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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC:”Financial Toxicity” a Harmful Side Effect of Advanced and Metastatic Cancer

Financial toxicity — the state when financial burden is a source of harm to individual patients — is burdensome for advanced- and metastatic-cancer patients in ways that may differ from earlier-stage patients, according to new research from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Dr. Jason Rotter, recent graduate of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Gillings School, is lead author of, “Financial Toxicity in Advanced and Metastatic Cancer: Overburdened and Underprepared,” published in the April 2019 issue of the Journal of Oncology Practice. Dr. Stephanie Wheeler, associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, is a co-author.

Financial toxicity, or high financial burden from cancer care, has been linked to lower quality of life, higher emotional distress, delays or discontinuations of treatment, and increased mortality. The review findings suggest that people living with advanced cancer are uniquely vulnerable to financial toxicity and hardship as a result of their diagnosis, including an inability to pay for care, going into debt, lost wages, filing for bankruptcy, or making other major changes to household spending.

“Medical costs exceed patient ability to pay in many settings, but cancer is among the most acute and visible,” said Rotter. “Though we’ve seen incredible advancement in the treatment and management of various tumor types, not all patients have been able to experience these gains. Very little has been written about how metastatic patients cope with financial strain, both because they are a smaller subgroup of all cancer survivors, and because patients and caregivers often rightly focus more on treatment and disease management.”

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