The Who, What, Where, When and Sometimes, Why.

Following Your Treatment Plan

Breast cancer treatment is most effective when all parts of the treatment plan are completed. So, it’s important to follow the treatment plan (for medications and other therapies) prescribed by your health care provider in terms of:

  • Timing
  • Dose
  • Frequency

Following your treatment plan

It may be hard to complete breast cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy and radiation therapy.

For example, when [213]:

  • You are prescribed (or recommended) to take medications over a long period of time
  • You are prescribed (or recommended) to go to treatments over a long time (especially if you live far away)
  • You have side effects from treatment

Even though it may be hard, it’s vital to follow your treatment plan. 

Medications, such as oral chemotherapy and hormone therapy (tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors), only work taken as prescribed. And, radiation therapy is most effective when you finish the entire course. 

Learn about getting good care (quality of care).

Talking with health care providers

It’s important to be honest with your health care provider about whether or not you’re taking your medication as prescribed.

If your provider believes you are taking all of your medication, and you aren’t, this can cause problems. For example, if a medication doesn’t appear to be working, your provider may think it’s due to the medication itself (when instead the medication wasn’t taken as prescribed).

In this case, your provider may decide to try a different type of treatment when a change wasn’t needed.

If you have side effects, tell your provider right away. Your provider may be able to help. Having fewer side effects can help you complete your treatment.

Learn more about talking with your health care provider.

Managing practical needs

You may have practical challenges, such as:

  • Travel to and from treatment (and travel costs)
  • Child care or elder care during treatment
  • Medication costs

Your health care provider may be able to help. Hospital discharge planners, patient relation offices, patient service offices, social workers and patient navigators at hospitals or managed care organizations may be helpful too.

Learn about transportation and lodging assistance.

Learn about financial assistance for child care and elder care costs.

Learn about financial assistance for prescription drugs and other treatment costs.

 

Komen Treatment Assistance Program

Susan G. Komen® offers the Komen Treatment Assistance Program to eligible, underserved individuals who are actively undergoing breast cancer treatment.

With this program, we aim to help those who are facing financial challenges by providing: limited financial assistance, breast cancer education, psychosocial support and information about local resources.

Funding helps women and men of any age who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, at any stage of the disease. Financial assistance is granted to those who meet pre-determined eligibility criteria. To learn more about this program and other helpful resources, call the Komen Breast Care Helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636).

 

Prescription drug assistance

Prescription drug costs can quickly become a financial burden for you and your family.

Medicare and many insurance companies offer prescription drug plans. One may already be included in your policy or you may be able to buy an extra plan for prescriptions.

Some drugs have a generic form. Generic drugs cost less than the name brands, but are just as effective.

You may also qualify for programs that help with drug costs or offer low-cost or free prescriptions.

Learn more about insurance plans and prescription drug assistance programs.

Susan G. Komen®’s Breast Care Helpline:
1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636)

Calls to our Breast Care Helpline are answered by a trained and caring staff member Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET. Our helpline provides free, professional support services to anyone with questions or concerns about breast cancer, including people diagnosed with breast cancer and their families.

You can also email the helpline at helpline@komen.org.

 

Completing radiation therapy after lumpectomy

Radiation therapy is almost always given after lumpectomy to lower the risk of breast cancer recurrence and increase the chances of survival [3].

Radiation therapy for early breast cancer usually is given 5 days a week, for 3-6 weeks.

Getting to and from the treatment center so often can be hard, especially if you live far away or if children or other family members rely on you for care.

If you need a ride to and from treatment or help with child care or elder care, there may be resources available. Family and friends often want to help, but don’t know how. These are great ways for them to get involved.

Sometimes, there are programs that help with local or long-distance transportation and lodging (if you need a place to stay overnight during treatment).

There are also programs that help with child care and elder care costs.

It’s OK to ask for help. It’s important to complete your radiation therapy without gaps or delays.

Learn more about radiation therapy.

Completing oral chemotherapy

Although most side effects go away shortly after chemotherapy ends, preventing or treating symptoms can help you complete your course of chemotherapy.

You should never feel you have to endure side effects, such as nausea. Talk with your health care provider about any side effects you have.

Your provider may be able to prescribe medications to treat your side effects or change your treatment plan to reduce them.

If you have trouble remembering to take oral chemotherapy or medications to treat side effects, a daily pillbox or setting an alarm on your watch or mobile device (you may be able to download an app) may help [1].

Learn more about chemotherapy.

Learn more about the side effects of chemotherapy

Learn about financial assistance for chemotherapy drugs.

 Susan G. Komen®‘s position on fairness in oral cancer drug coverage

Insurance coverage of oral cancer drugs

Cancer medications given by vein (through an IV) are usually covered under a health insurance plan’s medical benefit. However, cancer medications that are pills (oral cancer drugs) are usually covered under a health insurance plan’s prescription drug.

As a result, people often find themselves facing high out-of-pocket costs when filling prescriptions for oral cancer drugs. Sometimes this can cost thousands of dollars a month.

The impact of high drug costs

High prescription drug costs are a barrier to care. They can prevent people from getting the medications prescribed by their health care providers.

No one should be forced to get less appropriate treatment because an insurer gives more coverage for IV drugs than pills.

Efforts to increase fairness in drug coverage

Komen supports state and federal efforts to require insurers to provide the same or better coverage for oral cancer drugs as they do for IV cancer drugs. This would help ensure patients have access to affordable, appropriate treatment.

Take action

Ask your U.S. representative to co-sponsor the Cancer Drug Parity Act.

 

Completing intravenous (IV) chemotherapy

Most chemotherapy drugs for breast cancer are given by vein (through an IV) in an outpatient setting at a hospital or clinic.

Getting to and from the hospital or clinic can be hard, especially if you live far away or if children or other family members rely on you for care.

If you need a ride to and from treatment or have child care or elder care needs that make getting to chemotherapy treatments difficult, there may be resources available.

Family and friends often want to help, but don’t know how. These are great ways for them to get involved. It’s OK to ask for help.

Sometimes, there are programs that help with local or long-distance transportation and lodging (if you need a place to stay overnight during treatment).

There are also programs that help with child care and elder care costs.

Learn more about chemotherapy.

Learn more about the side effects of chemotherapy.

Learn about financial assistance for chemotherapy drugs.

Completing hormone therapy (tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors)

Hormone therapy with tamoxifen and/or aromatase inhibitors is prescribed for 5-10 years. The length of treatment along with side effects can make it tough to complete treatment.

Dealing with menopausal symptoms related to hormone therapy can be hard. Talk with your health care provider about ways to ease these and other side effects.

To get the most benefit from hormone therapy, you need the full course of treatment. People who complete the full course have better survival than those who don’t [82-84].

If you have trouble remembering to take your medicine, a pillbox or setting an alarm on your watch or phone (you may be able to download an app) may help [1].

However, you don’t need to panic if you miss a day or two.  

Learn more about hormone therapy.

Learn about treating menopausal symptoms.

Learn about financial assistance for hormone therapy drugs

TOOLS & RESOURCES

Need Help or More Information?

1-877 GO KOMEN
(1-877-465-6636)

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