Does Medicare Cover Cancer Treatment?

Medicare Part A covers your hospitalization costs related to cancer. Medicare Part B covers most cancer-related medical services and treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Original Medicare also covers preventive services such as tests and cancer screenings.

Terry Turner, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
  • Written by
    Terry Turner

    Terry Turner

    Senior Financial Writer and Financial Wellness Facilitator

    Terry Turner has more than 35 years of journalism experience, including covering benefits, spending and congressional action on federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare. He is a Certified Financial Wellness Facilitator through the National Wellness Institute and the Foundation for Financial Wellness and a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®).

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    Matt Mauney, Senior Editor for RetireGuide

    Matt Mauney

    Financial Editor

    Matt Mauney is an award-winning journalist, editor, writer and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience working for nationally recognized newspapers and digital brands. He has contributed content for,, The Hill and the American Cancer Society, and he was part of the Orlando Sentinel digital staff that was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2017.

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    Christian Worstell, Medicare expert

    Christian Worstell

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    Christian Worstell is a licensed health insurance agent and an established writer in the sector, with articles featured in Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and more. His work has positively impacted beneficiaries nationwide and empowers them to make strong health care decisions.

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  • Published: August 31, 2020
  • Updated: October 23, 2023
  • 4 min read time
  • This page features 12 Cited Research Articles
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A licensed insurance professional reviewed this page for accuracy and compliance with the CMS Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines (MCMGs) and Medicare Advantage (MA/MAPD) and/or Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDP) carriers’ guidelines.

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APA Turner, T. (2023, October 23). Does Medicare Cover Cancer Treatment? Retrieved June 19, 2024, from

MLA Turner, Terry. "Does Medicare Cover Cancer Treatment?", 23 Oct 2023,

Chicago Turner, Terry. "Does Medicare Cover Cancer Treatment?" Last modified October 23, 2023.

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Is Cancer Surgery Covered by Medicare?

Original Medicare covers the cost of medically necessary cancer surgery.

Medicare Part A covers the costs of inpatient cancer surgery, other necessary treatments and care in a hospital setting. Medicare Part B covers outpatient cancer surgery.

Cancer surgery works by removing all visible cancer cells from your body. This involves surgically cutting out malignant tumors and nearby healthy tissue to prevent the cancer from spreading.

Medicare Part A also covers certain medical services you may need to recover from cancer-related surgery.

Cancer Surgery-Related Services Medicare Part A Covers
  • Blood transfusions required during surgery
  • Home health care services including occupational or physical therapy
  • Hospice care
  • Skilled nursing facility care following a minimum three-day stay in a hospital for cancer surgery

Medicare Part B covers surgery-related medical services and equipment provided outside a hospital setting.

Cancer Surgery-Related Services and Equipment Medicare Part B Covers
  • Outpatient cancer surgery, such as removal of polyps during colon cancer screenings or implantation of a chemotherapy port
  • Biopsies and other procedures to diagnose or measure success of cancer treatments
  • Outpatient implantation of breast implants following a mastectomy
  • Doctors’ visits related to your cancer surgery

Does Medicare Cover Chemotherapy?

Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D prescription plans cover many of the costs associated with chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy uses chemical substances to treat cancer. It may be used along with surgery, radiation therapy or other procedures to treat cancer.

For treatments covered by Medicare Part B, Medicare pays 80% of the approved chemotherapy costs. You are responsible for the Part B deductible and the remaining 20%.

Chemotherapy Coverage by Medicare Parts
Medicare Part A
Medicare Part A hospital insurance covers chemotherapy if you are treated for your cancer as a hospital inpatient — admitted to a hospital with a doctor’s order.
Medicare Part B
Medicare Part B medical insurance covers your chemotherapy if you receive it as a hospital outpatient — receiving treatment in a hospital without a doctor’s order to admit you. Part B also covers outpatient chemotherapy treatment in a doctor’s office or a freestanding clinic or other chemotherapy facility.
Medicare Part C
Medicare Advantage plans — also known as Medicare Part C — are required to cover everything Original Medicare does and may also provide prescription drug coverage for chemo-related medicines. These plans are sold through private insurers, so you should check with your plan to see exactly what costs your plan covers.
Medicare Part D
Medicare Part D prescription drug plans may sometimes cover certain cancer drugs and oral chemotherapy-related medications. This often includes prescription cancer drugs that Medicare Part B does not cover. Part D may also cover drugs that counteract side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea.

How Much Does Medicare Pay for Radiation Treatments?

Medicare Part A covers radiation therapy you receive as a hospital inpatient. Medicare Part B covers it if you receive radiation therapy as an outpatient in a freestanding clinic or other Medicare-approved facility that provides the therapy.

Radiation therapy uses X-rays or similar forms of radiation to treat cancer. The radiation makes small breaks in the DNA inside cancer cells.

The breaks keep the cancer cells from dividing and growing. In successful radiation therapy, the cancer cells die. The therapy can also affect nearby normal cells, but most of those recover.

Your Costs for Radiation Therapy with Original Medicare
Inpatient Radiation Therapy
You pay the Medicare Part A deductible — $1,632 in 2024 — and any applicable coinsurance, usually a percentage of the Medicare-approved cost of the treatment.
Outpatient Radiation Therapy
You will have to meet your Medicare Part B deductible — $240 in 2024 — plus your copayment.
Radiation Therapy at a Freestanding Clinic
You have to meet your Medicare Part B deductible and 20% of the Medicare-approved cost of treatment. Medicare pays the other 80% after meeting your deductible.

Medicare and Cancer FAQs

Does Medicare cover clinical trials for cancer patients?
While hospitals conducting clinical research trials on cancer treatment cover most costs if you enroll in a study, Original Medicare may cover 80% of certain costs you’ll have such as office visits and tests. You are responsible for the Part B deductible ($240 in 2024) and the remaining 20%.
Can I enroll in Medicare if I have cancer?
You can enroll in Medicare if you have cancer so long as you meet the other Medicare eligibility requirements, but it’s important to review which Medicare plans are right for you. Consider the coverage you need and how Original Medicare, Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, Medicare Advantage plans and Medigap policies may work best for your situation.
How much does cancer treatment cost with Medicare?
Medicare typically pays 80% of treatment costs after you meet your deductible. Your out-of-pocket costs for cancer treatment can depend on your plan’s coinsurance, copayment and where the treatment takes place. A 2017 study in the journal JAMA Oncology found that out-of-pocket costs ranged from $5,670 to $8,115 depending on the type of Medicare plan.
Last Modified: October 23, 2023

12 Cited Research Articles

  1. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022, September 27). 2023 Medicare Parts A & B Premiums and Deductibles 2023 Medicare Part D Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amounts. Retrieved from
  2. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022). Costs. Retrieved from
  3. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2020, November 6). 2021 Medicare Parts A and B Premiums and Deductibles. Retrieved from
  4. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2019, November). Medicare Coverage of Cancer Treatment Services. Retrieved from
  5. American Cancer Society. (2019, May 13). Medicare Coverage for Cancer Prevention and Early Detection. Retrieved from
  6. American Cancer Society. (2019, May 13). Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage. Retrieved from
  7. American Cancer Society. (2019, May 13). Medicare Overview. Retrieved from
  8. Narang, A.K. and Nicholas, L.H. (2017, June 8). Out-of-Pocket Spending and Financial Burden Among Medicare Beneficiaries With Cancer. Retrieved from
  9. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Chemotherapy. Retrieved from
  10. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Clinical Research Studies. Retrieved from
  11. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.).
  12. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Radiation Therapy. Retrieved from