After a breast cancer diagnosis: what’s next?

  • Published
  • By Tyler Patterson
  • TriWest Healthcare Alliance
You have breast cancer.

A diagnosis of breast cancer can be one of the most terrifying experiences of a person's life. Even if they're expecting it, braced for it and simply waiting for the confirmation, not much else in the world can change a life as completely as those four words.

In such a trying time, it's good to have the support of family, friends--and TRICARE benefits.

TRICARE Prime, Standard and Extra beneficiaries are entitled to a preventive breast cancer examination every year, beginning at age 40. Beneficiaries identified as being at high risk for breast cancer are covered for annual exams, beginning at age 35. These exams offer people the best chance at detecting breast cancer early, when it is most easily and effectively treated. When detected early, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 98 percent.

Following the diagnosis, a doctor will likely present you with several choices for treatment. TRICARE covers most options, including mastectomy, which is the surgical removal of the breast, radiation and chemotherapy. Each of these procedures has its own unique risks and benefits. People are encouraged to discuss their options in detail with their doctor.

TRICARE is also available to help with post-procedure recovery. If treatment options results in hair loss, TRICARE will cover the cost of a wig. If someone elects to have a mastectomy, TRICARE covers reconstructive breast surgery, as well as two initial mastectomy bras and two replacement bras per calendar year.

Visit for more information on TRICARE benefits. To learn more about breast cancer, visit