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High Cancer Costs for Cancer Patients Seeking Treatment

High cancer costs for cancer patients seeking treatment is topic that is hardly open for discussion between doctors and patients.  The author of a study into the financial burden of cancer treatment is urging health advocates and providers to engage their patients in conversation about treatment costs and how they are handling them. This is part of the conclusion reached by Ryan David Nipp, MD, an oncology fellow at Dana Farber Cancer Insittute in Boston after finding that the vast majority of patients are using coping mechanisms that may be impacting their care.

His study followed 174 insured patients who had sought financial aid through a national copay assistance program. His interviews with them found that 89% were paying for their treatment by altering their lifestyle in some way, such as taking out a loan. More alarmingly, 39% were reducing their costs by adjusting their treatment regimen – they skipped medication, reduced their own dosages to make medication last longer, or never got prescriptions filled to save money.

“We need a better, more open dialog between patients and providers about the financial burden associated with cancer care costs,” Nipp said. “We need to engage with patients on their choices and develop screening tools to identify patients who are likely to make potentially harmful decisions about their treatment.”

Patients at highest risk for making these potentially-dangerous adjustments were those under the age of 65 and those from lower income households. The patients who were more likely to alter lifestyle by taking out loans or cutting back on lifestyle expenses included those with more education and whose chemotherapy treatment course was shorter.

Resources that are available to cancer patients traditionally focus on the physical and the emotional support that is needed, but Fifth Season Financial understands that financial stress can be devastating too. We offer cancer loan programs to those who are facing an advanced cancer diagnosis. These provide the freedom to make decisions based on what is best for you and your family, without having to worry about their financial ramifications.

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