Study Finds the Cost of Treating Metastatic Breast Cancer Could More Than Double by 2030

A cancer diagnosis impacts your mental health, your physical health, and your financial health. For metastatic breast cancer patients, the bills can be overwhelming, with studies showing this is especially true for women under the age of 45. New research says these costs will continue to climb.

A team at the University of North Carolina Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention created a model to project the number of metastatic breast cancer patients in the U.S. by 2030, along with the costs they’ll incur to treat the disease. They estimated that by 2030, the collective cost will more than $150 billion annually. That’s more than double 2015 numbers. The findings were published in JNCI Cancer Spectrum.

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The study explains, “The cost of metastatic breast cancer could increase substantially in the coming decade, especially among younger and midlife women. “

To determine how costs would rise, the team used data from the U.S. Census and the National Cancer Institute. They estimated that there will be 246,194 women living with metastatic breast cancer in 2030. That’s 54.8% higher than 2015 figures.

They then worked on projecting how costs could change. To do that, they estimated both medical costs and productivity costs. The latter includes lost workdays while living with cancer and productive years that are lost when women die of the disease. Taking these into consideration, along with the projected uptick in diagnoses, they estimate that the collective annual cost will be $152.4 billion in 2030. That’s compared with $63.4 billion in 2015.

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The authors say that this increase will especially be felt by younger women battling the disease, as case rates in this age group continue to rise.

Dr. Justin Trogdon, study author and research fellow at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, explains, “For metastatic breast cancer, it is not just the ‘silver tsunami’ of aging baby boomers that will increase the demands on our care system. We should also be prepared for an increase in younger women requiring treatment and services for metastatic disease.”

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The authors say that to address these issues, it may be helpful for policymakers to invest more in early detection of breast cancer and in treatment. They did not try to forecast any technological and treatment advances that may arise over the coming decade, so those may help, as well.

Dr. Stephanie Wheeler, co-author and professor of health policy and management at UNC, says, “Importantly, treatment and technological advances or major health care delivery reforms could begin to ‘bend the curve’ of unrestrained cost growth in metastatic cancer — with potentially the greatest impact among young and midlife women who stand to lose the most if medical and policy innovations are not aggressively pursued.”

If you’d like to help address some of the costs associated with breast cancer and lessen the likelihood of a woman developing metastatic breast cancer, sign this petition to ensure insurance companies cover tests for genetic markers like BRCA.

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