From persistent financial worries to filing for bankruptcy, money troubles are not uncommon among cancer patients and researchers believe the added stress can impact recovery.
A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that cancer patients experience greater financial hardships due to the overwhelming costs of treatment and lifestyle changes associated with this disease.
Lead researcher Robin Yabroff, Ph.D., Department of Health and Human Services Office of Health Policy said, “We found that cancer survivors, especially the working-age population, commonly experience these types of material and psychological financial hardship.”
Changes in employment status can further contribute to money woes, with those who had to leave their job or take on a part-time job reporting higher levels of material hardship. Not surprisingly, worries about their financial future ranked highest among these patients.
It is critical to identify those patients in financial need and get them the help and care to fight this disease.
“Ongoing increases in the cost of cancer treatment, specifically oral therapies, highlight the need to identify characteristics of cancer survivors who are more likely to experience financial hardship,” said Dr. Yabroff.
Financial concerns can impact care because patients who don’t have the money often delay needed tests and treatment. According to a study by the American Cancer Society, 34% of cancer patients put off necessary care or did not take prescriptions as recommended in order to cut costs. While there is no easy answer to these issues, patient well-being should always come first.
As the ACS explains, “Approaches to delivery of health care have to be realigned to give greater focus to outcomes and patient well-being.”
The bottom line is that patients have to know up-front the costs of care and get help meeting those expenses whenever needed.
“Efforts to improve detailed physician-patient communication about cancer care cost and affordability will be important, especially with changes in health care access,” Dr. Yabroff said.
Patients who have difficulty with the financial demands placed on them due to a cancer diagnosis can get free help. See our free financial resources for cancer patients for links to agencies that can assist.