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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > Cancer Treatments > Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Cost

How Much Does Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Cost?

average costWith Health Insurance: Copays + 10%-50% Coinsurancehigh costWithout Health Insurance: $50,000-$200,000+
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  Typical costs:
  • For patients with health insurance, out-of-pocket costs for pancreatic cancer treatment typically consist of doctor visit, lab and prescription drug copays as well as coinsurance of 10%-50% for surgery and other procedures, which can easily reach the yearly out-of-pocket maximum. Pancreatic cancer treatment typically is covered by health insurance, although some plans may not cover certain drugs or treatments.
  • For patients without health insurance, pancreatic cancer treatment typically costs about $50,000-$200,000 or more, depending on the type and length of treatment.
  • For example, according to, a health care cost comparison website, Barnes Jewish Hospital in Missouri charges more than $40,000 for the Whipple procedure, a common surgery for pancreatic cancer. That cost can reach $85,000 or more with the addition of non-surgical care.
  • According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, a six-month course of Gemcitabine[1] , the chemotherapy drug typically used to treat advanced pancreatic cancer, costs about $23,500. Adding the drug Erlotinib, which might increase survival time slightly, adds more than $16,500, for a total of more than $40,000. A study[2] published in the journal Cancer found that stereotactic body radiotherapy, used in addition to chemotherapy, added $13,700 to the total treatment cost.
  • According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the average cost of care[3] for newly diagnosed pancreatic cancer patients was more than $8,000 a month. A patient on the Cancer Survivors Network forum[4] reports total costs of more than $200,000.
Related articles: Chemotherapy, Biopsy, Radiation Therapy, Gallbladder Surgery, Health Insurance

What should be included:
  • In some cases, treatment for pancreatic cancer will involve surgery. One common surgery for pancreatic cancer is the Whipple procedure, in which the head of the pancreas, the gallbladder, the bile duct and possibly some lymph nodes are removed. This involves general anesthesia and a hospital stay of a week or two.
  • In other cases, doctors perform a distal pancreatectomy, in which the tail of the pancreas is removed. If there are tumors in the entire pancreas, a total pancreatectomy might be recommended.
  • In many cases, especially when the tumor cannot be completely removed by surgery, chemotherapy[5] will be recommended. Gemcitabine[6] is the most common chemotherapy drug for pancreatic cancer. One targeted therapy, Erlotinib[7] , has been approved and other new therapies are being investigated.
  • Depending on the individual case and the type of pancreatic cancer, radiation therapy[8] might be recommended after surgery or in conjunction with chemotherapy.
  • offers an overview of treatments[9] for pancreatic cancer.
Additional costs:
  • Pancreatic cancer patients sometimes need palliative surgery, which is surgery to make them more comfortable if, for example, the cancer causes pain or blocks their ability to eat and digest food normally.
  • Many hospitals give discounts of up to 30% or more to uninsured/cash-paying patients. For example, Washington Hospital Healthcare System[10] in California offers a 35% discount.
  • Some states offer programs that provide free or discounted cancer treatment. For example, the Delaware Cancer Treatment Program[11] offers two years of free cancer treatment to uninsured Delaware residents who meet certain guidelines, including having a household income of less than 650% of the federal poverty level, or less than $134,225 for a family of four. The Cancer State Aid[12] program in Georgia reimburses cancer treatment facilities for providing care to qualifying uninsured or underinsured patients who have incomes at or below 300% of the federal poverty guidelines and have been accepted into the program.
  • For insured patients, the CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation[13] offers full or partial financial assistance with copays on certain drugs for patients with pancreatic cancer.
  • The Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition offers a financial assistance locator[14] by zip code or state.
Shopping for pancreatic cancer treatment:
  • The American Society of Clinical Oncology offers an oncologist locator[15] by state. The National Cancer Institute has a search tool[16] for NCI-designated cancer centers.
  • WebMD offers a guide to types of cancer specialists[17] , and the National Cancer Institute offers a guide[18] to finding a doctor or cancer treatment facility.
  • offers a list of clinical trials for pancreatic cancer[19] .
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
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