Pancreatic cancer – a type of cancer that begins in the pancreas, an organ located behind the stomach – is the fourth most common cancer in the United States. This article will examine pancreatic cancer treatment cost and the benefits of early diagnosis.

pancreatic cancer treatment cost

Pancreatic Cancer Statistics

According to research, pancreatic cancer in the United States accounts for 3.2% of all cancer diagnoses. The American Cancer Society predicts that about 62,210 adults in the United States – 32,970 men and 29,240 women – will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2022. It is somewhat more common in males than females.

Advanced pancreatic cancer is difficult to identify, and there is no reliable early detection test. More than 55% of individuals discover the disease in its late-stage condition. When advanced, costly therapy and the extensive experience of a specialist are required.

Therapies for pancreatic cancer may extend a person’s life by several years, yet the total cost of these therapies can be very expensive. Below we’ll discuss different treatments, their associated costs, and ways to help you pay for them.

Pancreatic Cancer: Direct and Indirect Costs

The financial costs of any cancer are significant. Treatment costs and the expense of care and rehabilitation are medical expenses. Other cancer-related expenses aren’t immediately obvious, such as health insurance premiums and non-medical expenditures (transportation, child or elder care, housekeeping assistance, and more).

For individuals with health insurance, out-of-pocket expenses for pancreatic cancer therapy may include doctor visits, tests, prescription drug copays, and coinsurance of 10% to 50% for surgery and other operations, which may quickly exceed their yearly out-of-pocket limit.

Although pancreatic cancer is typically covered by insurance, some plans may not cover particular medicines or treatments.

Pancreatic cancer treatment can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000 or more for individuals without health insurance.

Pancreatic cancer is an expensive disease to treat, and the costs can quickly add up. That’s why pancreatic cancer costs vary considerably by stage and treatment received. 

Pancreatic Cancer Outlook

In most pancreatic cancer cases, invasive surgical resection is curative. However, only 20% of patients present with localized disease at diagnosis. The vast majority have either locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer.

The current standard of care for patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer is first-line chemotherapy with the combination of gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel. The treatment regimen for metastatic pancreatic cancer has improved overall survival by months compared to gemcitabine monotherapy. A metastatic pancreatic cancer treatment regimen total costs approximately $13,000 per month.

Treatment Options for Pancreatic Cancer

The standard treatment for pancreatic cancer is surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, pain management, vaccination, immunotherapy, and dietary changes.

Newer treatment options, including immunotherapy and targeted therapy, promise to treat pancreatic cancer, but more research is needed:

  • About 20% of patients with pancreatic cancer are candidates for surgery as a potentially beneficial therapy, but the procedure is rarely used.
  • Stereotactic radiation therapy may be utilized to treat localized early-stage pancreatic cancer when surgical treatment is unavailable.
  • A new vaccine is being studied that targets pancreatic cancer cells and may be able to cure them.
  • Several pain relief methods, including pharmacological and complementary therapies, are accessible to help patients feel more comfortable while maintaining their quality of life.

cost of pancreatic cancer treatment

Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Costs

There is no one-size-fits-all answer regarding the pancreatic cancer treatment cost. The total cost of advanced pancreatic cancer treatment varies depending on different factors, including:

  • The type of treatment received
  • How often would a patient need it
  • How many treatments are required
  • The side effects experienced and other factors

Monthly Treatment Cost Estimates

It’s important to remember that these are only averages:

  • The average monthly cost of pancreatic cancer chemotherapy is between $7,900 to $10,000.
  • The average monthly patient’s healthcare cost of pancreatic cancer radiation therapy is $11,000 to $14,000.
  • Pancreatic cancer surgery can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000.

The actual pancreatic cancer treatment cost in USA will vary depending on the individual patient’s situation.

Total Cost of Care

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the average monthly cost for pancreatic cancer treatment is more than $8,000.

Patient Liability Costs

  • During the initial phase, patient liability costs among patients receiving active treatment range from $466 to $1695 with the highest costs seen among patients who received chemoradiation.
  • For the continuing phase, patient liability costs range from $361 to $1179.
  • When it comes to the late-stage phase costs, patients’ liability ranges from $696) to $1137.

