The Price of Surviving Cancer? It’s Over $3.14 Billion for Women with Breast Cancer | by Cody Sovis | Less Cancer Journal | Oct, 2021

Cody Sovis

In too many situations, it isn’t the type of cancer, or how advanced it might be when it’s diagnosed, that dictates the outcome of treatment for a patient.

It’s the price.

Remember that when the news talks about cancer rates, the statistics they share are just the tip of the cancer experience. The mental anguish, fear, stigma, and the abrupt cancellation of everything don’t often make the headlines. You can’t build those unique experiences and share those stories for the hundreds of thousands of Americans diagnosed each year. You can’t keep up-to-date on the millions of Americans in various states of diagnosis, treatment, or remission.

But increasingly, you can put a dollar amount on it. If financial stress is one indicator of the burden of experiencing cancer, then the situation in this country is worse than ever. According to the newest edition of an annual study, American cancer patients were burdened with over $21 billion in cancer-related costs.

The rates of cancer deaths. Of the 19 more common types of cancer in men, 11 saw a decrease in mortality rate. For women, 14 of the 20 most common types decreased.

But the price to survive is higher than ever. Breast cancer patients, for example, paid a total of $3.14 billion in 2019, while men with prostate cancer footed a bill for $2.26 billion. For Medicaid patients, the out-of-pocket caps of $3,000, $4,000, or more can be as much as a quarter of the individual income that qualifies an individual for the program.

The study also notes that cancer prevention is likely the best way, and perhaps the only way, for most middle and lower-income families to face cancer; by avoiding it completely or at least reducing the risk of a diagnosis. Of course, one of the most important elements in cancer prevention is education, much of which comes from regular access to resources from a healthcare provider. Without affordable healthcare, if not universal access, this avenue remains largely unattainable for millions of uninsured or under-insured Americans.

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