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The Financial Toxicity of Metastatic Breast Cancer

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. That’s a staggering statistic.

Currently, an estimated 168,000 people in the U.S. are living with metastatic breast cancer, also called MBC or known as Stage IV breast cancer. While there is no cure for MBC today, there is treatment that focuses on extending and maintaining quality of life.

The treatment for MBC is expensive, but the cost to persons living with the disease extends beyond treatment. The emotional, physical and mental toll – on top of the financial toll – makes the disease especially toxic.
Susan G. Komen works across all fronts to remove financial and other barriers to care – because we believe every life is worth saving and no one should be left in financial ruin because of a breast cancer diagnosis.

Available Resources

According to the National Institutes of Health, medical expenses for breast cancer were an estimated $16.5 billion in 2010 and have risen in the past decade. Breast cancer treatment has a lot of hidden costs that add up quickly. These could include the cost of childcare during medical appointments and gasoline for trips to the doctor.

Komen’s Breast Care Helpline is a great place to start to learn about resources available to those living with breast cancer and even their loved ones. Trained professionals can provide breast cancer education, emotional support and information about local resources. They can also help qualifying individuals apply for Komen’s Treatment Assistance Program.

The Komen Treatment Assistance Program bridges the gap for underserved individuals who are actively undergoing breast cancer treatment. With this program, Komen aims to help low income, underinsured or uninsured persons with financial assistance that can be used to cover costs such as anti-nausea medicine, parking during treatment appointments or even groceries. For many in active treatment, tough decisions must be made between paying for treatment or paying everyday bills.

Call 1-877 GO KOMEN or email

What Komen Is Doing

Komen advocates at the state and federal levels for changes to public policies that will help remove financial barriers to care.

Oral parity legislation, which requires health insurers to cover the cost of oral chemotherapy in the same manner they cover chemotherapy administered through an IV, would allow patients flexibility in treatment options. This allows patients potential reductions in some of the hidden time, effort and energy associated with treatment. Legislation that would make this change has already passed in 43 states and the District of Columbia and the Cancer Drug Parity Act was recently reintroduced in the U.S. House and is pending reintroduction in the Senate. Passage of remaining legislation is a top priority for Komen.

The Metastatic Breast Cancer Access to Care Act is another priority at the federal level that would ease the cost of care for the estimated 168,000 people living with metastatic breast cancer in the U.S. Bills in the House and Senate seek to remove the waiting periods for access to Social Security Disability Insurance and eligible Medicare benefits, totaling more than two years. This is time those with Metastatic Breast Cancer don’t have to waste.

Learn more about Komen’s public policy and advocacy efforts here.

You’re Not Alone

Metastatic breast cancer by itself is a long, hard journey. Nobody has to fight it alone. Komen strives to meet people where they are to support them, empower them and help them get the care they need to have the best possible quality of life.