Type of Surgery

Breast Cancer Surgery Introduction, Insurance Information and Average Cost

Last updated: 04/08/2009

Introduction to Breast Cancer Surgery
Breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer worldwide and surgery is the most commonly recommended form of treatment. Generally speaking, there are two major types of breast cancer surgery: breast-sparing surgeries and mastectomies. The first, also called a lumpectomy, removes only the infected tissue and more or less preserves the original shape of the breast. The second is for more serious cases when surgical removal of the entire breast is the lowest-risk option. Neither type of breast cancer surgery has been shown to be more effective than the other; the criterion for determining which procedure to use is simply based on the stage and location of the patient’s tumor.
Average Costs of Breast Cancer Treatment
According to a HealthDay News report from 2008, the average cost of breast cancer treatment in the US is $20,964. This number includes far more than the cost of surgery alone; it also covers hospital fees, chemotherapy, drugs, and any combination of treatment options. For the surgeries alone, an article in the American Journal of Surgery in 2001 found the average cost of breast-sparing surgeries to be $4,748 and the average cost of mastectomies to be $6,280, in a study of hospitals between 1996 and 1997.
Possible Additional Costs
So what adds up to the rest of the substantial price tag attached to breast cancer treatment? As mentioned above, hospital fees, anesthesiologist fees, drugs, chemotherapy fees, technology fees, and radiation fees are all expensive but necessary costs.
One popular and extra option that many women opt for after breast cancer surgery is breast reconstruction surgery. The reasons are obvious for patients who have undergone mastectomies and lost an entire breast, but even lumpectomies can leave patients with misshapen or uneven breasts. Breast reconstruction surgeries can substantially boost the final bill by thousands of dollars; however, the positive results are an investment that many patients find worthwhile.
Insurance and Your Breast Cancer Surgery
If you are covered by insurance, many of the expenses of breast cancer surgery will not need to come out of your pocket; however, there are some details that are worth investigation. Anesthesiologists will bill you separately for each operation and so you need to make sure that the specialist you choose is approved by your healthcare provider. Additionally, certain drugs may prove to be exceptions to normal coverage terms—know what these are before you commit to a treatment plan.
In regards to ever-popular breast reconstruction surgeries, quite a number of insurance companies today are willing to cover these as well. Though they are technically elective surgeries, many insurance providers now acknowledge the importance of breast reconstruction—check to see if insurance company does. Also, get a solid idea of what other additional costs your insurance company is willing to provide for, such as possible surgical complications, accessories, post-op physical therapy, and so on.


Last Updated: 04/08/2009

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