The Price You Pay To Beat Breast Cancer

Breast cancer treatment can cost up to $100,000 over a patient's lifetime, according to the National Institutes for Health.
Posted at 4:48 PM, Sep 29, 2015

Estimates on the cost of treating breast cancer vary wildly — but the bottom line? It's expensive. The National Institutes of Health puts the cost for each patient anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000 over a lifetime.

"Not only do the malignant cells wreak havoc on your body, the malignant cells wreak havoc on your bank account," one woman diagnosed with breast cancer told Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

"All of your other problems don't go away when you have cancer and chemotherapy. The water heater breaks, and your car breaks down, and the gas bill doesn't stop coming," an oncologist said. (Video via Cancer Answers)

Adjusting for inflation, the cost of treating stage 2 breast cancer jumped roughly 10 percent between the 1990s and mid-2000s. Treatments for stage 3 breast cancer soared roughly 40 percent. (Videos via Mayo Clinic and NHS Choices)

2015 study found treating invasive breast cancer costs over $50,000 on average.

"Prior to my diagnosis, I was making really good money. But I was working 70-plus hours a week," a woman diagnosed with breast cancer told Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

"Typically patients might say, 'Well, I have some difficulties with short-term memory. Sometimes I have difficulties doing things at the same pace that I did before I received treatment for the cancer,'" a clinical neuropsychologist said. (Video via the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

"One of the main surprises for me was how hard it was to do my job," a breast cancer survivor told The Pink Fund.

A 2014 study found among breast cancer patients diagnosed before 65 years old, 30 percent were unemployed four years later.

And in another recent study, 6 percent of breast cancer patients were uninsured. They were also more likely to discover their cancer at an advanced state.

Another 2014 study found even with insurance, 65 percent of cancer survivors didn't have the income needed to pay for treatment-related expenses. Fifty-five percent payed for treatment with savings or investments, 46 percent with credit cards and 15 percent took money from retirement accounts.

Breast cancer patients represented over 40 percent of the participants in that study.

This video includes images from Getty Images, williami5 / CC BY 2.0 and Daniel Scully / CC BY 2.0.