Cancer-related Financial Burden Linked to Lower Quality of Life

Cancer-related financial burden was linked to lower health-related quality of life.
Cancer-related financial burden was linked to lower health-related quality of life.

Cancer-related financial burden was linked to lower health-related quality of life (HRQoL), increased risk for depressed mood, and a higher frequency of worrying about cancer recurrence among cancer survivors, a study published in the journal Cancer has shown.1

Cancer-related financial burden has been linked to cancer survivors delaying medical care or even foregoing it, skipping follow-up appointments, and discontinuing medications; however, there is limited research on the impact of the financial burden on the health-related quality of life of cancer survivors.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from 19.6 million cancer survivors included in the 2011 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Of those, 28.7% reported financial burden, defined as having borrowed money or declared bankruptcy, having worried about paying large medical bills, being unable to cover the cost of medical care visits, or other financial sacrifices.

Health-related quality of life was assessed using the Physical Component Score and Mental Component Score of the 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey. Depressed mood, psychological distress, and worry related to cancer recurrence were also evaluated.

Results showed that physical health and mental health scores were lower for cancer survivors with financial burden compared with those without it.

Researchers also found that cancer survivors with financial burden had an increased risk of depressed mood (OR, 1.95) and were more likely to worry about cancer recurrence (OR, 3.54) than those without financial burden.

Further, the study demonstrated that survivors who reported 3 or more financial problems had statistically significant and clinically meaningful differences in the average physical and mental health scores vs survivors without financial problems.


1. Kale HP, Carroll NV. Self-reported financial burden of cancer care and its effect on physical and mental health-related quality of life among US cancer survivors [published online ahead of print March 14, 2016]. Cancer. doi:10.1002/cncr.29808.

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