What Is the Cost of Chemotherapy Treatment for Breast Cancer?

What Is the Cost of Chemotherapy?

Cancer treatment chemotherapy roomOne of the major concerns of breast cancer patients is the cost of chemotherapy treatment. They wonder if they will be able to afford it. Many patients have asked, “Will my insurance cover chemotherapy treatment?”

The cost of chemotherapy can range all across the board from cheap, generic treatments to newer regiments that can cost thousands of dollars per month.

But the good news is, many chemotherapy treatments are past the point of experimentation. Insurance companies are required to pay for a patient’s chemotherapy treatment.

In this video, Dr. Margileth discusses the current and future cost of chemotherapy treatment.

To find out what the side effects of chemotherapy are, watch “What are the Side Effects of Chemotherapy?

Transcript

David Margileth:  One of the difficult issues of cancer in general and chemotherapy specifically is what is the cost.  So, let’s discuss some of those issues.

Chemotherapy costs can range all over the board.  Some regimens and some drugs are very cheap because they are generic, but some of the new regimens may be especially in breast cancer with new drugs such as T-DM1 or pertuzumab can be thousands of dollars per month.

We are very lucky in breast cancer in that it is a very data-driven specialty or disease and that things work so that insurance companies in a sense sort of have to pay for the chemotherapy or they get sued and all that, so that we don’t have the dilemmas that melanoma patients, kidney cancer patients, brain tumor patients have when the insurance company says, oh that’s experimental and we are not going to cover it.

So, most breast cancer chemotherapies especially the ones that have been proven are covered by all the insurance companies.  We are also very lucky in California to have a specific state benefit for women with breast cancer where the treatment is covered, so about 25% of my practice is or the poor people with breast cancer.

We see a lot of very aggressive breast cancers and we are very lucky that treatment costs are not an issue.  The chemotherapy costs at least are covered by the state so that those women are not forced to forgo therapy in cases where we have very good treatments, but certainly for the future of cancer care in general, these newer drugs can be unbelievably expensive and at some point, it becomes a suicidal concern, but at this point on a one-to-one basis in my life, it’s thankfully not a huge issue.

David Margileth
Dr. David A. Margileth practices medical oncology at St. Joesph Hospital in Orange, CA specializing in oncology, hematology, and internal medicine (board certified). His selected area of interest is breast cancer. Dr. Margileth graduated from Baylor College of Medicine in 1971 and has since spent time treating patients at the National Cancer Institute and Methodist Hospital in Houston, TX.