Lathan, C. S., Cronin, A., Tucker-Seeley, R., Zafar, S. Y., Ayanian, J. Z., Schrag, D.
PURPOSE: To measure the association between patient financial strain and symptom burden and quality of life (QOL) for patients with new diagnoses of lung or colorectal cancer. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients participating in the Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance study were interviewed about their financial reserves, QOL, and symptom burden at 4 months of diagnosis and, for survivors, at 12 months of diagnosis. We assessed the association of patient-reported financial reserves with patient-reported outcomes including the Brief Pain Inventory, symptom burden on the basis of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire C30, and QOL on the basis of the EuroQoL-5 Dimension scale. Multivariable linear regression models were fit for each outcome and cancer type, adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, sex, income, insurance, stage at diagnosis, and comorbidity. RESULTS: Among patients with lung and colorectal cancer, 40% and 33%, respectively, reported limited financial reserves (≤ 2 months). Relative to patients with more than 12 months of financial reserves, those with limited financial reserves reported significantly increased pain (adjusted mean difference, 5.03 [95% CI, 3.29 to 7.22] and 3.45 [95% CI, 1.25 to 5.66], respectively, for lung and colorectal), greater symptom burden (5.25 [95% CI, 3.29 to .22] and 5.31 [95% CI, 3.58 to 7.04]), and poorer QOL (4.70 [95% CI, 2.82 to 6.58] and 5.22 [95% CI, 3.61 to 6.82]). With decreasing financial reserves, a clear dose-response relationship was present across all measures of well-being. These associations were also manifest for survivors reporting outcomes again at 1 year and persisted after adjustment for stage, comorbidity, insurance, and other clinical attributes. CONCLUSION: Patients with cancer and limited financial reserves are more likely to have higher symptom burden and decreased QOL. Assessment of financial reserves may help identify patients who need intensive support.