62 percent of colorectal cancer patients report financial burden from treatment, study finds

October 23, 2014

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Nearly two-thirds of patients treated for colorectal cancer reported some measure of financial burden due to their treatment, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The burden was greatest among patients who received chemotherapy and among younger patients who worked in low-paying jobs.

The study surveyed 956 patients who had been treated for stage 3 colorectal cancer. Among this group, chemotherapy is known to increase survival by up to 20 percent and is routinely recommended following surgery.

"The financial burden was higher in patients who received chemotherapy - a potentially lifesaving treatment. To ensure that patients can receive all recommended care, we need to recognize the financial burden of cancer and identify patients at risk for financial concerns," says lead study author Christine M. Veenstra, M.D., M.S.H.P., clinical lecturer in hematology/oncology at the University of Michigan Medical School.

"We found that younger, working low-income patients were especially likely to face financial burden. These are people who may not be able to afford to take time off from their jobs to get recommended cancer care, including chemotherapy," Veenstra adds.

Patients were identified through the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results cancer registries for the Metro Detroit area and the state of Georgia. Patients were asked to answer a seven-question survey that asked whether they had used savings, borrowed money, skipped bill payments or cut back on items such as food, clothing or recreational activities because of their cancer treatment.

Overall, 38 percent did not indicate financial burden based on the seven questions. Of the remaining 62 percent: Nearly half of patients noted that they cut down on expenses in general because of their cancer treatment. Patients who had chemotherapy were significantly more likely to select each item of financial burden. Results of the study appear in the journal Medical Care.

"It's important to note that this financial burden is experienced on top of all that patients are going through with the cancer itself. The financial burden hits hard," says senior study author Arden M. Morris, M.D., M.P.H., chief of colorectal surgery at the University of Michigan Medical School and associate professor of health behavior and health education at the School of Public Health.

The researchers urge policy changes to job support measures such as mandatory paid sick leave or disability benefits. They also recommend support for copays, parking and transportation.

In addition, patients should speak to their doctor about financial concerns, and doctors should be aware of the financial burden on patients.

"It's important to start the dialog between patients and doctors. Some financial supports currently exist that may benefit patients if they're aware. It may not be enough to fully cover their financial burden, but it could help," says Morris, who is also a member of the University of Michigan Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy and the Cancer Surveillance and Outcomes Research Team.
-end-
Additional authors: Scott E. Regenbogen, Sarah T. Hawley, Jennifer J. Griggs, Mousumi Banerjee, from U-M; Ikuko Kato, from Wayne State University; Kevin C. Ward from Emory University

Funding: American Cancer Society

Disclosure: None

Reference: Medical Care, Vol. 52, No. 11, November 2014

Resources:
U-M Cancer AnswerLine, 800-865-1125
U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, http://www.mcancer.org
Clinical trials at U-M, http://www.mcancer.org/clinicaltrials
mCancerTalk blog, http://uofmhealthblogs.org/cancer

University of Michigan Health System

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.