(HealthDay News) — Nonelderly cancer survivors are more likely to report changes in prescription drug use for financial reasons than individuals without a cancer history, according to a study published online in Cancer.

Zhiyuan Zheng, PhD, from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues identified adults who reported ever having been told they had cancer (8931 survivors) and 126,287 individuals without a cancer history from the 2011 to 2014 National Health Interview Survey. The authors assessed changes in prescription drug use, including skipping medication doses, taking less medicine, delaying filling a prescription, asking for lower cost medication, buying prescription drugs from abroad, and using alternative treatments for financial reasons.

The researchers found that among nonelderly individuals, compared to those without a cancer history, recently diagnosed and previously diagnosed cancer survivors were more likely to report any change in prescription drug use for financial reasons (31.6% and 27.9%, respectively, vs 21.4%), with the excess percentage changes for individual measures varying from 3.5% to 9.9% and from 2.6% to 2.7% among previously and recently diagnosed survivors, respectively (P <.01). The rates of changes in prescription drug use for financial reasons were comparable for elderly cancer survivors and those without a cancer history.

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“Nonelderly cancer survivors are particularly vulnerable to changes in prescription drug use for financial reasons, suggesting that targeted efforts are needed,” the authors write.

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  1. Zheng Z, Han X, Guy GP Jr, et al. Do cancer survivors change their prescription drug use for financial reasons? Findings from a nationally representative sample in the United States. Cancer. 20 February 2017. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30560