Cancer Treatment Drugs Can Cost $5,000 per Month

Cancer treatment drugs can help to manage side effects from treatments such as chemotherapy, or, be used by cancer patients to more effectively manage pain from cancer's toll on the body. If you're living with cancer or care-taking for someone with the disease though, brace yourselves. Many new drug treatments cost nearly $100,000 a year. For the last decade, new cancer-fighting drugs have been topping $5,000 a month. And for most people, the drugs buy from a few months to a few years.

The latest is Provenge, a first-of-a-kind therapy approved in April. It costs $93,000 and adds four months' survival, on average, for men with incurable prostate tumors.

Unlike drugs that people can try for a month or two and keep using only if they keep responding, Provenge is an all-or-nothing $93,000 gamble. It's a one-time treatment to train the immune system to fight prostate tumors, the first so-called "cancer vaccine."

It's also in short supply, forcing the first rationing of a cancer drug since Taxol and Taxotere were approved 15 years ago.

Generally speaking, insurers cover cancer treatments if Medicare does.

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