Why Do Celebrities Head West for Cancer Treatment?

by Team Onco

Indian actors Sonali Bendre and Irrfan Khan have been diagnosed with cancer and flown west to receive treatment for advanced types of cancer. The team at Onco.com is here to explain why people with access to money/resources prefer traveling to the west for cancer, instead of availing treatment in India.




Sonali Bendre and Irrfan Khan are not exceptions. Indian politician Manohar Parriker also received treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer in the USA recently. And when the popular Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh was diagnosed with Seminoma Lung Cancer in 2011, he too flew to the US (Boston and Indianapolis), to receive a majority of his treatment. Do you see a trend here?


Celebrities, Cancer & the West Connect

In fact, we see a pattern among all Cancer patients from affluent families/patients with superb Cancer insurance. It goes somewhat like this:

  • They get their diagnosis reviewed by the best Oncologists (Cancer Specialists) in India.
  • They tend to fly to the United States or another developed country where the Cancer treatment landscape is evolved and include breakthrough treatments such as Hormone TherapyGene TherapyImmunotherapy, etc.
  • They engage more than one Cancer specialist to review their case.

Most people would argue that the reason why affluent public figures go this route, is because they can afford it. It’s that simple. They (celebrities) have the kind of money that most people don’t, period. Unfortunately, many patients don’t exercise the option of receiving a high-quality Cancer care because of the myth that “US-like” Cancer Treatment is just too expensive.

And what these patients end up missing in return is a combination of many factors (that celebrity patients do not miss out on). Some of these benefits are:

  • Access to doctors trained in the latest treatment protocols for Cancer care
  • Detailed evaluation of each Cancer case against new treatment modalities such as Hormone Therapy and Immunotherapy
  • The chance to participate in less-known Clinical Trials taking place in developing countries
  • Access to new Cancer medicines that are yet to become popular in India
  • Combined opinion from a complete team of Cancer Specialists – i.e. Surgical, Radiation and Medical Oncologists.

Sadly, the prohibitive cost of travelling to the US for a consultation deters an average Indian patient from at least knowing what could/would work for their Cancer treatment, and they are forced to rely on limited treatment options.

Steve Jobs was diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Tumors in 2004 – the same condition that Irrfan Khan has recently been diagnosed with. Jobs mentioned in a commencement speech at Stanford University, that upon performing a biopsy, his doctors started crying because they knew that this form of cancer, although rare, was manageable with surgery. At that time, Jobs was one of the select few people who had enough resources to get his own genome sequenced, and subsequently went to Switzerland to receive experimental treatment.


The Big Question: Is it possible for an average Indian cancer patient to get the same high-quality consultation from US based oncologists?


The answer is to opt for an Online Consultation.


How it works

The power of the internet allows medical history (biopsy reports, imaging scans such as X-rays and MRIs and hospital discharge summaries) to be transferred from one part of the world to another within minutes. Online consultation services such as Onco.com leverage this to the advantage of Cancer patients around the world by giving them access to the best that oncology has to offer. Using such a service, Cancer patients and their families can opt to receive an accurate and unbiased Second Opinion on their Cancer treatment, from the world’s best Cancer specialists, practicing at the same hospitals that we have discussed above (MD Anderson Cancer Centre, Memorial Sloan Kettering) and more, like Harvard Medical and F Helen Graham Cancer Research Institute.


Watch this video on how to get an online consultation for cancer



Besides huge cost savings, securing a written consultation report from a US doctor over the internet also saves a lot of time for patients. In most advanced stages of Cancer and in cases of extreme complexity, time is a crucial factor in determining the overall prognosis of a patient. Exchanging information over the internet also removes geographical restrictions – this means that a patient from anywhere in the world, even seemingly obscure countries and cities can obtain a high-quality, expert consultation from some of the best minds in the globe.

They can receive information about the latest therapies applicable for their Cancer treatment, in addition to alerts about potentially life-altering Clinical Trials that might be recruiting nearby.Do not let monetary restrictions be the reason why you don’t opt for the best Cancer treatment advice in the world.


We at Team Onco.com wish all the very best to both Mr Irrfan Khan & Mrs Sonali Bendre in their cancer treatment journeys, and pray for their swift and speedy recovery.


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You can write to us at team@onco.com.

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