(HealthDay News) — Many cancer survivors have substantial medical financial hardship and make financial sacrifices, according to a study published online in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Xuesong Han, PhD, from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues measured medical financial hardship due to cancer in material, psychological, and behavioral domains for 963 cancer survivors identified from the 2016 Medical Expenditures Panel Survey-Experiences with Cancer. Nonmedical financial sacrifices were also examined and included changes in spending and use of savings.

The researchers found that 53.6, 28.4, and 11.4% of cancer survivors aged 18 to 64 years reported at least 1, 2, or all 3 domains of hardship, respectively. The corresponding percentages were 42.0, 12.7, and 4.0% for cancer survivors aged 65 years and older. Survivors aged 18 to 64 years more often made financial sacrifices due to cancer than those aged 65 years and older (54.2 vs 38.4%). Low income and educational attainment, racial/ethnic minority, comorbidity, lack of private insurance coverage, extended employment change, and recent cancer treatment were significantly associated with hardship intensity in multivariable analyses. Most of these factors were also significantly associated with financial sacrifices.

“Future research is warranted to monitor the effects of ongoing changes in health policy and benefit design, especially in light of ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act, on financial hardship and sacrifices among cancer survivors,” the authors write.


Han X, Zhao J, Zheng Z, et al. Medical Financial Hardship Intensity and Financial Sacrifice Associated with Cancer in the United States. Canc Epidemiol. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-19-0460

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