Student loans aren’t the only reason young adults end up in debt. One of the largest-ever studies of work-related risks in young adult cancer survivors finds that of 872 survivors, 14.4 percent borrowed more than $10,000 and 1.5 percent said they or their family had filed for bankruptcy as a direct result of illness or treatment. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said that cancer or treatment interfered with physical demands of their job, and 54 percent said that cancer or treatment interfered with their ability to perform mental tasks related to their job.
The study also showed that not all cancers and not all treatments have the same effects on young survivors’ financial outcomes. For example, those exposed to chemotherapy were more than three times as likely to borrow over $10,000, and more than three times as likely to report job-related mental impairment than survivors not treated with chemotherapy.
“This project combined the expertise of researchers with diverse training from major cancer centers throughout the U.S. in a team-science approach, which made it possible to gather and explore data from adolescent and young adult cancer survivors in new ways. As a result, this is among the first and largest studies to examine the impact of cancer diagnosis and treatment on work-related outcomes in this important understudied group of survivors,” says Dr. Betsy Risendal, investigator at University of Colorado Cancer Center and associate professor of community and behavioral health.
Collaborating institutions included academic medical centers in Seattle, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York, Boston and Chapel Hill.
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