throughout Mexico. Any risks that may come with treatment are the same regardless of location.
Many also have general safety concerns about Tijuana and Mexico, but the area is ultimately as safe as anywhere else. You should obviously take precautions the way that you would when traveling to any unfamiliar city, but Tijuana itself does not present any outsized risk. Be kind to locals, stay aware of your surroundings, and ask for help when you need it.
If you are looking for a cancer clinic in Tijuana, Immunity Therapy Center is a great place to start. Offering a wide range of treatments for cancer, Immunity Therapy Center is home to an experienced, knowledgeable team of medical professionals who are ready to provide hope with several treatment options. To learn more or to begin the first steps to receiving medical treatment, contact the Immunity Therapy Center team today.
Written By: Dr. Adolfo Carrillo
Dr. Adolfo Carrillo is a Board Certified Medical Doctor from Universidad Autónoma de Baja California.
Dr. Carrillo has been collaborating with Dr. Bautista for over 5 years as a treating physician at the Immunity the Immunity Therapy Center. Dr. Carrillo is a charismatic Doctor whose knowledge and commitment to patient care and bringing healing to patients is a valuable asset to our center.
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.