Breast Cancer: Patients Want Provider Communication to Address Cost Burden

Survey authors identified an unmet need for clinician engagement regarding financial concerns after breast cancer diagnosis.

Advancements in breast cancer treatment have improved survival rates, but financial hardships related to the cost of these lifesaving therapies can weigh heavily on patients.

Based on responses from a survey of 2500 patients treated for early-stage breast cancer, and 845 treating surgeons, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists, the survey authors identified an unmet need for clinician engagement regarding financial concerns after breast cancer diagnosis. The survey respondents were identified through population-based sampling from 2 Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results regions and their physicians.

Among the women diagnosed with breast cancer who were surveyed, 38% were at least somewhat worried about finances related to their treatment, and some experienced extensive hardships. Overall, 14% reported losing more than 10% of their household income and 17% spend more than 10% of their household income on out-of-pocket medical expenses. African-American and Latina women were more likely to report experiences with financial burden, including debt from treatment, losing their home, having utilities turned off for unpaid bills, and cutting back on spending for food.

Additionally, 73% of patients concerned about their finances reported that their physician’s office did not help. While 523 women indicated a desire to talk to providers regarding the impact of their diagnosis on employment or finances, 55.4% reported no relevant discussion.

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