Breast Cancer Patients Experience Significant Financial Stress During and After Treatment

A recent study shows that breast cancer patients suffer extreme financial stress during and after treatment. The study was published in Current Cancer Reports.

To conduct this study, researchers analyzed answers from questionnaire about financial distress of 164 women who were randomly selected breast cancer patients and were treated and received completed primary therapy. They queried  patients using a self-administered questionnaire seeking to find out whether patients were less able to provide for the financial needs of their family, had difficulty meeting their medical expenses, did not have money to cover the cost of their co-pay for medical visits and did not have money to cover the cost of their co-pay for medications. Participants were given the option of three responses to each question, “not a problem,” “somewhat a problem,” or “a severe problem.”

“Looking at the results, about 8.6% of the respondents reported ‘being less able to provide for the financial needs of their family’ was a severe problem,” said Dr. Steven Coughlin, Interim Head for the Division of Epidemiology in the Department of Population Health Sciences at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University via a press release. “Nearly 14.4% said ‘difficulty in meeting medical expenses’ was a severe problem. Approximately 8.4% said ‘no money for cost of or co-payment for medical visits’ was a severe problem. And, around 8.4% answered that ‘no money for cost of or co-payment for medicine(s)’ was a severe problem.”

“I think the concept of financial distress is an important aspect of cancer care that I do not think we’ve addressed enough historically,” added Dr. Jorge Cortes, director of the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University. “We know that as the Food and Drug Administration approves newer and better drugs for breast cancer treatment, there is frequently an increasing cost with newer drugs. And with some of those therapies having to be taken over a longer period, it can increase the level and length of financial stress.”