Patients and Physicians Report Conflicting Attitudes Surrounding Discussions of Cancer’s Financial Burden

A study published in Cancer found that many patients report inadequate discussions about the management of the cost of cancer, despite many providers believing that they make these services available.

Researchers assessed patients with early‐stage breast cancer from two Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results regions. The survey generated responses from 370 surgeons, 306 medical oncologists, 169 radiation oncologists, and 2,502 patients.

Half of medical oncologists (50.9%) reported that someone in their practice often or always discusses financial burden with patients, as did 15.6% of surgeons and 43.2% of radiation oncologists. In addition, 40% of medical oncologists believed that they were quite aware or very aware of the out-of-pocket costs of cancer tests and treatments recommended to patients, as did 27.3% of surgeons and 34.3% of radiation oncologists.

Patients reported that financial toxicity is common: 21.5% of white patients, 22.5% of Asian patients, 45.2% of black patients, and 35.8% of Latina patients reported that they reduce food spending to cope with cancer costs.

Many patients are interesting in speaking with providers about the cost of cancer, including 15.2% of whites, 31.1% of blacks, 30.3% of Latinas, and 25.4% of Asians. However, among the 945 women who worried about finances, 679 (72.8%) indicated that physicians and healthcare staff did not provide support. Of the 523 women who sought to discuss the impact of breast cancer on employment or finances with physicians, 283 (55.4%) reported no such discussions.

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Source: Cancer