In a survey of cancer survivors, many reported experiencing economic difficulties-such as borrowing, declaring bankruptcy, and continuing concern about economic issues-related to their illness and treatment.
The results Notification output of the study were published on 7 November in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
“We found that cancer survivors, especially people of working age, commonly experience these kinds of material and psychological economic deprivation,” said lead researcher Dr. Robin Yabroff, formerly of the Cancer Control and Demographic Sciences Division ( DCCPS) and currently the Office of Health Policies of the Department of Health and Human Services.
To conduct the study, Dr. Yabroff and her colleagues analyzed responses from approximately 1,200 adult cancer survivors to the 2011 Survey of Cancer Experiences Survey of the Medical Expenses Panel (MEPS). The MEPS, a nationwide representative survey that conducts in-person interviews with patients on the use and expense of health care, is conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. NCI and some other federal agencies provide some funding to conduct this additional survey on issues such as the economic burden of cancer and access to care among cancer survivors.
Overall, researchers found that approximately 20% of cancer survivors reported material financial hardship, including having to borrow money or finding themselves in debt and unable to pay their medical bills.
Economic deprivation was more common in those aged 18-64 than in those aged 65 and over. In addition, women, racial or ethnic minorities, and those who had received treatment more recently reported higher degrees of material economic deprivation.
Respondents who had to leave their jobs longer or who switched to part-time work after receiving their diagnosis were more than twice as likely to report economic hardship as those who continued to work or were unemployed at the time of their employment. Diagnosis.
More than twice as many survivors aged 18-64 reported psychological deprivation than those over 65. Concerns about economic issues were more common in those who did not have health insurance, and almost half were those who experienced this concern.
The researchers noted several limitations in the study, including its small population and that home-based demographic surveys, such as the MEPS, have a population selected in some way, including that many survivors participate long after their initial diagnosis, whereas those surveys Contain only small numbers of people newly diagnosed with cancer or with rare cancers.
“Continued increases in the cost of cancer treatment, specifically oral therapies, underscore the need to identify characteristics of cancer survivors who are more likely to experience economic hardship,” said Dr. Yabroff.
This is a particularly important issue, she continued, because some studies have suggested that patients experiencing financial hardship or having higher out-of-pocket expenses “are more likely to postpone or discontinue their medical care and adhere less faithfully to your cancer treatment.”
A key component of informed decision-making for patients receiving cancer treatment is having discussions with their doctors about the costs of treatment, Dr. Yabroff said. But, she continues, clinicians remain reluctant to talk to their patients about economic issues.
“In this way, efforts to improve detailed communications between the physician and the patient about the cost of cancer care and the ability to pay, especially with changes in access to health care, will be important” , Concluded Dr. Yabroff.