Breast cancer: $28,000 price tag for first phase of care in older women

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  • The average cost of care for the first 12 mo of diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer for Medicare beneficiaries in the United States is $28,075, with physician services accounting for the highest single component of care ($13,344).

Why this matters

  • The economic burden of breast cancer during the first 12 mo is substantial.

Study design

  • This was a population-based retrospective observational study of 69,307 women in the Medicare-SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) database.
  • Costs covered only the first 12 mo of diagnosis and treatment.
  • Funding: US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Key results

  • 96% of women were treated with surgery, 21% with chemotherapy, and 54% with radiotherapy.
  • Average total cost of care was $28,075, with the largest components being physician services ($13,344) and outpatient services ($7456).
  • These factors raised the cost of care: younger age (66-69 y), African American race, higher household income, advanced stages of breast cancer, initial breast cancer treatment, higher number of primary care physician visits, presence of comorbidities, and/or a mental condition, according to generalized linear model regression (all P<.001).


  • Nonreimbursable Medicare costs were not included.