Survey Reveals Patients With Metastatic Breast Cancer Face Major Financial Stress Due to Treatment Costs

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A new nationwide analysis of more than 1,000 people living with metastatic breast cancer from 41 states reveals significant cancer-related financial burden known as financial toxicity, particularly for uninsured patients. The study will be presented by Greenup et al at the upcoming 2018 ASCO Quality Care Symposium, to be held September 28–29 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Key Points from the Survey:

  • Uninsured breast cancer patients with metastatic cancer were more likely to identify as a racial or ethnic minority, have lower income, and work full time.
  • Compared to insured patients in the survey, uninsured patients more often reported refusing or delaying treatment due to cost
  • Compared to insured patients in the survey, uninsured patients more often reported that they were contacted by a collections agency
  • Insured respondents reported having higher cost-related emotional distress, including being “quite a bit” or “very” stressed about not knowing cancer costs and a greater amount of financial stress on their families due to their cancer.

This study suggests that people with metastatic cancer potentially face a substantial financial burden, and it can help to guide future interventions to screen for, monitor, and alleviate the financial burden associated with cancer care. Health insurance expansion is a necessary but insufficient strategy to address this financial burden; additional interventions are needed, as well as serious consideration of the value of some high-priced, low-yield therapies in the metastatic setting.

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