Race Is a Significant Factor in Financial Toxicity Among Patients with Cancer

A study presented during the 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting observed a significant correlation between race and being harmed financially and being denied insurance due to a cancer diagnosis.

Data on 1,328 patients with a history of cancer were collected from the Health Information National Trends Survey to evaluate how race impacts financial toxicity. The researchers implemented multivariable logistic regression analyses, adjusting for known confounders.

Patients of Black, Hispanic, and other races, compared to white patients, had lower rates of insurance. The rate of receiving no treatment was also significantly lower among white patients (6.1%) compared to patients of Black (15%), Hispanic (17.8%), and other races (9.7%). White patients were more likely than patients of Black, Hispanic, and other races to undergo surgery for their cancer (77% vs. 60%, 55%, and 74.2%, respectively; P<0.001).

Compared to white patients, Black patients were more than five times as likely to be denied insurance (odds ratio [OR], 5.003; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.451-10.213; P<0.001) and had more than double the odds of being financially harmed (OR, 2.448; 95% CI, 1.520-3.941; P<0.001), as did other racial minorities (OR, 2.421; 95% CI, 1.248-4.698; P=0.009).

“These data suggest that race is significantly associated with increased rates of being hurt financially and being denied insurance due to cancer. Awareness of race inequality should be raised so that equal cancer treatment can be provided, irrespective of race, gender or socioeconomic status,” the researchers wrote in their conclusion.