PURPOSE: Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women younger than 40 years. We aim to evaluate cost as a barrier to care among female breast cancer patients diagnosed between 18 to 39 years.
METHODS: In early 2017, we distributed a survey to women diagnosed with breast cancer between the ages of 18 and 39 years, as identified by the central cancer registries of California, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida. We used multivariable statistics to explore cost-related barriers to receiving breast cancer care for the 830 women that completed the survey.
RESULTS: About half of the women (47.4%) reported spending more on breast cancer care than expected, and almost two-thirds (65.3%) had not discussed costs with their care team. A third of the patients (31.8%) indicated forgoing care due to cost. Factors associated with not receiving anticipated care due to cost included age less than35 years at diagnosis, self-insurance, comorbid conditions, and late-stage diagnosis.
CONCLUSION: Previous studies using breast cancer registry data have not included detailed insurance information and care received by young women. Young women with breast cancer frequently forgo breast cancer care due to cost. Our results highlight the potential for policies that facilitate optimal care for young breast cancer patients which could include the provision of comprehensive insurance coverage.