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Breast cancer and financial support

3-minute read

Cost of treatments

Talk to your doctor about the likely cost of your medical tests and treatments. The cost of treatments for breast cancer will depend on whether you:

  • are treated in the public or private system
  • are working and have to take time off
  • live in a rural area and need to travel for treatment
  • have private health insurance

Where to find more information about the cost of breast cancer treatments:

  • Talk to a social worker or welfare worker about what financial and practical support services are available (your Breast Care Nurse or another member of your healthcare team can tell you how to access a social worker or welfare worker).
  • Talk to your local Medicare office about the ‘safety net’ on costs of medicines and medical bills.

Cost of prostheses

The External Breast Prostheses Reimbursement Program is an Australian Government initiative that provides reimbursement for both new and replacement external breast prostheses to all eligible women who have had a mastectomy as a result of breast cancer. Cost limits apply. For more information about the program and eligibility criteria, visit the Medicare Australia website.

You can also call Medicare on 13 20 11 or visit a Medicare office. For further information about where to find a breast prosthesis in your area, ask your health professional or contact the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20.

Some private health insurance funds also provide a rebate for items for women who have had a mastectomy, including prostheses, bras and swimming costumes.

Government-assisted travel schemes

Women who need to have treatment in a hospital far away from home may be able to get help with the cost of accommodation and travel. Each state and territory has a government-funded scheme to help patients who have to travel long distances to obtain specialist treatment that is not available locally.

The names for these schemes vary. Depending on a woman’s individual situation and where she lives, assistance with childcare, meals and general home help may also be available. Some women may be eligible for a sickness allowance while having treatment.

Ask your Breast Care Nurse, hospital social worker, doctor or Cancer Helpline on 13 11 20 what financial and practical assistance may be available in your local area. Breast Cancer Network Australia also has a factsheet on patient assisted travel schemes in each state and territory.

More information

Sources of information about financial and practical help include:

  • social worker at your hospital
  • your community nurse
  • the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20
  • local councils
  • Centrelink

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2018

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