The Real Cost of Prostate Cancer
Last updated: October 2021
Prostate cancer has far-reaching effects on those living with the condition, as well as their families. Beyond the physical, mental, and emotional effects of the diagnosis, cancer-related expenses may take a toll on households of all shapes and sizes.
What is the average cost of prostate cancer treatment?
A 2019 study showed that the average cost for treating prostate cancer is about $2,800 a month. Most of this cost is due to surgery and frequent doctor visits to manage care. While average monthly expenses may vary depending on treatment, this study shows that treating cancer is costly.1
We conducted our 2020 Prostate In America survey to learn more about the real cost of the diagnosis. More than 1,000 people with prostate cancer completed the survey and provided an interesting look at the financial aspect of the condition.
How employment can play a role
Both employment status and health insurance coverage contribute to the financial situation of a household and how prepared a person may be able to handle the costs of prostate cancer treatment. About 15 percent of survey respondents said that their prostate cancer diagnosis has had a significant negative impact on their household finances.
The majority of survey respondents – 56 percent – said they are fully retired, while 24 percent are employed full-time. Another 9 percent are self-employed, 5 percent are employed part-time, and 3 percent are on disability.
Is treatment covered by insurance?
Insurance status plays a large role in how much personal spending on healthcare is needed. The majority of survey respondents have both primary and secondary/supplemental health insurance coverage.
Of those with primary health insurance:
- 54 percent have Medicare
- 32 percent have group coverage through their employer or the employer of a spouse/family member
- 5 percent have military coverage
- 3 percent have private insurance purchased directly from the insurance company
- 3 percent have health insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act insurance exchange
- 1 percent have Medicaid
Of those with secondary/supplemental coverage:
- 48 percent have Medicare supplemental health insurance coverage
- 28 percent have Medicare Part D (Medicare prescription drug benefit)
- 14 percent have private/group supplemental health insurance coverage
- 10 percent have prescription drug coverage that is separate from their health insurance coverage
How does cost influence treatment decisions?
Survey responses show that most people with prostate cancer are mainly concerned about getting the best treatment and are less worried about the cost.
The majority of survey respondents – 56 percent – shared that the main reason for picking their treatment plan/medicine was its effectiveness. Other factors that influenced treatment decisions included:
- Potential side effects (31 percent)
- Long-term safety of the medicine/treatment (23 percent)
- Convenience/ease of taking the medicine/treatment (19 percent)
However, health insurance coverage and the cost of medicine/treatment was a factor for some survey respondents.
- 12 percent were influenced by whether or not their insurance covered their treatment
- 5 percent were influenced by the cost
- 3 percent were influenced by the availability of financial help to cover the cost of their medicine/treatment
Wishing the financial impact was less
While the majority of survey respondents said that their prostate cancer diagnosis has had no negative impact on their household finances, many mentioned that they wish they could change how much their medicines/treatments cost.
When asked what they would change, survey respondents said:
- Side effects, including erectile dysfunction, ability to have sex, incontinence
- Having more information
- Earlier detection of cancer
- Starting treatment sooner
- Being told the truth
- Wanting a cure
- Getting a second opinion
The 2020 Prostate Cancer In America survey was conducted online from November 2019 through April 2020. 1,162 people completed the survey.
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