The greatest monthly patient-liability expenditures are generally seen among those who undergo chemoradiation or radiation therapy, possibly owing to the greater number of treatments required.

Surgery Phase Costs Estimates

The cost of pancreatic cancer surgery – pancreaticoduodenectomy (or PD) – can range from $15,000 to more than $50,000. This estimate does not include the cost of hospitalization and postoperative care, which can add several thousand dollars to the total bill.

According to a study, the financial implications after PD are significant:

  • The median cost of index admission for 997 patients who underwent PD was $23,700.
  • Patients with major complications incurred significantly greater median costs compared to those without ($40,005 vs $21,306).
  • Patients with postoperative pancreatic fistula (POPF) grade A, B and C had progressively increasing costs ($32,164, $50,264 and $102,013).

Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy Costs

The cost of chemo and radiation therapy can vary depending on the type of treatment, the length of treatment, and the number of treatments required.

So, how much does chemo cost? A study reveals the average cost of chemo is:

  • $9,133 for stage III cancer patients
  • $16,206 for stage II surgery patients
  • More than $11,000 for stage IV cancer patients

Cancer-attributable costs are especially high in the late-stage phase when patients no longer receive active treatment. For example, the average pancreatic cancer patient in the United States spends $29,658 in the last five months, with 41% of that total going to hospital care.

Chemotherapy is one of the most expensive treatments during this phase, costing an average of $7900 per month.

According to the same research, the average monthly cancer-attributable costs among patients who receive active treatment vary widely depending on several factors, including the stage of the patient’s cancer at diagnosis and the type and duration of treatment received. For example, patients with stage I pancreatic cancer who receive radiation therapy have much higher costs than those who undergo surgery. These costs vary from $1,500 per month for surgery to over $6,630 per month for radiation. 

Additionally, patients with stage II disease tended to have higher costs regardless of the type of treatment, with individuals receiving chemoradiation consistently having the highest costs overall.

Targeted Therapy Costs

Targeted therapy is a new type of treatment that is becoming more common in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Targeted therapy drugs are typically more expensive than traditional chemotherapy drugs. The cost of targeted therapy can range from $15,000 to $100,000. According to one study, the average cost of targeted therapy for Pancreatic cancer was $19,365 per patient.

Finding Help Paying For Pancreatic Cancer

When diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, you and your family will have many things to think about. One of the most important decisions will be how to finance your treatment. Several options are available, including insurance, government assistance programs, and charitable organizations. It is important to take the time to explore all of your choices.

American Life Fund Can Help With Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Costs

If you or a loved one are struggling with the costs of pancreatic cancer treatments, American Life Fund can help. We offer financial assistance to pancreatic cancer patients and their families to help cover treatment costs and other related expenses with a viatical settlement. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one manage the cost of pancreatic cancer treatments.

Health Insurance

Health insurance typically covers pancreatic cancer treatment, although some plans may not cover specific medicines or treatments. Out-of-pocket expenses for pancreatic cancer treatment for patients with health insurance typically include doctor visits, lab tests, prescription drug copays, and coinsurance rates of 10% to 50% for surgery and other procedures. These costs can quickly exceed the yearly out-of-pocket limit.

On the other hand, for patients with pancreatic cancer without health insurance, treatment regimens might cost $50,000-$200,000 or more per year, depending on the type and length of treatment.

pancreas surgery cost

The Benefits of Early Diagnosis

When it comes to any cancer, the benefits of early diagnosis are well-documented. Catching the disease in its early stages can improve treatment options and outcomes while reducing costs.

Pancreatic cancer is especially difficult to catch early because it often does not cause symptoms until it has spread to other parts of the body. When most people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the disease has already progressed to stage III or IV.

Pancreatic cancer screenings are not currently recommended for people with average disease risk. However, several clinical trials are testing new screening methods that may become available in the future. If you are at risk for pancreatic cancer, it is important to talk to your doctor about screening options.

In Summary

Pancreatic cancer is a deadly disease, but patients can improve their chances of survival with early detection and treatment. Many support systems are available for pancreatic cancer patients

Talk to your doctor about your treatment options, and look into government assistance programs and charitable organizations to help you cover the treatment costs. With the proper resources and support, pancreatic cancer patients can fight this disease and improve their chances of survival.

See if you qualify.

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