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Breast Cancer Takes Big Financial Toll on Some Young Patients

MONDAY, June 15, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Breast cancer treatment costs are highest among young and middle-age patients with advanced breast cancer.

That's the conclusion of a new analysis of data from women in North Carolina who were treated for breast cancer between 2003 and 2014. Researchers found that the highest treatment costs were among 18- to 44-year-olds with metatastic breast cancer, meaning it had spread to other parts of the body.

Average monthly treatment costs in that age group were $4,463 for those with metastatic breast cancer and $2,418 for those with stage 1 cancer.

In other age groups, treatment costs for early stage and advanced breast cancer were not statistically different, according to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study.

The findings were recently published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.

Breast cancer in younger women is typically diagnosed at more advanced stages, is more aggressive and less responsive to treatment, the researchers noted. They said the higher costs may reflect women's desire for more aggressive treatment and willingness to pay for additional months of life.

Researchers added that treatment continues longer for women with metastatic breast cancer and includes end-of-life care, contributing to the high costs.

"Our results suggest that we spend nearly twice as much in the last year of life for women that die of breast cancer compared to other causes of death," said lead author Justin Trogdon, a professor of health policy and management in UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health.

"We should work to ensure that end-of-life spending for metastatic breast cancer represents women's preferences and is of high value," he added in a university news release.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on breast cancer treatment.

SOURCE: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, news release, June 10, 2020

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