Financial Hardship–an Unwanted Consequence of Cancer Treatment

McNulty, J., Khera, N.

The substantial economic burden of cancer is increasingly being shifted to patients. Financial burden experienced by patients as a result of medical treatment has an impact on their lifestyle choices, health behaviors, and quality of life. Variation in treatment recommendations based on the patients’ economic status or affordability may be against the basic tenet of social justice and is a growing challenge for policy makers. This review summarizes the multifaceted constructs and current trends associated with financial hardship within the context of cancer care and healthcare economics focusing mainly on hematological malignancies but supplemented by nonhematological cancer and general medical literature. We also highlight the patient and physician perspectives about this issue and identify important areas for future research. We discuss the need for more proactive solutions so that patients can achieve good clinical outcomes, without catastrophic financial consequences for themselves and their families.

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