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Cancer-related financial burden among patients with metastatic breast cancer.

Abstract

32
Background: Recent data suggest that the adverse financial impact of cancer is an underappreciated source of potential harm to patients, also known as “financial toxicity”. Little is known about the financial impact of cancer in patients with widespread, incurable disease, despite the relatively high cost of their care. We conducted a national survey of patients with metastatic breast cancer to address this gap. Methods: We partnered with the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network to field an online survey of metastatic breast cancer patients over a fourteen-day period using Qualtrics. The survey required approximately 20 minutes to complete, and participants were offered a $10 Amazon gift card. Survey items included sociodemographic information, health insurance status, cost-related communication with providers, post-treatment financial burden, financial coping strategies, and emotional well-being. We report financial outcomes stratified by health insurance status, as insurance is an important protective mechanism against health-related financial shocks. Results: 1,513 participants responded from 41 states. More than a third of these women (35%) were uninsured. Uninsured individuals more often reported refusing or delaying treatment due to cost (98% vs. 41% of insured, p < .001) and were also more likely to report skipping non-medical bills (40% vs. 16%, p < .001), stopping work after diagnosis (65% vs. 46%, p < .001), or being contacted by a collections agency (77% vs. 36%, p < .001). Despite this, insured participants reported higher cost-related emotional distress, including being “quite a bit” or “very” stressed about not knowing cancer costs (53% vs. 32%, p < .001) and about financial stress on their family due to their cancer (52% vs. 27%, p < .001). Conclusions: Metastatic breast cancer patients reported an unprecedented level of cancer-related financial harm and significant worry about the financial legacy left behind in the wake of their illness. Health insurance expansion is a necessary, but insufficient strategy to address this financial burden; additional interventions to prevent and mitigate cancer-related financial harm are urgently needed.

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Journal of Clinical Oncology
Pages: 32

History

Published online: September 25, 2018
Published in print: October 20, 2018

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Stephanie B. Wheeler
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC;
Jennifer Spencer
Department of Health Policy and Management, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC;
Michelle L. Manning
University of North Carolina at Chapel HIll, Chapel Hill, NC;
Cleo A. Samuel
UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill, NC;
Katherine Elizabeth Reeder-Hayes
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC;
Jean B. Sellers
UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chapel Hill, NC;
Donald L. Rosenstein
UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chapel Hill, NC;
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC; Department of Health Policy and Management, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC; University of North Carolina at Chapel HIll, Chapel Hill, NC; UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill, NC; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC; UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chapel Hill, NC

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Stephanie B. Wheeler, Jennifer Spencer, Michelle L. Manning, Cleo A. Samuel, Katherine Elizabeth Reeder-Hayes, Jean B. Sellers, Donald L. Rosenstein
Journal of Clinical Oncology 2018 36:30_suppl, 32-32

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