-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) -- Increasing out-of-pocket
expenses forces many cancer patients in the United States to forgo
drugs and doctor appointments and to cut back on food and other
necessities, a new study reveals.
The researchers looked at 216 cancer patients who sought help
from the national nonprofit HealthWell Foundation, which helps
underinsured patients afford expensive medications. All but one
patient had insurance, two-thirds were covered by Medicare and 83
percent had prescription drug coverage. Most of the patients were
women (88 percent) with breast cancer (76 percent).
The patients' out-of-pocket expenses averaged $712 a month for
things such as prescription drugs, doctor visit copays, lost wages
and travel to medical appointments. These expenses were a
significant problem for 30 percent of the patients and a
catastrophic problem for 11 percent, according to the researchers
at Duke University Medical Center and the Dana-Farber Cancer
The study didn't examine whether patients suffered worse
outcomes because of treatment choices they were forced to make due
to financial problems. However, the researchers did find that
patients took fewer medications due to costs and were less
satisfied with their care when out-of-pocket expenses caused
The data and conclusions of this study, which was scheduled for
presentation Monday at the annual meeting of the American Society
of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, should be viewed as preliminary
until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
"Overall, this study provides a patient-centered view of a reality of modern day cancer care -- something that we call 'financial toxicity,'" senior author Dr. Amy Abernethy, an associate professor in Duke's medical oncology division, said in a Duke news release.
"We used to think about chemotherapy toxicity in terms of bad side effects like vomiting, nerve pain, confusion and risk of fatal infection. Now we are starting to think in terms of how treatment choices impact real aspects of daily living such as the ability to buy groceries or not," she added.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology has more about the
cost of cancer care.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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