Cancer care is among the most expensive health care specialties, and treatment is a significant financial burden for patients. Even with insurance, many patients with cancer find themselves covering large amounts of their care out-of-pocket. The stressors caused by these financial burdens are collectively referred to as “financial toxicity” within the arena of cancer care.
Adolescents and young adults (AYA) diagnosed with cancer are not immune to financial toxicity, though they may have different ways of mitigating the burden depending on the financial support in their lives.
Interested in the sources and types of financial support that AYA rely upon during treatment, a multi-institutional team from the United States recruited a cohort of AYA (15-39 years old) cancer survivors who were less than 1 year from diagnosis. Their findings were recently published in Supportive Care in Cancer in an article that is part of a larger randomized controlled trial funded by the National Institutes of Health.
In this study, the researchers interviewed participants about their demographics, level of financial support, and sources of financial support.
“Interview participants reported a variety of informal financial support sources including savings, community, family/friends, and fundraisers. However, only half of participants reported their informal financial support to be sufficient. High financial toxicity was associated with the most types of informal financial support and a higher magnitude of use. The lowest income group accessed informal financial supports less frequently than higher income groups,” the authors wrote.
Given that a large portion of the financial support was informal and those in lower socioeconomic levels had less access to informal support, the authors expressed concern over “potentially widening inequities.”