Younger women may face higher costs for breast cancer treatment than older patients

Younger women may face higher costs for breast cancer care than older patients at least in part because they're diagnosed when tumors are more advanced and require more aggressive treatment, a recent U.S. study suggests.

For younger women aged 21 to 44, average treatment costs in the first year after a breast cancer diagnosis were $97,486 higher than average medical costs for similar women who didn't have breast cancer, the study found.

By contrast, older women aged 45 to 64 had average treatment costs in the first year after a breast cancer diagnosis that were $75,737 more than their peers without breast cancer spent on healthcare in a year.

About 40 percent of the young cancer patients were diagnosed with what's known as stage two tumors, when cancer has spread to lymph nodes surrounding the breast while just 34 percent of older women were diagnosed when cancer had reached stage two.

"Some of the difference in costs may be due to younger women being diagnosed at a higher stage of disease," said Stacie Dusetzina, a pharmacy and public health researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who wasn't involved in the study.

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